What are the most essential UX skills? UX Question #40

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Nikki from Toronto asks: What are the most essential UX skills?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Nikki. This is UX Question number #40 and I am Ben Judy.

What are the most essential UX skills? Well, as I’ve said before, user experience is a multidisciplinary career field.

There is a core set of skills I think all UX practitioners should build, and beyond that is a vast universe of secondary or adjacent skills that could come in handy. And we often talk about hard skills versus soft skills.

The most essential, hard skills for UX’ers include: user research, information architecture, interaction design, user interface design (to include low fidelity wireframing and high fidelity prototyping), and usability testing and analysis. I think that’s a good list of required hard skills or technical skills.

Notice I’m not saying that coding is an essential UX skill. See episode 18 for my thoughts on that.

Now, I talked about soft skills back in episode 35. I mentioned empathy, attention to details, effective communication, and curiosity.

I’ll add a few more skills that I think are incredibly important in modern UX design.

Accessibility for web sites, mobile apps, and digital devices. As more and more organizations wake up to the moral imperative and the business value and legal necessity of accessibility, UX designers need to be experts at strategizing, designing and testing for the needs of all people.

I also think humility should be considered a basic requirement for any UX professional. Okay, being humble might be more of an attitude or a character trait. But I do know you can work on it, intentionally. You can practice giving a humble response or putting others in front of yourself.

There’s the cliche of the designer who thinks too highly of their own expertise—and they let you know it. Not only does a lack of humility make a UX’er unpleasant to work with, it will also show up in the outcomes they deliver.

I’ve said it before, empathy with other people is the most foundational UX skill—and I just don’t know how you can practice empathy if you can’t accept criticism of your work, or if your insecurities drive you to be a big self-promoter.

You know what else? Project management. Now, UX’ers do not need to be full-time, certified, project management professionals. But, as I discussed in episode 26, you must be able to adaptively lead a good UX design process that enables you to apply good UX principles, in any situation. All the research insights and UI prototyping tricks won’t help you, if you can’t figure out how to sequence and coordinate your efforts with the team around you.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?

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