Where the real skill is in UX


Hi all

I’m a senior UX with 10+ years experience as I said in another thread it got me thinking: if I was to look for a senior designer, what would I look for?

And I though about the usual things like good knowledge of the appropriate pattern for an interaction, ways to conduct a website review etc etc

But it’s none of that: it’s how you deal with very complex, high pressure projects that have gone off the rails and you mitigate risk.

It takes a whole bunch of experiences to know how best that particular situation, how to manage certain individuals with strong opinions, when to defer to particularly sensitive political issues. and most of all calm everything down.

So if I was employing you. I would ask for a project that was super challenging and ask you how you used UX to get the project back on track. That takes more skills IMHO.



Not just how you used UX but how you handled the pressure.

I love that you share your thoughts. It’s really valuable to the community and I appreciate it.

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Is it UX that should be used to manage this? It seems to be more about soft skills and personality. Or do you mean using some UX research techniques like building empathy map, analyzing your colleagues or clients pains and gains to meet managerial challenges?

Could you give an example?



We used UX research to refute some business requirements that were derailing the project. So it was a very specific case of where UX helped align things.

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Ok now I get what you mean. But not completely :slight_smile:

The very purpose of UX research (and any research) is to find answers and to check the hypotheses. Through UX research we prove or disprove business requirements analyzing their value for business and users. UX results should not be used as a tool for solving managerial problems. If we reject a requirement, this decision should be made because it does not bring value to users or/and business and not because the climate inside the project team is destabilized.

Am I wrong?

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you’d be surprised by how political it gets

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I assume, you expect to see a candidate stable under pressure, has strong position backed with solid analysis and results, is persuasive, understands risks, and has a broad vision of a project. Right? You are not talking about manipulating research results to counterbalance bad management or political issues? Just want to be sure.



Oh god no!



Understood :slight_smile:

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Hello @lordmolesbury,

There are two important skills a UX Designer must possess. Being engaged in design training and hiring services at Designerrs Lab, we have had quite some experience in evaluating candidates for getting UI/ UX Designer jobs at different companies.

The first important skill is how much User-Centered Design they execute and whether do they have a Design Thinking or Designer’s mindset about solving problems. To know more about the difference between UCD Process and Design Thinking Process, check this article.

This simply means evaluating how do they go about taking design decisions while designing products. They should have the answer for every “Why” a recruiter asks. Be it from why did they choose particular features in the application, why are some functionalities more prior in the interface to why did they go about choosing a specific color palette in their application.

Whether they have a strong user validation for each of these design decisions is what makes a credible UX designer. Whether they always keep the users at the center while making design decisions.

Good designers are able to achieve this by having a thorough understanding and hands-on practice of the User-Centered Design Process and Methods. Depending upon the kind of role you are hiring for (Junior UX Designer, Senior UX Designer, Design Manager), the questions you want to inquire about as per their skill set would change. Often giving, on spot assignment and overseeing how the designer tries to solve the problem, what is the process they use to come up with final solution is a good way to judge their practical skills rather than theoretical knowledge about terminologies. You don’t want just some pretty UI screens in a UX Designers Portfolio.

Another important skill of a UX Designer in a company is to sell and advocate the needs of users and the design to stakeholders (Business Team, Development Team, Marketing Team). A UX designer is at the epicenter of these departments where in he/she should would understand the constraints and then go about making something desirable for the users, viable for the business and technically feasible.

Here is when strong understanding of the design process and artefacts, soft skills, and advocating users needs comes into action. Its important for a UX Designer in a company to work with limited resources and time, generally which leads to innovation.

Hope, this article gave you some more insights about some most important skills of a UX Designer :slight_smile:
Do share your thoughts to take this discussion further.



I agree with all of that; it’s such a given in what I do.

We go a lot for GDS (government digital service) assessments. They are relentlessly user driven design assessments. Everything on screen must have evidence it represents some user need.

I’ve seen projects - whole projects! - fail because of some non validated business requirement creeping into the design.

I think my point was how to use your UX knowledge to exert influence on others. It’s not easy!

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I think this is a great question to ask a potential design employee - I may just use it in future interviews. In my experience if a situation or project has become highly pressured, its due to mis-understanding. There is a good chance there hasn’t been complete buy-in or clear understanding from the production team (UX, designers & dev) and stakeholders. Using UX in theory, should guide this process of creating a coherence between all parties and assist in eliminating mis-understanding.



Yes. I understand its difficult to communicate to the stakeholders the value of design. We in our organization often make stakeholders listen to actual user statements coming from user research to really make them understand what users really need and not what the business team wants to make money out of.

Another way to gain the confidence of stakeholders is by showing them quantitative results (numbers) like an increase in Daily Active Usage (DAU) by performing A/B Testing of two variations of design. One more inclined towards a business proposition and the other primarily focused on user needs.

Trying out these practices can give you significant results gaining the confidence of stakeholders. All the best :+1:

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This is refreshing! Too often, UX designers get caught up in tasks of UX designers, ie. UX research, UX analysis bla bla bla! At the end of the day, it’s not about the tasks that keep you busy, but the IMPACT you can have on the company.

I’ve followed this thread, and as expected, lots of kickback from people. This is common. A lot of UX Designers fade in with the company’s wallpaper, with their heads in research or analysis. When it comes to actually DOING something of value, the heat is on and then the UX designer can be held accountable for something concrete for a change.

I love your approach cause this will force the UX designer not to be busy with UX designer work, but to actually have a concrete impact in the business.

This scenario about challenging projects and how one goes about mitigating the risk - I’m in this exact situation and despite all the UX activities, find myself saving a company at the bring of collapse. UX is not what we always think it is: the nice user journey or 5 page persona reports… Sometimes it’s getting stuff done!