Business needs user experience specialists

In the new digital era, marked by the increased expectations of users, User Experience designers are becoming one of the most desired groups of employees in business today. Who is a UX designer? How do you train for this profession? What to look for in an employer?

According to PwC, 44% of Polish companies deem themselves mature in terms of using digital technologies. It is worth remembering, though, that the digital transformation that we are experiencing is a very complex process that requires involving and combining multiple elements. These elements include the so-called "user experience" - the entire impression that a user experiences while using a product.

A product sold by a given company needs to meet its user's needs, be comprehensible to them, and solve a specific problem. This most frequently applies to digital products such as mobile applications, websites and desktop sites. The role of a UX designer includes participation in the process of creating a product and designing it so as to make the user's memories of it as good as possible.

"The scope of a UX designer's duties varies and needs to be adapted to a specific project and company. A UX designer is a one-man band, curious about the world, people and new technologies which play the key role in their work. UX designers influence product strategy and should cooperate closely with decision-makers in a company." - says Agnieszka Garbacik, Head of Design at intive.

A good knowledge of prototyping software such as Sketch, InVision, and Axure, the ability to manage emotions in a team, graphic skills, and the ability to predict threats – these are only a few of the competences that a UX designer should possess. Knowledge of psychology and sociology, providing the ability to persuade people and ask difficult questions, will be very attractive to an employer. Empathy, which allows a designer to think about users, is also very significant.

What are the main duties of a UX designer?

A choice of a career targeted at UX design might turn out to be a very good move as it enhances employability and gives prospects for creative work in business and new technologies.

The most important duties of a UX designer include designing interactions and mock-ups that present the concept of a given product and determine individual functions and interactions with a user. Moreover, UX designers examine and test solutions with users to make them beneficial and helpful in solving the problem for which a given product was designed. Close cooperation with the customer and the business sector - preferably from the stage of designing the given solution - is another aspect. A UX Designer should have influence on the entire product development strategy and an opportunity to ask questions and simplify problems.

UX as the guardian of the customer's interest

The role of a UX Designer is to provide the customer with the most positive experience possible in contact with the product.

"The commitment of UX specialists to a project is what makes a product or service implemented by a given company solve a user's real problem and makes the product or service valuable. This enhances the probability of using the product or service on a regular basis, which in turn allows the company to meet its business goals. " - underlines Agnieszka Garbacik.

Research conducted on entrepreneurs indicates that the average increase of key performance indicators of companies after implementation of UX methods is as much as 84%, which shows the potential of this specialization. UX designers enable development of a product that responds to the users' needs, constitutes a part of a larger vision and opens up new business opportunities. This leads to simplification of complex navigation and rejection of all unnecessary functionalities. Other gains include reduced customer service costs due to a reduced number of reports and reduced service time. UX also contributes to customer loyalty to the brand - a user is more likely to use a given company's product and recommend it to others.

How do you become a UX designer?

You don't need to go abroad to get knowledge in this profession. Polish universities offer courses allowing students to broaden their knowledge of the psychology of design. AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków is an example here.

"We teach students that design starts from understanding the user's needs and problems. Teams of three students keep working on a given design problem under the supervision of our lecturers (who are great practitioners, too), mentors and our business partner. The student project is implemented at three stages: Learn - during which students analyse the design problem and develop the strategy of their product, Design - as part of which the interaction model is drawn up and the solution prototype is designed, and Measure - the prototype is verified with the users. Each of the stages ends with consultations with the mentor of the given stage and the business partner, which allows us to see what the given project lacks or which areas of it need improvement. Students work on their projects both during their classes and outside of them, for instance, during their research." - comments Maria Stojkow , Head of the "User Experience & Product Design" post-graduate programme at AGH.

Online courses (such as Hackdesign, Coursera, My.path, and Skillshare), frequently available in English, and workshops conducted periodically in the major Polish cities are other solutions. Emphasis should be placed on practical knowledge and learning about the issues that a UX designer deals with. Individuals interested in new technologies, having the ability to think analytically, with good interpersonal skills and wanting to influence their environment will certainly find something interesting.

Choice of an employer - what is important?

When applying for the position of UX designer, you should reflect on several important issues. The first thing is to specify the scope of duties - companies are frequently not entirely aware what a person in this position should do.

"What is of key importance is also the employer's awareness with respect to the role of a UX designer in the product development process and focusing the process itself on the users' needs. A UX designer needs this awareness to fully present their capabilities." - adds Agnieszka Garbacik.

The job of User Experience Designer is a great example of how the ongoing process of digitalization is changing the approach of business and setting new directions for development. The increased need to improve services is resulting in an intensification of the search for competent specialists who possess the appropriate skills. The range of sectors where UX designers are necessary is very broad. The largest proportion of UX designers work in software houses, but they are also present in e-commerce, advertising, banking and the pharmaceutical industry. As UX designers point out themselves, their work allows for fulfilment in many areas, is always interesting and very rewarding. Could it be the time for a change of profession?

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