Having a range of skills to complement your technical expertise is critical for user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers. In our profession, we build fast designs (I am talking pen and paper wireframes), gather feedback from stakeholders (customers, business and technical), break the design and then start again. Managing this whole process takes a broad skill-set.
Here are three non-technical but nonetheless critical skills I’ve developed to help me succeed as a UI/UX designer.
Being able to interact comfortably with stakeholders is key. I was at a UX design leadership panel recently and the ability to build relationships through open communication was mentioned as a desirable skill across the board.
For example, I have always had strong relationships with developers because I took an active interest in asking about how things are built on a granular level and they are generally more than happy to share their knowledge. This was key to my own development. I’ve learnt coding skills on the go by talking to developers, asking questions and trying to build things myself. Nothing too technical though!
As a designer, you need to be resilient. The designs we create are not our babies – they are outstanding products we are building for our customers. Taking criticism from people — which is an inevitable part of the process — and handling it professionally will set you in good stead. Giving and receiving objective feedback is essential in constructing robust designs.
You might find yourself in a situation where you have a “hater” in the room and the natural reaction might be to shut them out or become defensive. Instead, you should see this as an opportunity.
Go grab a coffee with them, sit down one-on-one and ask them how the design, product or feature can be improved because you will find their feedback will be the most honest in the room. If you can win over the “hater”, you will find that they will start to advocate that idea and influence others, driving a culture of open discussion.
There isn’t one standard skill-set that a UX or UI designer has. You can pathway into a UX or UI role from a variety of professions, which has the added bonus of providing you with a huge range of potential skills. What’s important is that you continue learning along the way — you can never know too much!
Coming from mostly a “designer” style pathway, one of the most important areas of learning for me is coding. For many UX and UI designers, coding isn’t a typical skill. It also may not be a heavily used skill because project teams generally have a dedicated developer. But having that willingness to learn – be it coding or any other new skill – helps you grow your expertise, be more empathetic and build stronger relationships with the broader team.
Keen to grow your career in UX or UI design? Why not see if we’re hiring now! Check out our latest design job opportunities.
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