Spotlights

Various Titles within UX Team

UI (User interface) Designer, Interaction Designer, Visual/UX Designer, Information Architect

Job Description

A UX Designer works on websites, applications, intranets, online communities or software and they encompass one or more of the following elements (depending on the company):

  • Information Architecture: Designs the structure, the “blueprint” of the site (i.e. How the pages group together, navigation) that support the objectives of the system they are designing. What is the flow of users through our site? How does the software help the user catalog their information? How is that presented back to the user?
  • Interaction Design:  Organizes and labels the site to maximize findability (ability of user to find information on site) and usability (user’s ease of reach, use and understanding of site) for the user. There are five dimensions of interaction design: words, visual representations, physical objects/space, time, and behavior.
  • Visual Design:  Designs the “look-and-feel”. Works with the graphics, colors, typography, and images.
  • Front-end Code: Programs the code to produce the visual design.   
  • User Research: Provides an understanding of user behavior (what they need, what they want, what they think, how they interact with other people, and why).  Know how to get un-biased, pure feedback as best as possible.
Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Fun to build something you can see and use!  
  • Impacts daily life
  • Dynamic – ever-changing and exciting
  • Mix of creativity and technology – hybrids
  • Career is in demand and growing
  • People are always thinking of ways to do things better

“It’s fun. The great thing about design is that it is a fun field. You get to work with creative and passionate people. You get to build something that is totally satisfying at the end.” Ann Ku, Former Manager of Interaction Design, Hotwire.com

The Inside Scoop
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe XD
  • Conceptual Skills
  • Decision Mapping
  • Design Principles
  • Digital media Design
  • Figma
  • Graphic Design
  • Ideation
  • Information Architecture
  • Knowledge of Front End Coding
  • Layout Design
  • Marketing
  • Photo Composition
  • Storytelling
  • Typography
  • User Experience
  • User Experience Design
  • User Interface
  • User Research
  • UX Writing
  • Web Content
  • Wireframing and UI Prototyping
  • Wordpress
  • Empathy: Must understand the users’ needs and goals when they go on the site
  • Bring together several moving pieces
  • Ability to prioritize information
  • Team work: You are working with a multi-disciplinary group of people and it takes a team to create a good user experience.
  • Communication and Selling skills: Design is subjective so you need to clearly communicate and “sell” why your design decisions are the way to go.
  • Data analysis: Need to analyze and apply user feedback and research
  • Software: (visual) Photoshop, Illustrator; (front-end code) HTML, CSS, JavaScript, HTML5; (wireframing/ prototyping) Visio, Omnigraffle or Axure.  
Main Activities
  • Doing research (what other sites are doing, to get ideas), creating sketches (drafts, wireframes) to improve site, share with team (programmers who build)
  • User research: get people’s feedback.
  • Mixture of individual work and team work.
  • Project base work, deadlines
  • Have product working, prioritize what we need to work and then when do we want to get done.
  • Coordinate with lots of people, work on deadline.
  • Communicate and convince people (look at data), in the past we tried this layout and more people clicked on it.
  • Analyze data and show people that this layout worked and this one didn’t…
Different Types of Organizations
  • In-house startup: Ideal if you can wear many hats, longer hours.
  • In-house established company: Usually specialize in one of the elements, Usually regular hours.
  • Agency: Work for different companies, usually specialize in one of the elements.
Current Trends
  • Increasing UX design work in mobile, tablet, and social media.
  • Demand for user research (how to build user feedback into build, collect user data).
What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

“I was open to new ideas, was curious about how things worked and how to improve things.”

“I wanted to build something that was functional.”

Education and Training Needed
  • It may be possible to land a job in this field without a degree. However, UX Designers need a strong mix of technical skills along with an understanding of users. Having a degree shows employers that you have the academic credentials
  • It’s very helpful to have a bachelor’s degree in a major such as Computer Science, Graphic Design, or Game Design, with a minor in a subject like Psychology or Sociology. Human-Computer Interaction is another option
  • It’s important to remember the differences between User Experience and User Interface or Graphic Design, and to focus on studying the most applicable software and programming skills
  • Information Architecture, Wireframing, Prototyping, and Visual Communication are important applied skills to master
Top Educational Institutions

This is a new discipline that is still being defined in the academic setting.

Human Computer Interaction programs

  • Carnegie Mellow University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Washington, Seattle
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Cornell University
  • Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • University of Art and Design Helsinki
  • Design your own major at Stanford University (includes classes in Product Design, Computer Science, Art, Psychology and Communication)
Things to do in High School and College
  • Get practical hands-on experience with programming languages and applicable software
  • Be proactive about self-study; there are tons of books, websites, and YouTube tutorials to help you understand the basics of UX Design
  • Check out online short courses where you can learn advanced subject matter
  • Sign up for school clubs where you can share information and enthusiasm with peers
  • Volunteer to work on sites for friends, family, or local organizations once you have sufficient experience and knowledge
  • Study websites and take detailed notes about features that interest you, so you can learn how they did it
  • Experiment with techniques and tools as you learn, and — again — take plenty of notes!
  • It’s never too soon to work on your UX Designer portfolio and case studies, but keep them updated and showcase only your best work
  • Connect with working UX Designers; ask questions about how they got hired and what they do to keep their skills fresh and sharp
  • Create a profile on freelance sites like Upwork to get experience working with paying clients. Also consider freelancing for an agency, as long as they are supportive and willing to pay a fair wage
  • Consider finishing a UX Design Bootcamp
  • Hop on LinkedIn to start growing your professional network and making it easier for recruiters to find you
Typical Roadmap
UX Designer Typical Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Try to get as much practical work experience as possible, through internships, freelancing, agency work, or related jobs
  • Having a degree or UX bootcamp certification will help you be competitive
  • Let your network know you’re job-seeking, ask for informational interviews to learn more about the field, and broadcast your availability via LinkedIn’s Open for Business feature
  • Keep your social media “inspection ready” because hiring managers and recruiters may be peeking at what you’re posting
  • Use your school’s career resource center to prep your resume, do mock interviews, and find out about job fairs
  • Talk to past professors, supervisors, and colleagues about their willingness to serve as references
  • Create accounts on job portals such as Indeed.com, IxDA Jobs, UX Jobs Board, Dribbble, Krop, Authentic Jobs, Coroflot, Remotive, AngelList, Glassdoor, and others
  • Get connected with UX Designer communities to learn tips, stay inspired, and get your work seen
  • Have your UX Designer portfolio and case studies ready to go so employers can see your talent on full display!
  • Check out UXfolio’s very helpful 42 Common UX Designer Interview Questions
  • In the interview: Must be able to explain the thought process behind your design:  what was the goal of project, why did you choose this layout instead of another?, what other options did you consider? Need to clearly communicate your reasoning. 
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Need to be on the forefront of changing technologies: Design for Mobile, tablet, understanding social media.
  • Be passionate about design.
  • Go to conferences/talks.
  • Follow the trends in the industry.
  • See other sites that you like, sites that people are using a lot.
  • Get out there and talk to people.
  • Be and stay intellectually curious and educate yourself: This is a changing field so you must stay up to date with what’s going on in the industry and new trends and technologies.
  • Become a leader in the field: blog about your expertise, teach classes.
Recommended Tools/Resources

Articles and Websites

Associations

  • The Information Architecture Institute http://www.iainstitute.org/en/
  • Interaction Design Association http://www.ixda.org/

Books

  • Design Web Interface recommendations http://designingwebinterfaces.com/essential-ui-design-books
  • UX by Design recommendations http://www.uxbydesign.org/2009/06/24/20-user-experience-books-you-should-own/\
  • Laws of UX: Using Psychology to Design Better Products & Services, by Jon Yablonski
    UX/UI Design 2021-2022 Tutorial for Beginners: The Complete Step by Step Guide to UX/UI Design and Best Practices for designers with no Experience, by Tom Mulligan
    UX For Dummies, by Donald Chestnut and Kevin P. Nichols

Conferences

Programs

The Information Architecture Institute Mentoring Program http://www.iainstitute.org/en/members/mentoring/mentoring_program.php

Tools

Trade Magazines/Websites

Plan B

User Researcher, User Strategist

Infographic

Click here to download the infographic

UX Designer Gladeographix

Newsfeed

Jobs by
Contributors

Programs at Foothill

Online Courses and Tools