Seven must have skills for UX/UI designers

In the past, user interface design (UI) and user experience design (UX) were considered “nice to have” skills by most organizations. Great additions, but not essential or in demand. While the design industry prized UX and UI technologists, many global organizations dismissed the design medium as frivolous, offering little to no buy-in to invest in their development.

But during recent years – particularly since the global pandemic inspired many organizations to adopt a remote-first business model – UX and UI designers have become “must have” team members. Finally, it’s your time to shine UX and UI specialists! A recent Adobe study found that 87% of managers said hiring more UX Designers was their organization’s top priority, while 73% planned to hire more UX Designers over the next five years. And with over 1.83 billion websites and 4 million mobile apps available, UI designers have their work cut out to make online content user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

As August is our dedicated UX month, we created an exclusive UX career roadmap featuring tips and recommendations for different UX related career paths and how to set goals to level up your career. But before you can grow your career, you need the right skills – and in the ever-evolving UX/UI industry, you need to stay one step ahead to ensure you’re up to date with the latest trends and technology. 

What are the current “must haves” for UX and UX Designers? Discover the seven essential skills you’ll need to build the career of your dreams!

  1. Agile/ Agile UX

Agile methodology is an iterative approach to project management and software development, enabling teams to deliver value to their customers more quickly and with fewer blockers. Agile teams deliver work in small, incremental stages, ensuring that requirements, plans, and results are evaluated continuously so teams have a natural mechanism for responding to change quickly.  Carlos Tay, one of our Andela Community members, discussed the importance of UX within Agile teams in his recent blog

The previous downside of Agile was that it was more focused on developers than on designers. However, Agile UX has since grown in prominence. Agile UX embraces the key principles of Agile software development, reframed in the context of design activities. Designers work in continuous collaboration with team members, integrating customer feedback and change with each iteration on the project. It’s proving to be one of the most popular approaches to project management – and something all UX and UI designers should add to their skill set. 

  1. Wireframing and Prototyping

The visualization of a project during the development process is often the most time consuming – and the most essential – part of a UX/UI designers work. Aesthetics are important and the more you can practice and create models to work from, the easier it is to perfect your work. UX and UI designers work closely with wireframes and prototypes as they begin designing. Wireframes depict what interface elements will be a part of the key website/application pages and are used to prioritize page elements based on user requirements. The UI/UX designer will decide the features to display, how to present them, and where to position them. As a result, UI/UX designers will need to get to grips with various forms of UI elements, from CTA’s and images, to menus. Once wireframes have been completed and approved, its time to create prototypes, or mockups – the model of a product required for testing. UX and UI designers should be skilled with computer prototyping tools, as well as practicing creating prototypes by hand, on paper. And ultimately, as well as possessing technical skills for wireframing and creating prototypes, its also essential for UX and UI designers to be able to work quickly – so practice makes perfect!

  1. Information Architecture

Information architecture – otherwise know as IA –  is the science of organizing and structuring content of websites, web and mobile applications, and social media software. Good IA enables users to find important information they’re seeking, quickly and easily – so UX/UI designers are required to make page navigation straightforward and simple to use, as well as aesthetically pleasing. To develop your IA knowledge, consider researching on basic and recurring website architecture patterns. Find some websites and apps that you particularly admire, and practice creating sitemaps. The more you enjoy navigating a sitemap you’ve created, the likelier it is that other users will benefit from your work. 

  1. Upskill with the latest design software

As I said earlier, the design industry is constantly evolving. And with that evolution comes the development of new, innovative design tools and applications. UX and UI designers have to continuously upskill to ensure they’re ready to tackle any project sent their way. Figma, Sketch, and  Adobe Creative Cloud are three of the most important and influential programs and are essential tools for UX and UI designers. There are many free trials available for these programs to help you upskill, as well as free online tutorials! Alongside honing your knowledge of online tools, UX and UI designers should consider brushing up on some additional design practice skills, including typography, color theory, layout, icons, and general design theory – I’ve included hyperlinks to some fantastic free tutorials to get you started. 

  1. Application development and programming languages

As  UX or UI Designer, you’re unlikely to be tasked with writing code. But, having experience and knowledge with the programming languages connected to application development can be highly beneficial, offering you more realistic expectations of what your designs can be capable of, as well as enabling you to communicate and collaborate effectively with your development team. The more knowledge you acquire, particularly in a small or start-up organization, can help you stand out from the crowd and offer you career growth opportunities! JavaScript, Ruby, Python, and HTML can be useful programming languages to learn, especially in today’s market.

  1. Research and testing

To create a product that solves a user problem, meets a user’s need, or satisfies a user in general, you must first understand who that user is. This is where user research comes in. Conducting deep user research for the product or feature you’re building can help you improve it. You’ll undertake user testing as you create prototypes to confirm your design choices. Understanding how to iterate through these two user-centric phases will help you become a more effective designer. Research is something you only get better at through practice, so anytime you have the chance to collaborate on a project or contribute ideas, whether in an academic or professional setting, make strong research and an abundance of information the foundation of your ideas.

  1. Communication, collaboration and other soft skills

Communication is key to good collaboration, and good collaboration is essential to the product design process. Possessing the necessary soft skills not only enables you to work well with your development team, but they can help you take the next step in your career. Good time management, the ability to avoid burnout, and practicing your communication skills – from presenting to writing – are all ways you can help level up your career. Organizations are always looking for strong candidates with excellent soft skills, so keeping those skills sharpened is your ticket to success. For tips on how to strengthen your soft skills, check out our series of blogs:

Discover how to master time management

Read these tips to avoid burnout

Learn the importance of collaboration 


Are you a UX or UI specialist looking for a new role? At Andela, a world-leading hiring marketplace, we thrive on connecting brilliance with opportunity. Learn more about how we can help you grow your career and connect you with your dream role.

Want to be part of the Andela Community? Then join the Andela Talent Network!

With more than 175,000 technologists in our community, in over 90 countries, we’re committed to creating diverse remote engineering teams with the world’s top talent. And our network members enjoy being part of a talented community, through activities, benefits, collaboration, and virtual and in-person meetups.

All you need to do to join the Andela Talent Network is to follow our simple sign-up process. 

Submit your details via our online application then…

Complete an English fluency test – 15 minutes.

Complete a technical assessment on your chosen skill (Python, Golang, etc.) – 1 hour.

Meet with one of our Senior Developers for a technical interview – 1 hour.


Visit the Andela Talent Network sign-up page to find out more.

If you found this blog useful, check out our other blog posts for more essential insights!

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