Hi, I have been a lurker here for a while. Recently I have been questioning my aspiration to become a UX designer. Just a little background, I’ve been working as a front-end developer for the past 10 years and looking to possibly change careers over to UX. I’m really interested in helping people and companies improve the usability of their products and services. Personality wise I lean towards introversion but have no problem talking about subjects that interest/excite me. Rarely have I had to make big presentations or talk to external clients. I’ve seen a few blog posts on various sites emphasizing you must have serious communication skills if you want to become a UX designer. My question is should I let my introversion stop me from pursuing a career in UX? Does one have to be a master communicator to become a UX designer or were these posts just written by extroverts? I stumbled upon this old article on Smashing Magazine about introverts and UX: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/201…esign-process/ which gave me some hope.
Hi, UX Dude. I don’t think the extroversion as you describe it above is specific to a UX role. Most of the businesses expect from their employees to communicate, talk in meetings etc. Since I see that you’re living in NYC, that’s a potential disadvantage because US is considered to be a very extroverted country, whereas they would leave you completely alone if you would be living in, say, Finland. However, even in the most extroverted places people are becoming aware that introverts are lurking among them. If you manage to find a company where you wouldn’t be the only UX designer, you might be able to split the work so you would do more of the private work and another person would do more of the talking. As the article you linked says, all types of profiles are needed in this field.
My bottom line is, don’t let introversion hold you back. I’m an introvert and a UX researcher, which means that I’m constantly doing interviews with potential customers. It tends to be draining and an extrovert would definitely enjoy doing this more, but it is very rewarding. And in the end of the day, I get to analyse the data, find connections and patterns, and come up with solutions in my peace and quiet, which is what - in the end - makes me love this job.
Nice to meet a fellow introvert, UX Dude. =)
Definitely don’t let your introversion stop you from pursuing a career in UX.
Are introverts oppressed? I reckon yes. Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts tend to be more voluble, but introverts are hard for extroverts to understand. Extroverts seem to dominate public life, and therefore set the expectations. Many introverts are good at behaving like extroverts.
Being an introvert does not mean you’re more shy, depressed, anxious, misanthropic, feeble, negative, or intellectual than anyone else. It just means that, while extroverts are energised in the company of others, introverts get tired quicker if they’re around people all the time. It’s counter-intuitive, but introverts can be just as upfront and present when they need to be. There were a lot of actors in my university course, and a lot of them are introverts—which seems strange for people who were heading into careers on the stage or in front of the camera.
My advice is to build on your strengths: get alongside people and explain things you’re passionate about. It doesn’t all have to be front the front of a room, but I’d encourage you to work on your public speaking manner and to get used to making your voice heard—those skills will be very useful for your life ahead, and will make you a well-rounded and very employable professional. But never be ashamed of being an introvert.
Typically introverted attributes like being good at listening, reflecting, reasoning, arranging, thoughtfulness, thinking before speaking, thorough preparation, reading, researching and writing are all pretty ideal for UX roles, I think you’d agree. =)
Susan Cain did a fantastic TED talk about The Power of Introverts. She also does some other cool stuff on her website: The Quiet Revolution http://www.quietrev.com/
So, do UXers need serious communication skills? Yes, but that doesn’t exclude introverts at all. It just seems that way!
Thanks AnjaM and Lukcha!
Yeah! I’m an introvert too! We are excellent communicators because we think before we speak and are perfectly comfortable with silence! We come across as quiet because we’ve got multiple thought processes running internally and everything we do has purpose. We don’t talk for the sake of talking.
Hey there ux_dude. I am indeed a hard-core introvert who co-wrote that article you mentioned years ago, and the points still hold true today. There are ways to project your ideas and to thrive that can best work for you, which will be needed in your career with UX or anything else you’ve decided to pursue. You can do it!
You are indeed a genius for your response and this couldn’t have been better said. Yes, I agree that these qualities are ideal for UX roles.
@ux_dude go for it but learn to be more comfortable among people, inquisitive and provoke (evoke) conversations. Stir the waters! Follow me on Twitter @uxyemi for educational UX topics and all things UX.
Hey SuAnne -
You might remember me as the outspoken(but really introverted) person at UX Book club from years past. This sounds silly, but I’m thinking that my introverted nature when it comes to work settings really could be the part of an internal block I’ve had around matching my soft-skills up with employment opportunities. Now I really want to go read your and Angela’s article in full.
It’s so funny since I only minutes ago pinged her on FB about that article. This was after I saw the topic of this thread. I had made the mistake in 2013 of thinking that your article explored users as introverts and extroverts, and put aside, but never got back to it. Now I’m kicking myself for missing out.
Well glad to meet another introvert. I am an introvert too … but that helps me think with clarity towards my design and focus on the end product with a better judgement.
I recommend reading the book written by Susan Cain, “Quiet”.
The book is a great insight into the world of introverts and also covers some ideas how to turn introvertism into an advantage in office space and outside them.
Agree with what most of these people are saying. I’m also an introvert and don’t do great in crowds of new people. However, since I’ve been exposed to more stuff in the UX realm, especially UX Research, I’ve realized that I’m starting to cope much better when it comes to meeting & chatting with strangers.
I think one thing to remember: Let this slight uncomfortable situations empower you to improve a few skills that an introverted person don’t necessarily have. Don’t push back and stay in your comfort zone. Embrace the challenge and also find ways to collect data other than face-to-face. I’ve implemented a tool on our website that provides me with passive feedback and that’s very effective! So if you feel like everything is getting too much, try alternatives.
Concluding: Never let your personality influence your passion & desire for UX. It’s tough & draining yet very rewarding!