What soft skills are important in UX design? UX Question #35

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Christine from Cleveland, Ohio, asks: What soft skills are important in UX design?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Christine. This is UX Question number 35 and I am Ben Judy.

What soft skills are important in UX design? These are non-technical skills like how we interact with colleagues, how we solve problems, and how we manage our work.

I love this question because I have learned and observed that it doesn’t matter how proficient you are in the hard skills—your ability to conduct user research, design user interfaces, and so on—if you have a severe deficiency in your soft skills.

Let’s go through a few soft skills that are important in UX work, and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ll start with the obvious one: empathy. If you know anything about UX design, you probably know that our work is rooted in our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others—our users— and understand their needs, behaviors, and motivations. If you can’t do this, you end up designing for yourself. Because you’re only feeling your own feelings and you’re only considering what your own needs would be, if you had to use the product you are designing.

I addition to empathy, I would say a critical soft skill is open-mindedness. UX designers must be eager to consider different perspectives and integrate the ideas of others in our work. I talked in episode 21 about not taking feedback personally. You have to be open to hearing critique and even opposing points of view at all times.

Attention to detail is a very important soft skill. You’ve probably heard the cliche, “design is in the details.” Even the smallest detail can make a big difference in the user experience. You don’t necessarily start the design process by sweating the details, but knowing when to obsess over every pixel or every data point in the user research is a critical skill to hone.

Effective communication and collaboration are essential in UX design. You need to be able to clearly articulate your ideas and designs to stakeholders, team members, and users. You need to explain your design decisions, receive feedback, and collaborate with others to ensure that the final product meets user needs and accomplishes business goals.

There are dozens of other soft skills that are important, but the last one I’ll mention here is curiosity. What often separates good UX designers from the great ones is an enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. And of course, a curious UX designer asks great questions.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: How can I fight against imposter syndrome?

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