Design your future in UX

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Design your future in UX

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 | Shishir Kumar

Design your future in UX

With the advent of voice technology, AI and AR, the learning trajectory for UX designers is slated to get steeper. Prof Col Shishir Kumar lists skills that aspiring UX designers must have

The 21st century digital business climate demands a constant reassessment of erstwhile skills and abilities. Paraphrasing the thoughts of the famous Austrian management consultant, educator, and author, Peter Drucker, “Only those skills will be relevant in the 21st century that contributes towards the gaining of newer skills and abilities pertaining to the digital realm”. The modern management pioneer’s opinion is spot-on when it comes to gauging the evolution of the skill-based ecosystem in the modern economic milieu.

Even those skill sets that were hitherto considered indispensable are now being rendered useless in the present business vista. Constant upskilling has become the present-day norm with the evolution of the technological landscape. Even more so, for professionals belonging to the all-permeating branch of UX design that operates continuously at the meeting point of next-gen technologies and human experience. With the advent of voice technology, AI, AR, the learning trajectory for UX designers is slated to get steeper.

As per a report released by Oxford University, the average shelf-life of a professional skill has dropped radically from thirty years to five years between 1984 and 2014. Furthermore, a survey initiated by the global staffing firm, Robert Half International revealed that employers are far more inclined to hire professionals who exhibit the eagerness to learn and develop new skills through advanced training and exposure.

Under such a shape-shifting premise, the need for UX designers to stay at par with the contemporary tech trends is paramount. Here are some of the top essential skills for ambitious UX designers to grow and stay relevant within the current tech scape:

Developing a sense of empathy: It is an unspoken rule in the UX industry that designs exist for the sake of the user, and not the other way round. For a design to be successful and pertinent, it must be shaped as per the sensibilities of the end-user. The central most factor integral to creating user-centric UX designs is a sense of deep empathy in the designer. While a decent designer is one who can understand the consumer, an extraordinary designer can empathise with the lives, challenges, troubles, and expectations of a user. A sense of empathy enables designers the opportunity to zero in on untapped pain-points. This intellectual skill is responsible for catalyzing much of the innovation that is witnessed in the industry. It allows designers to create lasting and powerful user-based experiences, which later translate into business excellence and greater returns.

The art of storytelling: Making a brilliant design is merely half of the matter. The designer must also be able to market, evaluate and create a story around their designs. The art of great storytelling is central to the longevity and impact of any design. The ability to build a narrative around the design which is empathetic to the end user is an essential skill for every aspiring UX professional as it marks the fine line between a good designer and a brilliant one. Besides having an imaginative faculty and communication skills, a sound knowledge of PowerPoint and video presentations is also helpful in marketing a design.

Teamwork is key: We are culturally habituated to think of designers like solitary philosophers who come up with ideas in moments of lonely brilliance. This however, is far from the truth. One of the most important skill sets in the designers’ toolkit is team work and collaboration. In fact the creative process itself is iterative and collaborative in nature. Great ideas and successful execution comes with teamwork. In the real world a UX designer must collaborate with business folks, technology folks, researchers, partners and more to successfully deliver a project.

Knowledge & application of Design frameworks: Design is a process. Every process needs frameworks to implement it effectively. There are many design frameworks that are used in UX design to help designers better understand users and their lives, design strategies and build the right experiences. Some important design frameworks that are used in the industry include Personas, customer journeys, empathy maps, card sorting and task flow design. These are all easy frameworks for designers to learn and implement in their projects and designers wishing to learn them can do so through many online courses including the UX Jumpstarted by ImaginXP.

Skilled in design tools: Although pen and paper will always be the mightiest tools for a designer to ideate, iterate and bee agile, it is also equally important to be able to translate your thoughts from paper to digital. There are many design tools available today for wireframing, visual design and prototyping. All designers should be proficient in at least some of these so as to effectively deliver UX design. Some popular design tools include Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma and Axure. 

That said, designing is an ongoing process demanding constant learning and up skilling. This makes it crucial to open your horizons and be passionate about learning new skills. Remember that the entire world is your teacher and you need to stay abreast with the changing pace of the industry. If you love digital designing, then UX designing is the destination for you.

The writer is Director General, ImaginXP

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