The UX Designer career roadmap

User experience designers – otherwise known as UX Designers – are an essential part of technical product teams, closely involved in anything from app creation to website builds. A creative, engaging, and fulfilling career choice, UX Design jobs are some of the most sought after across the world. The UX Designer’s role is to make a product or service usable, enjoyable, and accessible. And, an added benefit for those seeking a move to a UX career is that you don’t need a technical background, which makes the UX Designer role a perfect career choice for those who want to join the tech industry without the requirements of coding, development, or engineering training.

Described by Forbes as one of the best career prospects for achieving a perfect work-life balance, being a UX Designer offers many additional benefits. It gives technologists a chance to take part in cross-functional projects, providing the opportunity to work with other professionals across different departments on exciting creative designs.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple believes that organizations have spent too long ignoring the benefits of UX design. ‘Most business models have focused on self-interest instead of user experience.’ But in recent years, the tide has changed. As the demand for organizations looking to increase their digital presence rises, so does the need for UX professionals. Organizations are investing millions in UX. And Hired.com’s recent ‘Mind the Gap’ report into the technology landscape in the UK showed a 289% rise in requests for UX interviews.

Steve Jobs, the late CEO and co-founder of Apple, also recognized the importance of UX design, believing that designers are not only responsible for creating aesthetically pleasing projects, but for the success of a project from the ground up. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Getting started in UX design
It isn’t essential to have a degree in the field – or at all – to find work as a UX Designer. User experience design blends technology, psychology, and graphic design, so a background and interest in a similar topic – including digital media or computer science – would definitely open doors if you’re trying to break into the industry. As technology evolves, there are more courses and training opportunities available in UX design specifically. Check out Andela’s Learning Community to find educational opportunities to suit your own career! As a member of the ALC you can find training courses, meet like-minded community members, and discover mentoring opportunities.

Many UX designers are self-taught. YouTube and other free online courses provide great training options for those who are interested in starting a career in UX. Books, such as The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, or A Project Guide to UX Design: For User Experience Designers in the Field or in the Making by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler are essential reading on UX design. Podcasts, and online blogs from established UX designers can also boost your knowledge and understanding of the industry, offering guidance on forging your own career path.

Tools of the trade

UX Designers use a wide variety of tools in their day to day work lives. Predominantly design-led software and platforms, tools such as Sketch, Adobe Creative Cloud – Cloud, XD, Photoshop and Illustrator – enable UX Designers to produce high-quality work. Additional creative applications such as Figma, which incorporates UI design, UX design, graphic design, and wireframing, and InVision, which designs mockups and create interactive prototypes, are easy to learn through many free (and readily available) online courses. In addition to these essential tools of the trade, it’s important for A UX Designer to stay one step ahead, and continue to research emerging software and tools that can help them to up skill. The design industry doesn’t stand still. Watching online tutorials and reading design publications can ensure you aren’t left behind! There are some tools you may not have knowledge of yet, that may prove the perfect choice for a future project, so you need to ensure you’re aware of current trends, and what organizations are looking for.

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills, such as good communication and collaboration, are essential when building a career in UX design. From excellent time management, to being able to avoid burnout, the more you can practice and hone your interpersonal skills, the better placed you’ll be to forge the career of your dreams. UX Design requires working across several different teams, and if you’re part of a remote team, it means you need to navigate time zones and colleagues’ work-from-home structures, as well as new forms of collaboration. Keep these essential interpersonal skills in mind when starting out in UX:

Time management

Collaboration skills

Good eye for details

Visual design skills

Avoiding burnout

High-level writing skills

Presentation/communication skills

Ability to work remotely

Empathy

Curiosity

Continous learning

Critical thinking

Mentorship

If you’re a novice UX Designer, a mentor is your ticket to accelerating your career. From advice and guidance, ensuring you avoid early career mistakes, to constructive feedback on projects, a mentor is incredibly beneficial to those just starting out. It could be someone you work with, or even a UX Designer you follow and admire on social media. An experienced professional with extensive knowledge of UX can make all the difference when you’re growing your career. 

Join a community

Open source projects and collaborations are a great way to hone your craft. Finding your place in a community, with like-minded technologists who share your interests and career goals, can boost your confidence and your knowledge. LinkedIn and Reddit feature many design forums and blogs. At Andela, we have our own Talent Network Community, where network members can meet, chat and collaborate on projects!

A day in the life of a UX Designer

As a UX Designer, you’ll work with many different tools, software and applications to create stunning, innovative designs for your clients. From team collaboration to creating mockups, and presenting to clients to designing visual concepts, a UX Designer’s role is varied, busy and most of all, essential! Here are some examples of daily tasks a UX Designer undertakes:

  • Planning and implementing new designs
  • Enhancing existing interface designs
  • Creating prototypes for new layouts
  • Coordinating with their team on issues such as page design, page routing and navigation
  • Preparing customer analyses and conducting competitive analysis of websites or applications
  • Translating concepts into wireframes, mockups and prototypes
  • Assisting in the creation of a content strategy
  • Testing new designs and ideas before implementing
  • Collaborating with front-end designers and UX researchers
  • Delivering user-centered and intuitive solutions
  • Creating design mockups for their design team
  • Communicating with clients
  • Making strategic decisions

Career progression

There are two prominent career paths in UX Design – technical and managerial. On the technical side, you could forge a career in front-end development, working with programming languages from Javascript to Ruby on Rails, and building applications from the ground up. If you’re more leadership-minded, then a managerial career could be ideal. UX Designers with strong leadership and communication skills often progress to becoming UX Managers or UX Directors. Eventually, a leadership career path could even lead to a role as the VP of User Experience!

There are a wide variety of opportunities for UX Designers. Here are some examples of potential roles:

UX Consultant

A UX Consultant improves an organization’s design and business strategy, offering and implementing solutions based on user experience principles. This could involve training clients in UX best practices, analyzing and researching customers, or creating website and app prototypes. The goal of any UX Consultant is to provide customers with a greatly improved user experience for the customer while enabling clients to take a UX-minded approach to their business strategy. Experience in project management, from the ground up, is beneficial to this role. Working on different types of projects and designs would be helpful, as any exposure to new challenges can help you hone your craft.

UX Specialist

From UX Engineers to UX Researchers, finding your niche is imperative. If your strength lies in engineering – building websites and apps – UX Engineering could be ideal. If you prefer analyzing user behaviors, a career in UX Research could be right up your street! There are plenty of opportunities to try new things while you’re working on in-house projects. Always ask your manager if there are any other ways you can help move a project along, or if you can shadow other team members to learn different aspects of their roles. Any additional knowledge gained will prove beneficial in the long run.

Senior UX Designer

For many UX Designers, making the leap to a senior level is the ultimate career goal. Senior UX Designers are often able to be more hands-on when it comes to creative projects. They usually supervise teams or lead departments, which requires excellent leadership and communication skills, as well as writing and presentation skills. It usually takes around 5 to 8 years of experience in UX Design to become a Senior UX Designer.

Additional aspects of the Senior UX Designer role include*:

  • Conducting user research to understand how customers currently use the product or service and identify potential problems that users may encounter
  • Creating wireframes and prototypes to test the design before implementing the development process
  • Working closely with other developers and team members to implement the designs created by the team
  • Conducting usability tests to identify any problems with the design and make recommendations for improvement
  • Designing the visual elements of a website or application’s interface, including colors, fonts, and images
  • Participating in meetings with managers to discuss project scope, deadlines, and other details relevant to the work
  • Creating new designs based on client feedback or market trends
  • Using data from user testing to improve designs and ensure they meet users’ needs
  • Presenting findings and design suggestions to clients

*Information from climbtheladder.com

We hope this UX Designer career roadmap has given you some insight into the opportunities available in UX Design. To find out more about working as a UX professional within a team, check out this latest blog from Andela’s own Carlos Tay, a UX Researcher.

Interested in growing your career as a UX Designer? Then join the Andela Talent Network!

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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