Have you ever used a website, app, or product with frustration, thinking how much better it would be if the designers would have just done …? Do you get overly frustrated at doors with no visible indication of if you’re supposed to push or pull? If you find yourself analyzing behaviors in relation to technology or items, then UX Design might be for you.
What is UX Design?
UX design stands for user experience design, sometimes called UI design (user interface design) or HCI (human computer interaction). The purpose of the job is to design things (most often related to technology) with the user in mind to make products that are easier to use while limiting user error. While this is often used for website and app design, those are not the only areas they work in. UX designers are also involved in designing airplane controls, medical devices, and car dashboard interfaces. This video gives a great overview of the field.
Why would a UX designer need to be involved in designing an airplane cockpit? 32% of fatal plane accidents between 1950-2000 were cause by pilot error (not weather related). By analyzing the behavior of the pilots in simulated scenarios, UX designers are able to make adjustments to the design and functions of the cockpit controls to limit user error.
How do you use the analysis of behavior in this career?
UX designers use user centered design strategies, which evolve around analyzing human behavior. Let’s assume you’re working on a website for an online store. The first step is to create a wireframe, or drawn design, of what you want the page to look like and where the buttons will take you. Next you put a user (someone who will actually use your website) in front of your functioning website and see where they go, how they interact with the features, and if they get stuck anywhere. If it takes 10 mouse clicks every time they want to put something in their cart, that is going to be punishing to their shopping behavior. Once you determine who your typical user is, designers create personas (fictitious users) and scenarios about the persona to depict how your product fits into a user’s life.
How to get into the field
To become a UX designer, you need to be detailed oriented, understand how to analyze and interpret human behavior, and be good with technology. You don’t need to have a degree in computer programming, but knowing the basics of HTML and CSS would be helpful. Some companies have design only positions with separate jobs for the programming, but others may combine both jobs into one position.
You don’t need to get a specific degree for this field, though there are degrees for it. A background in graphic design, programming, psychology, marketing, neuroscience, or behavior analysis is helpful. If you don’t have a technical background, you will need to take it upon yourself to learn the basics and get some practice with the tools of the trade, like Balsamiq Mockups or Axure RP. Once you’re comfortable with the technical aspects of the job, get connected with other designers in your area by going to conferences or connecting through LinkedIn or Meetup.
Stats for this job
Growth: Based on the job title of ‘Web Developers’, projected growth from 2014-2024 is 24%
Salary: The average salary range is between $47-$102k with median entry level salaries (0-5yrs) around $68k and experienced level salaries (20+years) around $115k.
Education: No minimum degree required.
Check out these books and websites if you’re interested in learning more about this field:
The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
The UX Book by Rex Hartson and Pardha Pyla
 Dearden, L., The one chart that shows what causes fatal plane crashes. (2015) Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/the-one-chart-that-shows-what-causes-fatal-plane-crashes-10494952.html
 Magain, M., What Does a UX Designer Actually Do?. (2013) Retrieved January 25, 2017, from https://www.sitepoint.com/ux-designer-actually/
 Magain, M., How to Get Started in UX Design. (2014) Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://uxmastery.com/how-to-get-started-in-ux-design/
 Web Developers. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm
 User Ecperience Designer Salary. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=User_Experience_Designer/Salary