UX Designer: Explained

BY PAULO DZIOBCZENSKI - NOV 2020
In this article, I present a data-driven analysis of what it means to be a UX Designer. The analysis is based on job ads from companies such as Amazon, Apple, Eletronic Arts, Ikea and Microsoft.

When a company is hiring a designer, what do they look for? What do they expect a designer will do? What skills a designer should have?

Those are exactly the questions I will answer now, based on a data-driven analysis of job advertisements. If you want to know more about the method and what I mean by data-driven analysis, I wrote a separate article explaining it.

Design job titles: Explained
A data-driven approach to understand four design job titles: Product, UX, UI and Visual Designer. by Paulo Dziobczenski. Founder of designcareer.co

In short: Much has been said about what it means to be a Product/UX/UI/Visual designer. Many designers have written wonderful articles before. I am taking a different approach: I look at what companies say in their job advertisements.

Now, back to UX design.

What UX Designers do?

UX Designers are generalists.

They work throughout the whole design process: They do research at the beginning to find out more about the customers’ needs, get involved in ideation, build prototypes, test it with users and oversee the implementation.

What a UX Designers does not do, according to Solarwinds: visual design and other 'simple' work

Moving to more specifics, I started counting how many times each request showed up in the data set. Here are the top 5 requests:

Top 5 Outcomes for UX Designers: UX, User Research, UI, Prototyping, Design system

User Experience (UX)

UX Designers work with… UX! :)

UX Designers help shape User Experience strategies and deliveries. It is common to see requests for UX Designers to deliver journey maps, user flows and other outcomes that I'll cover soon.

EA and IKEA look for UX work from UX designers

User Research

UX Designers are deeply involved in understanding the users in early phases of the project. In doing that, UX Designers conduct and analyse User Research.

Anybotics and Emerald works look for User Research work from UX designers

User Interface (UI)

UX Designers also deliver interfaces and other digital outcomes.

Philips and ERT look for UI work from UX designers

Prototyping

UX Designers develop prototypes to test and validate their ideas.

Code D' Azur and Enghouse look for Prototyping work from UX designers

Design System

UX Designers build design systems. A design system, by definition, is a ‘a collection of reusable components, guided by clear standards, that can be assembled together to build any number of applications’

Fitbit and LTN look for Design System work from UX designers

What a Product Designer needs to know?

UX Designers need to have a varied range of skills to do their jobs. For example, UX Designers need to have ‘Visual design’ skills to deliver interfaces.

Think about these skills as some necessary layers (or mindsets) for designers to do their work. As you can see on the Top 5 below, not only design skills:

Top 5 Skills for UX Designers: Communication, Business, Data-driven design, User-centered design and Visual design

Communication

UX Designers work in diverse teams (engineers, users, etc.). For that, communication skills (verbal, written) are key for the job.

Amazon and Apple look for Communication skills from UX designers

Business

UX Designers need to speak business and understand how their work affect their clients’ businesses.

DPDK and IKEA look for Business skills from UX designers

Data-driven

UX Designers need to understand how to base their decisions on data gathered in early phases of the project.

Amazon and Microsoft look for Data-driven design skills from UX designers

User-centered design

UX Designers are advocate for the users. User-centered design is a method/skill to help designers put their users at the center.

Emeral Works and Fitbit look for User-centered design skills from UX designers

Visual Design

UX Designers are designers after all, right? Fabricio Teixeira from the UX Collective already talked about how (some) designers are distancing themselves from ‘craft’.

Bold and Microsoft look for Visual design skills from UX designers

What else is in the skill set of a UX Designer?

UX designers also work with motion design, illustration and storytelling, while having skills in design thinking and coding, for example.

Others skills companies look in UX Designers: Design Thinking, Coding, Motion design, Illustration, Storytelling.

What software UX Designers use?

Top 3 Software for UX Designers: #1 Sketch, #2 Figma and #3 Invision

UX Designers use mainly Sketch, while Figma and InVision are less frequent in the job ads.

Where do these answers come from?

The data for this article comes from 50 job advertisements from 20 countries

Flags from https://twemoji.twitter.com/

I analyzed 50 job advertisements for UX Designers found on LinkedIn. These job ads came from 20 countries in the Americas (North and South, Asia and Europe. Some companies are very well-known (Amazon, Apple, Eletronic Arts, Ikea, Microsoft) while some others were new (at least to me). The full list of companies can be found here.

Take-away

#1 UX Designers are generalists

UX Designers have their plates full. They do a little bit of everything: Research, Prototype, Visual Design, User Interface, etc. In essence, a UX Designer will be a Designer who specializes in many fields.

#2 Every company is different and their recruitment needs are different.

Each company is different. A company hiring their first UX Designer have very different needs than one looking to hire their 100th UX Designer.

In this article, I have mentioned over 10 different skills/activities/software. But do not panic, not all companies will ask you to know it all.

To illustrate how companies might differ in their requirements, here is a comparison between some of the requests made by Amazon, Apple, Eletronic Arts, Ikea and Microsoft in a UX Design position.

Amazon, Apple, EA, Ikea and Microsoft requests for UX Designers: sometimes similar, sometimes different.

As you can see, companies might emphasize some skills more than others when hiring. The recommendation here is to spend some time researching the companies you are interested and what they are looking for. Which skills do they look for? Then make sure to build those skills and not all the possible skills :)

Jack Butcher


If you liked this article, I recommend to check the other guides I wrote looking at the Product, UI and Visual Design careers.

Product Designer: Explained

UI Designer: Explained

Visual Designer: Explained

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I'm Paulo Dziobczenski, the founder of Designcareer.co. Let's connect on LinkedIn or Twitter. 😉