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how to be a specialist talent in ui/ux domain

UI and UX are vital interdependent aspects of design that have been dominating market trends in 2021. With the rise of behavioural design, virtual reality, augmented reality and digital health (thanks to the pandemic) the need for UI and UX has become more pronounced. With voice-activated apps like Alexa and Google Home, UI has also developed to include Voice UI and more organizations are geared to include it in the UX process. The boundaries of UI and UX are thus limitless and they are gaining leverage as necessary components of design.

Perspectives from UX Trend Report 2021

 The UX Trend Report published by World Usability Congress documents the latest trends in the world of UI/UX and opinions from user experience professionals across the world. The research also predicts the tendencies in the years to come. Some key highlights from the 2021 report deserve our attention.

In a survey conducted among 250 experts, 96% say that UX design will become more popular over the next 10 years. The experts listed the most important UX design trends to watch out for next year. The list is topped by predictive UX (20%), new ways to collaborate (15%), voice UI (13%) & DesignOps (12%). 37% of the experts say that AI is going to be the technology that will change UX the most in the next 10 years (37%). AI is followed by real-time gathering (12%) and VR/AR (12%). Psychological skills are ranked top among the skills that UX designers will need to master in the coming year. (74%). Interestingly, psychological skills are ranked above business skills (60%) and design skills (30%).

 Why the need for specialist UI and UX talent?

Without UI and UX, there is nothing that defines the user’s interaction and experience with the product. UX serves as the main foundation and skeleton of how the interface will function. An interface is a shared boundary across which two or more separate components of a computer system exchange information. UI thus defines how the end-users will interact with the foundation. For example, if you consider a website, UI involves the colours used on the website, the shapes and sizes of buttons, the width of the title bar etc. UX is however the basic layout of the website. It determines where the title bar, buttons etc. go as well as why these elements need to be placed strategically. This is so that the website is user friendly and also guides the emotional involvement of the user with the website.

Technical skills for UI and UX talent

Research skills
UI and UX designers must have the ability to curate relevant and useful data through their research. By using focus groups, questionnaires and other research methods they must be able to effectively empathize with the user so that data is gathered to best assist in developing the product, service or experience. UX researchers employ a mix of quantitative and qualitative research. UX research skills include observation, understanding and analyzing. Common research practices utilized by UX researchers include – Face-to-Face interviews, User surveys and usability tests. Interviewing extreme and mainstream users can help gain insights into what is expected out of the product, service or experience. What works for extreme users will most often work with a majority of users. Furthermore conducting expert and peer interviews also helps contribute to the cause.

Wireframing and prototyping skills
While developing a product it is necessary to visualise the results. To facilitate this, UX and UI designers use wireframing, prototypes, mock-ups and user flows before developing the product. This sets up a skeletal view of the product, offers sample product designs, and also realistic visual models of the final product. Creating a prototype report card worksheet helps give clarity on what knowledge is to be gained and how the testing will be conducted. Prototype ideas can include Storyboards, roleplays, models and mockups. Testing your prototypes with end-users, observing how they interact with it and garnering their feedback helps in knowing what ideas are profitable and what will work or won’t.

Beyond Prototyping
After prototyping your product or service, it is important to understand how difficult your design solutions may be to implement. The Ways to Grow framework helps solve this problem by identifying whether the concepts presented are extensions of existing offerings or are entirely new. It helps target whether the end-users are existing or new users. It is also important to keep your Business Model in mind as you think through your idea. A business model canvas can be used to analyse revenue streams, key partnerships and vital resources.

Visual design and design software
UI and UX designers are expected to be proficient at various design software like Figma, Sketch, Photoshop and Illustrator. Moreover, they need to be able to use these skills to best capture the tone, feel and brand character of the product.

Front end development skills
While UI and UX designers don’t need to be fluent in frontend development languages like HTML, CSS and Javascript, it can prove to be a valuable skill set during testing, as changes will be needed to be made to the website. It also helps for better collaboration with software engineers, as nuances of design in relationship with software programming will be better understood.

Information architecture
This refers to the effective organising and structuring of content to facilitate not just easy access to users, but also cognitive ease which helps in navigating a website better. Good IA design guides the user in finding information to help complete their task. It makes it easier for users to know where they are and where they want to go.

 Non-technical skills for UI and UX talent

 Curiosity
 A UI/UX designer’s curiosity needs to be piqued by the user’s needs. By asking the right questions and actively listening UI/UX designers can develop a better product based on the users’ needs.

Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others by putting oneself in the other person’s shoes. The emotional needs of the end-user need to be understood, to effectively design the product, and guide the user’s experience and journey through the product.

Communication and Collaboration
A UX/UI designer needs to communicate and collaborate with other teams as well as customers. Good communication skills not only help in conducting effective research among customers but also help in presenting your findings to the final stakeholders.

Adaptability
Adaptability is a vital skill needed by both UI and UX designers as it is important to take into account research findings that may go against their styles or design ideas. A good UX/UI designer should be able to learn on the go and effectively integrate various ideas into their work while keeping the result in mind.

Prioritization and time management
Time management is a key skill that is needed from UX and UI designers, as often there are multiple projects to be worked on at the same time. Critical areas of work need to be prioritized first to facilitate a smooth workflow while handling multiple projects.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking allows UI/UX specialists to evaluate ideas and identify the gaps in the reasoning and assumptions. A rich and dynamic user experience cannot be achieved without designers taking the time to fully understand the context of the end-user from various perspectives.

There are oceans of resources online when it comes to learning key concepts and principles in UI/UX. Multitudes of certificate courses are being offered at eminent educational websites. We have curated a few important sources that provide step-by-step guidance to develop and improve the most sought-after skills.

UI/UX Design Certificate Courses to sign up for

  1. UI/UX Design Certification by Calarts (Coursera)
  2. User Experience Research & Design Certification by University of Michigan (Coursera)
  3. Google UX Design Professional Certificate (Coursera)
  4. Professional Certificate in UX & Emerging Interaction Design (New York University)

Global UI/UX communities to join

  1. The Interaction Design Foundation Community
  2. Dribble
  3. Designer Hangout
  4. Mockplus Community
  5. UX Mastery Community

Alternative career paths to follow with UX/UI

  1. Chief experience officer
  2. Creative director
  3. Service designer
  4. Product designer
  5. Advertising
  6. Product manager

In Conclusion

With the advent of technological innovations, UI and UX design are integral to the success of most businesses in today’s world. Both UI and UX need to be perfectly executed and aligned with user needs to create an excellent user interface or experience. The opportunities are limitless in UI/UX design for people interested in roles that lie at the confluence of design, technology and business.

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