Illustration by Tracy Dai
Our world is changing, and technology is quickly becoming an essential part of our daily routines. From buying products to paying bills, we do much of it online through our various devices.
As more users rely on these online platforms, it’s easy to see why UX is so important. How we think and feel about our digital experiences is largely tied to how these products and platforms work and look—and this creates a high demand for people who are responsible for that design. Graphic designers, UX/UI designers, and motion designers shape a product’s user experience, and companies have now realized the importance of these roles.
If you’re in (or aspire to be in) this field, it’s so important to keep up with the times. In this article, we will discuss the top five benefits of learning UX/UI design and what you need to know.
1. You’ll learn more than just design skills.
What is UX design, exactly? As a discipline, UX design is a combination of methods and tools that allows designers to solve real problems and craft functional, reliable, and enjoyable products.
Although each design process is specific to the project, there are a few essential steps that they share:
- – Research: learning about the user and business needs, and finding a problem to solve
- – Ideation: forming a hypothesis about how to solve the problem
- – Prototyping: creating a prototype or a fully-fledged solution
- – Testing: validating a prototype or a fully-fledged solution with users
As you’re going through this process, you’ll pick up a lot of additional skills, as well. These skills include:
- Empathy. UX design is the art and science of solving a user’s problems. Before creating something, designers need to know what problem they’re solving and for whom. When you understand the people you design for, your designs become much more powerful.
- Communication. Most designers work within a team, so you’ll likely communicate with a lot of different people, including developers, marketing specialists, and other designers. You’ll have to learn how to work together, share ideas, and communicate well.
- UI design. UX design cannot exist without UI design. So, it’s a good idea to invest some time in learning UI design, as well. Start with UI design fundamentals, like using colors and typography, and then you can move on to more complex things like designing UI patterns.
2. You can make an impact on someone’s life.
Design doesn’t exist for engineers or stakeholders; it exists for people who use a product. That’s why the most important thing about user experience design is its user-centric approach.
For example, just a decade ago, taxi services didn’t provide a great user experience. You had to call a taxi company to request a cab, and rides were sometimes limited––and then Uber came along and revolutionized the industry. With Uber, ordering a ride takes less than a minute. All this happened because Uber looked at the problem from the user’s perspective and created an amazing app and user experience to solve it.
This user-centric approach puts people at the heart of the design process. User research and usability testing are integral parts of what UI/UX designers do as part of this process and will help you determine your project requirements. In doing so, you have the opportunity to make a big impact on the way people do everyday things.
3. You will drive business growth.
There’s also a direct correlation between user experience and a product’s success in the marketplace. When your users have a great user experience, they’re more likely to continue using the product and recommend it to others.
The right UX design is important for all types of platforms, apps, and websites. Take eCommerce websites as an example: you want to make it as easy as possible for users to find the item they are looking for and place an order. UX design helps you achieve this goal.
In the following video, behavioral psychologist Susan Weinschenk explains why the upfront investments in user experience design are so valuable to a business in the long run.
4. You will work with new technologies.
UX design is a fast-growing field and noted by LinkedIn as one of the top 10 most in-demand hard skills that companies need. A career in experience design will put you at the frontier of digital innovation, a fascinating field where new concepts and technologies emerge almost every day.
In the next few years, we expect to see an increase in demand for designers applying their expertise to the user experience of augmented reality and voice-based interfaces in particular. Our physical reality will merge with the digital space to create new environments for people, and now is the perfect time to get involved.
5. Your earning potential will increase.
High demand for UX designers has also increased the average paycheck. Today, the U.S. median for a UX designer salary is $85,000 per year, while seasoned designers can earn up to $128,000 per year.
Another perk: you’ll have a lot of freedom to choose a place that you want to work and live, whether that’s sunny California or rainy Massachusetts. If you’re interested in learning more about UX designer opportunities in the U.S., check out our article on the top 8 cities for UX/UI designers.
How to learn UX design
Ready to start learning UX design? I have excellent news for you: finding a job in UX design is easier than you might think, because in most cases you don’t need a formal degree. What matters most is your practical experience in product design and a solid UX portfolio that demonstrates your skills and abilities.
So, where (and how) do you start? Below is a quick step-by-step guide for you.
1. Learn the basics from books
Try to read and learn as much about experience design as you can, as this will help you build a solid foundation for your practical skills. Here are a few excellent books to check out:
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman. This book will help you understand how good design is different from bad design, as well as the basic principles of human-centered design.
- About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper. In this book, you will find effective and practical tools for crafting great web and mobile products. You will also learn Cooper’s Goal-Directed Design method, which involves in-depth user research.
- Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. This book shares essential usability principles that all product designers should learn.
- 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk. What grabs and holds the viewer’s attention on a page or screen? What makes memories stick? You will find answers to these questions in this book.
2. Keep learning with other resources
Next, you need to know how UX designers apply their knowledge and solve real user problems. Here is a short list of resources that offer this kind of information:
- Smashing Magazine is one of the world’s most popular and highly regarded magazines in the areas of web design and web development. The User Experience section features great articles on usability, information architecture, interaction design, and other
UX-related topics for both digital (web, mobile, desktop apps) and physical products.
- 52 Weeks of UX is a very helpful online guide from Joshua Porter that explores practical recommendations about designing for real people.
- Nielsen Norman Group is the trusted authority on all things related to user experience. Their research and articles will help you stay up to date on industry news and more.
- Interaction Design Foundation will help you get started in the field of product design or improve your existing skills. The site contains a lot of helpful articles, tutorials, and training programs.
3. Invest time in building your UX portfolio
Last but not least, you need a solid UX portfolio to get a job in the UX field. If you want to switch to UX design and already have experience designing UIs, it’s likely you already have some excellent projects that you can use for your portfolio. Select two or three projects you are proud of and describe them in detail within your portfolio. Remember to cover each project from the user experience perspective, focusing on the value your design provides to your users and the business.
Learning UX design may take some time, since it’s a complex field with many different specialties underneath it (such as UX writing, user interface design, and information architecture). But the time you invest in training will pay off in full when you see how people use your products. There is nothing like the sense of accomplishment that comes from solving real user problems. And when you see how people interact with your product and the positive emotions they feel, it will inspire you to continue to pursue the journey of UX design.