what is a UX designer?

As a UX designer, you make a product or service usable and accessible. Whether users are interacting with a digital product, like browsing a website and navigating a mobile app or using a service, user experience is vital. A user experience designer ensures that all aspects of interacting with company products are satisfying and effective.

User experience designers specialize in building intuitive and simple interaction experiences by providing fun and aesthetically pleasing formats. To solve user problems and provide a positive experience, you research the needs of end users. For instance, you seek to understand users' motivations, attitudes, desires and expectations. Learning the pain points of the company's customers helps you create a seamless customer experience.

Would working as a UX designer suit your passion for design and talent for understanding the needs of product users? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a UX designer role.

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average UX designer salary

Would you like to know what a UX designer earns? Where the highest salaries are paid to UX designers? Then check out this salary page and find out all about the salary of a UX designer in the USA.

factors affecting UX designer salary

The compensation package of a UX designer depends on experience and educational qualifications. When you are an entry-level or junior UX designer, your salary is (comparatively) lower due to having lesser responsibilities associated with your role. When you have some experience in the industry, you take on more complex roles, which warrant a higher salary. Senior UX designers are experts in the field and negotiate a higher salary for their in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.

The location also influences your earnings based on the existing demand in the market and the cost of living. Large cities like Los Angeles have higher compensation packages to reflect the demand for UX designers in the area. The cost of living also pushes the amount higher.

Finally, the company you work for significantly matters when it comes to your salary and benefits package. Working for tech industry giants will typically pay more than working for smaller start-up companies.

Womale sitting at her desk, looking away from computer screens displaying marketing content.
Womale sitting at her desk, looking away from computer screens displaying marketing content.

types of UX designers

User experience design is a multidisciplinary role with multiple niche specializations. Some of the areas UX designers specialize in include:

  • visual design: As a visual UX designer, you rely on visual elements and graphics to solve user experience problems. For instance, you develop wireframes and prototypes for testing products or websites to ensure a better user experience. You also add design elements that maximize a site's usability while adhering to the brand guidelines. If you’re interested in visual design, you may be interested in learning more about UI design, a job with a lot of overlap with UX design, though with different end purposes.
  • UX research: With user experience research, you use various research methods like conducting focus groups, surveys and usability testing to understand the user experience on a digital product. After studying human behaviors, you assist the design team in making the necessary adjustments to improve the UX design.
  • UX writing: When you specialize in UX writing, you create all the content that users interact with when they use an app, engage in a service or visit a website. You understand the audience and use words to encourage users to interact with the company's products.

working as a UX designer

As a UX designer, you create products based on a user-centric problem-solving approach. That means a single concept requires regular refinement and testing to ensure it achieves the desired goals. Here's a look into the duties and work environments of UX designers:


UX designer skills and education

While there is no one single path to becoming a UX designer, most UX designers share a college education and have certain skill sets. A typical UX designer will have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree specifically in UX/UI design or a degree in an adjacent field of study such as computer science or graphic design. Many UX designers gain their first experience in the field through internships or entry-level jobs.

Increasingly, however, it is becoming easier for aspiring UX designers to gain entry into the field without a degree. Some accredited universities offer “bootcamps” or certification courses in UX design and can even assist you in finding an entry-level job. It is important for the aspiring UX designers who choose this route to build a strong portfolio of work and sharpen their skills.

skills and competencies

Here are some of the most important skills you will need to advance in the field of UX design:

  • empathy: It is necessary as a UX designer to put yourself in other people's shoes. Empathy helps you understand users' problems and challenges when interacting with a website and ideal solutions from a user's point of view. Empathy lets you obtain the best information from user research sessions with focus groups.
  • user research: User research is a critical aspect of UX design. You will need to conduct user research to gain insights into user needs, behaviors and preferences.
  • communication skills: Your job in UX design involves interviewing users during research and communicating feedback to the management team. Communication skills help you present your findings and solutions eloquently to clients and the management.
  • collaboration skills: Team work is an important aspect of UX design. You require collaboration skills to work in harmony with your team. You can leverage others' expertise when exploring solutions and take feedback when you have collaboration skills.
  • critical thinking: For UX designers, critical thinking skills are important for innovating new solutions and challenging your assumptions. User experience roles also require creative and critical thinking that keeps you on top of your game.
  • continuous learning: As a UX designer, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest design trends, technologies and user needs.
woman and man in front of computer
woman and man in front of computer

FAQs about working as a UX designer

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about being a UX designer.

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