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UX design may be the most popular design job right now. With that comes questions: How do I stand out as a UX designer? How do I hire for a UX position? What do UX designers even do? This guide clears it up for recruiters, designers – and most importantly, parents everywhere, who still can’t explain their child’s job at dinner parties.

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What is a

What is a

UX designer?

UX designer?

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User experience designer
A UX designer helps people successfully use and enjoy your product or service through intuitive design. Based on the user’s best interest and your business goals, they define the flow, the interactions and the expectations of your product, all of which add up to user experience.

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Do I need a UX designer?

Do I need a UX designer?

Do I need a UX designer?

In our increasingly digital world, it seems like everyone is hiring UX designers and every designer is calling themselves one. So should every company or agency have someone on the team dedicated to UX design? Not necessarily.

Any good interactive designer naturally defines the user experience as part of their work, whether or not they promote themselves as a UX designer. So before hiring a UX designer just because it seems like you should, assess the skills and interests of your current team.

If you don’t have someone on your team who understands how small pieces connect to help people use and love your product, then you might need a UX designer. Especially for teams working on large-scale products, it helps to have someone solely focused on the job.

Types of UX designers & responsibilities

Types of UX designers & responsibilities

UX design is a catch-all term, but within it are specialties that meet different needs of a typical product or project. You might not need a designer to fill each of these roles, but it helps to know them.

UX researcher

UX researcher

A UX researcher is focused on understanding your audience, your product and its potential. Their skillset may include user research, testing, analysis, data and analytics.

UX strategist

UX strategist

The UX strategist helps define the approach and the goals of the product experience, based on the research and project goals. That may include information architecture, wireframing and UX writing.

UX/UI designer

UX/UI designer

While UX is focused on the flow of your product experience, the user interface (UI) is the actual page or screen layout.  Many UX or UI designers today can do both.

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Qualities that make a good UX designer

Qualities that make a good UX designer

UX design is still a fairly new job, so most UX designers have a multi-disciplinary background in design. That’s great. The more your UX designer understands the other pieces of the project, the better the user experience will be. While it depends on the role and the work, a UX designer ideally has a combination of these hard and soft skills.

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Strong communication skills

A UX designer has to explain abstract ideas to their team and to clients. Clear and effective communication is crucial for any design job, but especially this one.

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Research & concepting

Qualitative and quantitative research skills are common for most UX designers. That includes everything that helps you better understand your users, from interviews to usability testing.

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Collaboration skills

UX designers touch all points of a project, from the business  to strategy to content to engineering. They need to work well with others and know how to advocate for their ideas and their users.

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UX writing

UX copy plays a huge part in a successful user experience. While this can be its own specialty, a designer who can also write smart UX copy will make every project better.

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Information architecture

Information architecture – organizing and planning the structure to help users find their way – is an essential part of creating a user experience. 

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Wireframing & prototyping

These are distinct phases of a project that bring it to life. Wireframing shows a simple, abstract view of the experience while prototyping is more of a working model. Many UX designers do both.

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What to look for in a UX portfolio

What to look for in a UX portfolio

Case studies that show strategic thinking

Case studies that show strategic thinking

UX design does not exist in a void - your UX designer should see the bigger picture and understand how their work fits in. Look for case studies that have a story to tell beyond sticky notes and wireframes.

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Case study by Kurt Winter

Clear and straightforward writing

If a designer can’t present themselves well, how will they present their work to a client? How will they communicate with their team? A designer's portfolio reveals how they communicate, which may be the most important skill in this role.

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Case study by Thiago Dalcin

A diverse range of work

What type of products and clients has the designer worked on? Have they worked only on websites, or apps too? Their portfolio should include experience and interests that align as closely as possible with the type of work you do.

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Questions to ask in an UX design interview

Questions to ask in an UX design interview

Q: How do you approach a design problem?

A: Putting the user first is a given. Look for an answer that shows the designer thinks ahead and understands how their work fits into the whole.  

Q: Share a time when you disagreed with a team member. What came from it?

A: An answer that shows the designer sees others’ perspectives, enjoys collaboration and – most importantly – lacks ego, is a good answer.

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Q: How do you define a successful project?

A: To a UX designer, success means not only helping the user successfully accomplish their goal, but also hitting business metrics.  The user comes first, but the client, the team and the hard results should also be on their radar.

Q: What does good UX design mean to you?

A: Today, words like “inclusive” and “universal” and “accessible” and “empathy” will come up. But this is the baseline for any modern professional. The best answer shows the designer’s passion for their work, an understanding of its value and in interest in UX beyond a passing trend.

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Common UX design tools

Common UX design tools

figma

Figma

A popular tool for designing, prototyping and live collaboration.

sketch

Sketch

Used for prototyping and creating web or app layouts.

xd

Adobe Xd

A vector-based user experience design tool for web and mobile apps.

invision

Invision

User research, testing, analysis, data and analytics.

principle

Principle

A tool for designing animated and interactive user interfaces.

framer

Framer

Another common tool for creating interactive designs.

Meet some of the best UX designers we know

Get inspired with our Showcase

Get inspired with our Showcase

Browse our handpicked Showcase to see portfolios from UX designers, UI designers, UX strategists, UX researchers and more. 

Need to create an online UX design portfolio? 
Check out some of our features for UX designers ➝

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