User Experience (UX) is one of Anais Digital’s strengths. It is part of our DNA. But what are the skills you need to become a UX Designer? What training should you do to get into the profession? Our UX team shares its point of view and experience on the topic.
It is the Holy Grail that everyone seeks: creating the best User Experience (UX) possible in order to make a website or application stand out and boost sales. Or, more generally, developing a product or service that meets the needs of its users.
This mission falls to UX Designers. It is such a crucial issue that a growing number of companies are investing to attract good UX Designers. Their goal? Improving their products’ UX.
What is a UX designer?
A UX Designer is, by nature, responsible for highlighting the needs of users. They seek to understand the user in order to ensure an optimal experience when scrolling down a website, browsing an app, using a service or using a digital or physical product.
The user journey must be easy, functional and enjoyable. So it is up to the UX Designer to anticipate user expectations while meeting their needs. This is the only way the designer will succeed in making a user perform a series of tasks: buy a product, subscribe to a newsletter, make an appointment, etc. while enjoying every step of the process.
UX Designers are involved throughout the process of designing or improving a product or interface. Their role begins very early on in the process, during the research phase. They are present at the end of the project, during the prototype testing stage.
They identify opportunities for improvement, eliminate friction, take an interest in the ergonomics and usefulness of the interface, product or service being designed and add joy and emotion to the customer experience. UX Designers contribute greatly to user satisfaction. The effectiveness of a product, a new concept or a feature largely depends on the designer.
What are the skills you need to have as a UX Designer?
Contrary to what the name suggests, a UX Designer’s role is not limited to drawing wireframes. The role is in fact much more global.
Several areas of expertise are grouped together under the term UX Design :
- UX Research
- UI Design
- UX Architecture
- UX Strategy
As a digital agency specializing in UX, we make a clear distinction between Research and Design in the UX process. These two poles complement each other. A UI Designer will always need input from the UX Researcher to come up with the best User Experience possible. Conversely, a UX Researcher will always need prototypes to carry out tests.
Whether they are more Research- or Design-oriented, UX Designers are great jacks-of-all-trades. They have a whole host of multidisciplinary skills: in-depth knowledge of cognitive and human sciences, ergonomics, market analysis, notions of graphic design, marketing, interface and web development, etc.
User Experience experts are often renowned for their ‘Swiss Army knife’ abilities. But as the industry develops, UX generalists are becoming scarce, making way for specialists.
UX skills and T-shaped skills
At Anais Digital, we are big believers in T-shaped skills when it comes to what you need to be a good UX Designer. You must have fairly advanced knowledge of each of the areas mentioned in this chart and be an expert in one to three specific areas.
Each of the members of the Anais Digital team masters the basics of User Experience as well as the key vocabulary and skills. Some have decided to dive deeper into an area of UX Design expertise. It could be interface ergonomics, accessibility, service design, marketing-oriented aspects, etc.
Here is another way to illustrate skills:
There are no unicorns in UX
Some mistakenly think that it is possible to tick (almost) all the boxes. That’s often still the kind of person that companies are looking for. Their job postings list skills that require years of experience or a full UX team to fulfill.
The unicorn myth should not put off aspiring UX Designers. At Anais Digital, we don’t hire unicorns. We’re looking for individuals specialized in their field of expertise. No one can be good at everything.
Our strength lies in the combination of these vertical skills, whether in the team or in a project squad. It is thanks to this mix that we are able to offer a successful User Experience, based on the real needs and expectations of users and not on simple assumptions and intuition.
Want to train in UX Design?
What are the qualities you need to be a good UX Designer?
A UX Designer must have an excellent digital culture. They must also be familiar with certain technical elements such as computer logic, coding and software.
UX Design also involves knowing about and understanding human behaviour, an essential skill for analysing the interactions between a person and a digital interface.
This is the most important quality a UX Designer can have. You have to be able to show empathy and fully understand the users and decipher their needs. You must be able to listen and talk with users, the team and all the parties involved. You have to cultivate team spirit in order to collaborate with the different people involved in the project.
To be a good UX Designer, you have to be inquisitive about everything all the time. When interviewing users, a UX Designer is always trying to understand why. You have to maintain your curiosity and be interested in all areas of the project, known and new.
User Experience leaves room for creativity. UX Designers must be able to be creative and innovate, whether by developing a methodology, finding a new way to reproduce what they have learned from a user or organising a unique workshop.
This soft skill is linked to the previous one. A UX Designer can be creative, but they must always be rigorous and draw from principles, particularly in social sciences and psychology. They must show critical thinking, analysis and a sense of brevity.
It is impossible to design an interface by relying on intuition. Every UX Designer’s recommendation must be based on sound and meticulously thought-out methodologies. This provides the cornerstone and legitimizes the tests and results presented to clients.
This approach is particularly important to Anais Digital. It is in fact one of our great strengths.
A UX Designer must be able to think on their feet, adapt to changes in the project, user responses and customer reactions. It is up to them to find answers and solutions when asked. It’s impossible to plan everything in advance when you are a UX Designer.
UX Designers act as guides. They advise clients on the problems encountered and advise them on the next steps to take. Planning upcoming workshops is therefore essential to keep the project moving forward.
What training do you need to become a UX Designer?
Being a UX Designer is still a relatively new role, there is no typical route leading into this profession.
Anais Digital’s experts combine social and digital skills.
Here’s a look at their various backgrounds and career paths:
“I studied business and marketing. I was working in the world of retail, packaging and branding when I came across the term UX Design somewhat by chance. Once I found out what it was, it was exactly what I wanted to do – focusing on the overall experience rather than a particular aspect. So I took two training courses: the Laptop Product Manager Course in Paris and the User Experience Design and Research University Certificate at the ULB.”
“I graduated with a law degree. After working as an HR manager in the food industry in France, I moved to the US, the UK and Belgium, where I trained in Front-end with Interface3 and digital communication at IHECS. This is where I first heard about UX. It suited me well because it combines the human side, methodology and coding. I also took the User Experience Design and Research University Certificate at ULB, before being hired by Anais Digital over 3 years ago where I now work as a UX Researcher, specializing in accessibility, and PM.”
“I have a more general academic background and studied humanities and social sciences, with a specialization in ergonomics. I started out doing physical ergonomics in offices and factories. As I have always loved everything digital and needed more of a challenge, I went into UX design and research by taking the Human Interaction Computer training course in San Diego, California.”
“I trained in web design at the Haute École Albert Jacquard. I learned the basics of ergonomics. But it was by experimenting and learning online that I developed UX Design skills and ended up working in this field.”
“I became a UX Designer somewhat by chance, ten years ago. The field was not as well known as it is now. I studied art. We did ergonomics and psychology but we didn’t talk about users or testing. However, these studies had a lot in common with what we do today as UX designers.
We have to take an interest in a particular audience, take the most instructive approach, and link our objectives to understanding and passing on knowledge. There were some common elements between art and the User Experience, and everything else I learned from books.”
“I studied programming and multimedia writing. While working as a developer, I gradually acquired skills in UI Design. I followed several online courses, which unfortunately didn’t go very deep into the subject, before taking the User Experience Design and Research University Certificate at the ULB.”
“My initial background was in industrial design. I studied at St. Luc’s. I liked the design part, but was less interested in the industry so I studied Human Centered Design at the Eindhoven University of Technology. My classes were a mix of design, marketing and sociology. Over the years, new professions have emerged. I was naturally drawn to Service Design which led to Anais Digital.”
“I have a university degree in psychology. I was interested in Human behaviour and how to have an impact on others and helping people in general. I took several online training courses and I obtained the ULB User Experience Design and Research University Certificate. This is how I ended up as an intern at Anais Digital, before being hired.”
How much does a UX Designer in Belgium make?
This is still a question many people ask themselves: How much does a UX Designer in Belgium make?
Obviously, everything depends on your background and level of expertise in User Experience. Salaries also depend on the type of company in which the UX Designer works. It could be a digital agency, a start-up or a major corporation.
On average, one can expect to earn :
- For juniors: between €30-40 k per year ;
- For seniors: between €40-50 k per year ;
- For experts: more than €50k per year.
To become a UX Designer, you need to combines a series of soft skills and chosen expertise. There is no typical career path to follow for this job.
UX Designers play an essential role in the User Experience (UX). User satisfaction and/or the increase in sales depend on their research, the development of prototypes based on analysis, testing and iteration.
This makes company and agency jobs highly sought after. In fact, Anais Digital regularly recruits people with UX training.
Click here if you would like to apply to join our team of User Experience specialists.