What is user experience (UX) design? And why is it so big right now?
As well as answering these questions, this article will explore how UX design can enhance people’s lives, how the industry will change and grow in the coming years, and how you can get trained up as a UX designer without going to design school. Oh, and did I mention that the average salary of a UX designer is approaching $90,000?
Before we start, let’s quickly clarify what user experience and UX design are. Don Norman, who coined the term “user experience” while he was working for Apple in the nineties, explains:
I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system, including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.
UX design involves research into user personas and user goals; planning of user journeys through an app, website, or product; and sketching of user interface designs and specifications. It’s the UX designer’s job to meet with clients and customers, and plan out the product to enable them to meet their goals in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible.
Why is UX design so big? ($90,000 big)
Scroll through a design job board today and the demand for user experience (UX) designers is clear. It’s not hard to work out why: consumers now interact with online stores and services primarily through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
People tend to use mobile devices while waiting in line, or in the back of a cab, or walking to an appointment. The duration of each session is therefore short and often subject to extrinsic limitations that the service must work within: if someone thinks they won’t be able to complete their purchase in an app before they reach the pharmacy counter, they’re likely to abandon their cart and start scrolling through Instagram feeds of upside-down kittens and brunch.
Businesses increasingly recognise that having apps and websites with an intuitive and functional user experience is not only crucial to their customers’ happiness and satisfaction; it’s also key to their company’s brand and profitability. The commercial rewards of good UX design can be huge, which means that UX designers can also attract very healthy salaries.
Glassdoor estimates the average salary of a UX designer in the USA to be almost $90,000, as companies battle to hire the best:
And the rewards don’t stop there. A career in UX design will also put you at the cutting edge of app and web design – a discipline that is constantly changing and innovating. In the next few years we expect to see an increase in demand for designers applying their expertise to the UX of virtual reality platforms. (Did you see the legend Ronnie O’Sullivan FALL OVER while trying to play VR pool? Slight UX glitch.)
Next, let’s take a closer look at the reasons why UX design is so important, and why it can make for a rewarding vocation.