Q&A: Tips for Becoming a Great UX Designer

With the explosion of mobile and web development for both B2B and B2C audiences, the user experience has never been more critical. Not surprisingly, the UX skill set is in great demand.

In fact, research for The Creative Group's Salary Guide shows that some of the largest salary increases in the coming year will go to those with interactive expertise. UX designers, in particular, are expected to see notable bumps in pay. But what sets a UX designer apart from the crowd?

We spoke to Rob Thomas, director of CX/UX/UI at MasterControl, a software solutions company based in Salt Lake City, to find out what it takes to truly succeed as UX designer in today's business environment.

In your role, you oversee a team of UX designers. From a technical standpoint, what are the key skills required?

UX designers really need to understand the technical context of who and what they are designing for – namely, the user and the device. They do not need to be experts in all areas, but the ability to have an intellectual conversation about technical aspects is essential.

What about soft skills? Which are most important for today's UX designer?

When I hire UX professionals, the most important skills are the soft skills. Their ability to communicate from all aspects – verbal, written, physical and visual – are of the utmost importance in succeeding as a UX designer at any level. The best in the industry have polished and perfected these skills. They also need to be able to keep things moving forward and on track. Time management, leadership and the ability to champion individuals, teams and ideas are all attributes that become essential as the UX professional develops in his/her role.

Looking at your team right now, what are the characteristics of the most successful UX designers?

  • They have the ability to connect, lead and inspire people from multiple disciplines.
  • They follow "the process"  not a completely prescribed process, but one of principle that ensures they are clear on priorities.
  • They don't jump to solutions too early.
  • They have taken the time to truly hone their craft.
  • They have cultivated relationships of trust. As a result, people seek them out for their expertise and enjoy working alongside them.
  • They adapt and adjust quickly to change.
  • They are dedicated to a higher level of achievement.

Related post: The Convergence of UX and Storytelling