what is a UX designer?

As a user experience (UX) designer, you make a product or service usable and accessible for its users. Whether utilizing a service or interacting with a digital product, like browsing a website and navigating a mobile app, user experience is vital. You ensure that all aspects of interacting with the company's products are delightful and effective.

UX design involves building intuitive and simple interaction experiences by providing fun and aesthetically pleasing formats. To solve user problems and provide a positive experience, you research the needs of end users. For instance, you seek to understand users' motivations, attitudes, desires and expectations. Learning the pain points of the company's customers helps you create a seamless customer experience.

UX designers create digital products using interactive processes rooted in user-centric problem-solving and design thinking. As a UX designer, you work in various companies that rely on digital products. For instance, you could work for technology companies or information technology (IT) consultancy firms. Some UX designers also work as freelancers, assisting various companies with app or software development. The role requires creativity to create appealing visual designs that improve user experience.

Would working as a UX designer suit your creativity? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a UX designer role.

UX designer jobs

average UX designer salary

According to Job Bank, UX designers earn an average salary of $120,147 per year. The earnings depend on experience and expertise. If you are new to the role, you take home a lower salary than UX designers with several years of expertise. That's why entry-level UX designers take home $110,708 annually, while experienced workers make over $122,844 yearly.

how to increase your salary as a UX designer

If you want to boost your earnings, consider specializing in one aspect of user experience. For instance, focusing on visual design can improve your earnings in game development sectors, while interaction designers (IxD) earn more in service industries. Taking additional courses and gaining certifications improves your salary expectations.

The size of the company you work for also influences your earnings. When you work for a startup with limited resources, you start with a lower salary, but it is a great way to gain valuable skills. Large organizations have unlimited resources and pay higher salaries. Due to the complexity of the tasks in large companies, you can negotiate a higher salary.

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types of UX designers

User experience design is a multidisciplinary role with multiple niche specializations. Some of the areas UX designers specialize in include:

  • UX visual design: you use visual elements and graphics to solve UX problems. For instance, to ensure a better user experience, you develop wireframes and prototypes for testing products or websites. You also add design elements that maximize a site's usability while adhering to the brand guidelines.
  • UX research: as a UX researcher, you conduct focus groups, surveys and usability testing to better understand the user experience of a digital product. After studying human behaviours, you assist the design team in making the necessary adjustments to improve the UX design.
  • UX writing: when you specialize in UX writing, you create all the content that users interact with when using an app, engaging a service or visiting a website. You understand the audience and use words to encourage users to interact with the company's products.
woman sitting in front of desktop computer
woman sitting in front of desktop computer

working as a UX designer

Are you passionate about creating visually appealing designs? Here are the specific duties and working conditions of a UX designer.


UX designer skills and education

The educational requirements for becoming a UX designer include:

  • university degree: you require a bachelor's degree in visual arts or digital media design to become a UX designer. If you pursue visual arts, you can specialize in graphic design, communications or commercial art. A diploma in graphic arts is also required. To work in the technical, scientific or medical field, you require additional training in architecture, engineering and scientific skills.
  • build a portfolio and get professional certification: when you have the necessary training, it is important to build a portfolio through internships and independent projects. In Ontario, if your project involves graphic design, you need a licence from the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario.

competencies and characteristics of UX designers

Focus on building the following skills to create a solid foundation for your career as a UX designer:

  • empathy: as a UX designer, you put yourself in other people's shoes. Empathy helps you understand users' problems or challenges when interacting with a website and present ideal solutions from a user's point of view. Empathy lets you obtain the best information from user research sessions with focus groups.
  • communication skills: as a UX designer, your job involves interviewing users and communicating feedback to the management team. Communication skills help you eloquently present your findings and solutions to clients and management.
  • collaboration skills: as a UX designer, collaboration skills help you work harmoniously with your team. You can leverage others' expertise when exploring solutions and take feedback when you have collaboration skills.
  • critical thinking: as a UX designer, critical thinking skills are important for innovating new solutions and challenging your assumptions. UX roles also require creative and critical thinking to keep you on top of your game.

FAQs about working as a UX designer

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a UX designer.


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