What Does a UX Designer Actually Do?
There is a job title that is becoming increasingly popular in the job market in the tech industry and beyond, User Experience (UX) Designer. UX is one of the essential fields in product development; there is no doubt about it. However, the exact function of a UX designer might still not be clear to many of us. After all, it’s a relatively new job title.
When someone says, “I’m a UX designer,” what do they actually do in their daily work? Which activities occupy most of their time? What kind of contributions do they offer to the project?
Read this article to learn what a UX designer actually does and how their expertise benefits the product development process.
Introduction: From design to UX design
Before we delve into the role of the UX designer, let’s take a closer look at how the word “design” changed its connotations during the last decade.
In the world of product development, the term “design” has been associated with graphic design for a long time. It was essentially about how the product looked. However, as digital technology expanded and user expectations about digital interactions evolved, companies began to focus more on building the right user experience.
UX is essentially the experience a user has while interacting with your product. And UX design is the process through which the designer determines what that experience will be and how to make sure that it matches the key requirements of users.
This short introduction already indicates the role of the UX designer as a person who is directly involved in the process of making the product more attractive, useful, and usable for its users.
What does a UX designer do?
In their day-to-day work, UX designers carry out user research, design mockups, and prototypes, write UX copy, validate or test their designs with users, and present design solutions to businesses.
The demand for UX designers on the job market is constantly on the rise, and if you look at job descriptions for this role, you’ll see that they vary from company to company. Sometimes a UX designer in one project will have different responsibilities than a UX designer in another project within the same company!
That’s why pinpointing the exact responsibilities of the designer is so challenging. However, all the UX design roles out there have this in common:
The role of a UX designer is becoming the voice of the user and advocate for user needs, all this while balancing the product’s business goals.
What skills does a UX designer need?
Such a broad range of responsibilities requires UX designers to develop a diverse skill set. UX professionals need technical and design skills such as prototyping, wireframing, interpreting data, and user feedback. But they also need soft skills like communication, problem-solving capabilities, adaptability, and creativity.
It’s important that a UX designer is able to collaborate effectively with the entire product development team – as well as with clients and stakeholders. Another key requirement for a successful UX designer is a fair amount of business knowledge. UX designers need to understand the goals of the company and the needs of their target audience – their job is to align the two when developing new design solutions.
Personality traits of successful UX designers
Apart from the hard and soft skills mentioned above, the UX designers need specific personality traits that make them valuable contributors within the team.
Here are the key personality characteristics that make UX designers great at their job:
UX designers need to be creative and come up with more efficient solutions that match user needs. At the same time, they should be able to imagine solutions that may not be so obvious. To do that, they often get inspired by products developed in other industries or even flip the entire business model upside down to discover opportunities for growth. Since their insights are data-driven, UX designers can combine their analytical skills with creativity to develop a strong business case for pivoting.
To truly understand the user’s perspective while interacting with the product, UX designers need to be emphatic. After all, they’re designing experience to be enjoyable for other people. Smart designers know that their needs will be different than the requirements of potential users. This trait helps to design better products but also become stronger collaborators.
Another personality trait and soft skill is the ability to communicate with the team and users. A designer might come up with an amazing idea, but if he or she isn’t able to communicate it properly to the team, the idea will die on the table. That’s why designers use techniques like storytelling to create a compelling narrative that helps them to convey their ideas effectively, improve collaboration, and eventually build products that users will appreciate more.
Successful UX designers needed strong analytical skills to be able to solve problems and detect opportunities across entire systems. Their main job is also creating holistic solutions that provide smooth and streamlined product experiences. Systems thinking is essential to accomplishing that.
The main responsibility of a UX designer is discovering user needs and responding to them accordingly through visual design, copy, or another medium. Naturally, user needs, preferences, and pain points are constantly changing. The context for product development will shift, and UX designers will have to handle rapidly changing conditions. To do that, they need to be tenacious and willing just to throw themselves at any problem, sometimes over and over again, before they come up with a suitable solution.
What are the daily responsibilities of a UX designer?
This is the starting point for every product development process. Today, this step is the foundation of product design. At this stage, UX designers identify user needs, preferences, problems, behaviors, and goals. They also gather information about the industry’s key competitors, sector standards, opportunities, and technical barriers. They do all that to develop the foundation and context for product development.
You might think this phase is all about coming up with the best look for digital products and making it as attractive as possible. However, this is only one part of the story. The process of design today focuses on solving problems and connecting with users to improve the product’s accessibility, usability, and user experience. And this is where you’ll find the main contribution of UX designers.
Extra: Why are prototypes and product testing so important in UX design?
Here’s how UX designers usually go on about creating prototypes:
- Once the team and all the project stakeholders decide on the core features of the product, UX designers take a deep dive into the potential user base and – on the basis of hard data – develop user personas.
- Then they move on to sketching the information architecture and start by developing paper prototypes. These prototypes are rough sketches that allow improving the design on the basis of feedback quickly.
- After paper prototypes, UX designers usually develop wireframes, which often go through many stages of feedback.
- Finally, they create prototypes that are more sophisticated and clickable. Designers then show them to potential users to see how they interact with the product, what they like/dislike about it, and what their initial reactions are.
Why is it all so important? Developing a prototype and testing it among the user base is the best way to validate a business idea and ensure that the product fulfills its mission in the best possible way.
Usability testing is a critical part of product development today because even the most sought after features won’t bring any value to users if the product isn’t usable and accessible.
UX designers complete at least several rounds of testing before the development of the final design. They’re still present after the product launch and responsible for implementing changes and refinements, planning new releases, and gathering new user feedback.
Writing UX copy
Many designers are also asked to write the content on the user interface (UI) that reflects the voice of the product or brand and helps users to navigate the product easily. That’s why UX designers often need solid copywriting skills and the ability to connect with the preferences and needs of users, which they have discovered previously.
Validating and testing with users
This stage of product development benefits a lot from the analytical skills of UX designers. Their main job here is identifying the problems users face during the interactions with the design prototype.
Most of the time, designers carry out user testing in person because it gives them an opportunity to observe user behavior with the product firsthand. Next, they gather user feedback by distributing surveys or asking users directly. This phase allows designers to spot any problems with user reactions and address them instantly.
Presenting design solutions
A UX designer not only creates the design but also sells it to other stakeholders. The person occupying this role should know how to present and interact with people to help them understand how the design fulfills user needs and fixes their problems.
The role of UX design in software development
When applied to software solutions, UX design helps to build digital products that are tailored to the specific needs of users. UX design determines the quality of user interaction with a software product in many aspects. That’s why some UX designers have coding skills and know-how to enhance the quality of the product from the perspective of software development.
The main responsibility of UX design is becoming the users’ advocate and defending their interest during the product development process. Moreover, the need to clearly convey these user needs to both the design and development teams.
Here are the key benefits UX designers bring to the software development process:
- Saving resources – investment in UX design can save your development team hours lost on changing or redesigning the product. By involving UX designers right from the start, you can reduce the time spent by developers on remaking the software by up to 50%, according to a study from Experience Dynamics.
- High ROI and increase in sales – UX design not only reduces costs but also brings in profit through increased sales. One survey revealed that organizations that invested in UX design right from the start managed to boost their sales up to 75%. UX design also offers a great return on investment. According to Forrester, every dollar invested in UX design brings $100 in return. Companies that focus on user experience are able to encourage customers to pay 14.4% more and increase their willingness to recommend the product to other people by 16.6%. This is the true value UX design brings to software development.
- Improved customer satisfaction – by focusing on building the best user experience possible, you can be sure that UX designers will help your product to fulfill its potential and respond to customer needs accordingly. As a result, your brand will earn customer loyalty.
We hope that this article helps you to understand the role UX designers play in product development. While the precise daily responsibilities of UX designers can vary from company to company, there is no doubt that the core of the job advocating for user needs and balancing them with business needs – is essential to the success of any digital product.
At Concise Software, we offer advanced product development and UX design services to help our clients build successful solutions that fulfill their business needs and offer an excellent experience to their users.
Get in touch with us if you’re looking for a team of talented and skilled UX designers.