It might be hard to wrap your head around how pervasive (and valuable) UX and UI skills are if you're still new to UX and UI. Once you get familiar with some of the core skills, you might start seeing them in almost every job description and how they can be applied far beyond just typical design fields!
Core skills in UX and UI
But before we start looking out there, let's recap some of the most important UX and UI skills:
The list could be longer with other, more niche skills. However, these are the broad skills that many UX/UI designers invest in as their core. So let's see how a few of these might match up with other careers.
1) Customer service
In most companies, customer service roles have the most contact with customers - which happens to be every UX designer's dream! But aside from being in constant contact with customers, customer service roles have a few things in common with UX/UI design.
Empathy for customers
This deep empathy for the customer comes up a lot in UX design. UX designers create apps and websites designed for the users, much like the solutions that customer services professionals propose to customers.
Additionally, the best customer service professionals will ask many questions before finding a solution. Not just to understand the customer's behavior but also to fully understand the problem. Adept - and sensitive! - questioning is a great skill in customer service and UX and UI design. In UX and UI, designers apply those sharp questioning skills to user interviews to gather insights into customers.
2) Frontend development
In many teams, frontend developers are close to UX/UI designers and often work alongside one another. And there are a few (not all) UI designers that may even have frontend coding skills. The link here is not coincidental.
Frontend developers brainstorm before building to create beautiful apps, websites, and landing pages. This brainstorm will often take the form of wireframing, laying out, or sketching what the page or app will look like before it takes shape.
Effective wireframing is also a core skill for UX and UI designers (particularly UI). There is some overlap between UI design and frontend development - particularly in their focus on the visual aspect of websites and apps. However, the main difference is that UX and UI designers hand over the optimal wireframe, and frontend developers build it themselves.
In comparison to their backend counterparts, frontend developers are concerned with the visual appeal and functionality of the website, landing page, or app. Again, frontend developers share this focus with UI designers.
This link means that you'll often see UI designers building technical skills and going into frontend development and frontend developers building their soft skills and transitioning into UI.
On the surface, copywriting seems unlikely to be connected to UX and UI. But the reality is that the best copywriters are concerned with more than just getting words on paper (or the screen!), which brings them close to UX and UI than you might think.
To create content that connects with their audience, copywriters dive into researching the topic and the audience. And, if they have them, copywriters will refer to their personas - not unlike user personas used by UX and UI designers.
Strong copy relies on an intimate understanding of who you're writing for in the same way an app or website is designed for a specific user. This means that both copywriters and UX/UI designers are sure to build in an in-depth research phase before getting started on any project.
Business and management consultants are often called jacks of all trades. And their broad range of skills and customer-centric mindset draws parallels to the work of UX/UI designers.
The very core of consultancy work is solving a problem or improving something within a business. Consultants often seek to understand the inner workings of the company and the issue at hand before applying a methodological approach, offering advice, or suggesting a solution. This means they'll look at the problem from multiple angles and assess the situation before acting. The problem-solving skills demonstrated by strong consultants are also found in UX and UI designers and applied more specifically to apps, websites, and other online products.
Consultants are usually "outsiders" dropped into other teams (and other companies). Consultants seek to understand how other teams work and communicate with them effectively to deliver a solution.
Strong cross-functional (working across teams) collaboration is an absolute must-have skill for successful consultants.
While decidedly "on the inside" of a company, UX and UI designers are often outside of the teams that will ultimately implement their solutions. And like consultants, they'll have to pitch the impact and importance of a change or improvement to other teams - cue, cross-functional collaboration!
Architecture seems like an unlikely match with UX and UI. But its foundation in design and fine-tuned attention to customer requirements bring it closer to UX and UI design than you might expect.
Building with purpose
Both commercial and private architects fundamentally aim to build something for someone or a specific purpose. Think about the architect who builds a home designed for the exact specifications of a family of four. Or the architect who designs the space for a government office. Architects rarely design or build without a customer in mind or a purpose.
To deliver purpose-built structures, architects must seek to understand how the space will be used for the purpose and people in mind. This thought process is not only familiar but crucial to the work of UX and UI designers as they build purpose-made apps, websites, and products.
The success of an architect's career and work is often tied to customer satisfaction. As a result, the best architects (and their firms) will take customer requirements carefully to understand the full scope.
UX and UI methodologies value this same customer focus highly. Designers in this space spend time uncovering precisely what their customers- or in this case, users! - want and need from their app or website.
Transitioning into UX and UI
Customer service, frontend development, copywriting, consultancy, and architecture have direct (and sometimes unexpected!) links to UX and UI design. Because they share many of the same skills, these careers can be a great jumping-off point to go into UX/UI.
But, of course, this list is not exhaustive. There are a wide variety of other careers like graphic design, translation, and product design, that make great candidates for developing preliminary skills for UX/UI.
As long as your role sparks a deep curiosity and empathy for customers or users - arguably the #1 skill for UX/UI designers - a transition into this space could be for you!
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