5 Unexpected UX Design Skills to Help You Level Up

Suzanne Scacca By Suzanne Scacca  |  Oct. 25, 2019

Trying to land a job in UX design? There’s expected to be huge growth in this space in the coming years (with some hiring managers saying they want to double their UX design workforce), so the market is primed for more designers to enter the space.

Whenever a hiring boom like this happens, you have to consider how it could work against you. Sure, there are more job openings. However, that means that more UX designers (and designer wannabes) are going to come out of the woodwork, trying to snag up the highly coveted gigs.

So, let’s assume that you’re all starting from the same place: with the baseline skills UX designers are expected to have like empathy, user testing, and wireframing. How are you going to differentiate yourself from the lookalike UX designers who all promise to do the same thing?

You set yourself apart with additional and unexpected skills.

 

1. Information-Gatherer

There’s a lot of emphasis put on UX designers to be good communicators. But communication is a broad term that could refer to how designers collaborate with their teams, discuss results with clients, or conduct user testing.

Ask the right questions the first time

With user input playing such a critical role in the decision-making process, it’s a good idea for UXDs to drill down even further into their skillset. Being able to conduct successful user or client interviews as well as formulating questionnaires and surveys is just as important.

Ask the right questions the first time and you’ll find it becomes easier to move all the pieces into place as you build or refine an experience.

 

2. Feedback Wrangler

There’s no such thing as a one-man team in UX design. You have to collaborate with UI designers, UX writers, coders, marketers, clients, and users. Which means you need to be an adept feedback wrangler if you want to succeed in this role. That goes both for handing out feedback as well as receiving it.

This also means becoming efficient in feedback wrangling because not only will you give and receive it in person, it’ll be coming through a variety of channels, too. So, being able to organize and give proper priority to feedback and communication within your team and with others will be incredibly important.

 

3. Emerging Technologist

It’s one thing to be a skilled UXD in this day and age. It’s another thing to be able to make a lifelong career out of it, which means always having your eye on what’s coming down the road.

45% of managers said they’ll be hiring UX designers with VR skills

As you know, technologies and trends are always changing. If you get stuck in one place, it’s going to be mighty hard to find work as a designer when your peers have made the pivot.

So, one thing you should pay close attention to in the coming years is emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, AR, and VR. In that Adobe report cited earlier, 45% of managers said they’ll be hiring UX designers with VR skills and 37% will hire AR-skilled designers over the next few years.

 

4. Ethical Designer

One of the problems you might run into with designing apps is the matter of ethics. Specifically, the kinds of apps that see users engage with them over long stretches (like games) or repeatedly throughout the day (like social media).

Yes, you want to design the perfect experience that inspires users to regularly engage with your app. But do you want it to be such an addictive experience that it becomes detrimental to their health?

As tech addiction and sleep deprivation caused by improper use of technology become greater issues in our society, UX app designers may need to adopt more ethical approaches to their work.

 

5. Cross-Disciplinarian

One of the skills UX designers are most commonly associated with is empathy. But that usually means having such a deep understanding of what your users want so that you may design the right experience for them. What about empathy for the people you work with though?

If you think about it, the decisions you make affect your teammates. You design an experience that the UI designer then has to visualize. Or that your UX writer has to put words to. Or that your coder has to translate into something usable for the web. Is it fair to design an experience without understanding the actual work it takes to make it a reality?

If you haven’t dabbled in CSS or JavaScript, if you haven’t done any writing recently, if you haven’t been involved in the marketing of websites you build, it might be a good idea to get your hands dirty now. Not only will it give you a better understanding of how everything fits together, it will allow you to design experiences that don’t constantly test the limits of what your team can do.

 

Use Your Unexpected UX Design Skills to Level Up

It is, of course, important to master the baseline set of skills as a UX designer. Without that solid foundation, additional skills above won’t be able to give you much assistance in your race to the top. That said, if you are already a skilled UX designer and you’re ready to level up, these unexpected UX design skills could give you what you need to edge out the competition.

 

Featured image via Unsplash.