The development of a digital product (apps, websites, etc.) is full of challenges, as well as, rewards. No two design projects are the same, and therefore, the problems faced aren’t the same. While everyone can become a designer by attending courses or watching YouTube tutorials, it is difficult to become a great and successful UX UI designer. In order to stand out, not only acquiring hard skills but also soft skills for designers are integral.
As per Icons8, 92% of decision-makers agree that soft skills matter as much or more than hard skills while hiring for UX UI designers.
While hard skills are easy to put down on a resume, soft skills are elusive and often relate to emotional intelligence, personality traits, and situational awareness. These non-technical skills can be the difference between a good UX designer and a great one!
Let’s dig deeper to understand the nuances of both hard and soft skills.
Hard Skills for UI/UX Designers
Hard skills refer to technical skills that can be acquired at a university, through training, or on the job. These skills include:
- User research – finding out what the target audience wants.
- Information architecture – organizing information in a comprehensible manner which includes navigation, labeling, and search functions.
- Wireframing and prototyping – wireframe is the blueprint for each screen of a UI and prototyping refer to testing the functionality of the digital product.
- Proficiency in visual communication – includes an understanding of visual concepts like images, typography, layout, icons, color, and design theory.
The skillset of a UX/UI designer goes beyond hard skills. Although technical skills are important, UX professionals need to nail personality (soft) skills as well to achieve the pinnacle of success in a competitive sector. These skills appeal to one’s emotional intelligence and problem-solving ability that makes all the difference in the end. Here, take a look at the vital soft skills for designers.
Essential Soft Skills for UX UI Designers
1. Effective and clear communication
So, you’ve come up with an amazing design idea for a project? Great! But, can you convey your ideas and explain the thought behind the design? If you lack good communication skills, you won’t be able to nail the presentation; and that is crucial to work with other designers or other members of the team.
Effective communication skills help UX UI designers communicate them to the team members and the clients. And, communication is imperative to complete any project with ease. Since nobody can understand your thought process better than you, it is important that you can confidently showcase what you’re thinking.
It is impossible to design a product that fulfills a client’s objectives if the designer doesn’t understand the desires and needs. To put it simply, how can you ever understand what someone else wants or is going through if you don’t step into their shoes?
This is what having empathy means. It is about having the ability to understand the emotions, feelings, objectives, and thoughts of people. An empathetic designer can easily incorporate those findings or understandings into the design project and create experiences that are not just relevant, but valuable to the people who are going to use them.
One of the best ways to understand the needs of the end-users is by talking to them, via user interviews, usability tests, and surveys. Observation is another great technique.
3. Creativity – ability to step outside the box
To be honest, technical skills can be taught. But, creativity comes from within and it is characterized as an act to turn innovative, unique ideas into reality. One’s ability to think outside the box and design something extraordinary is one of the highly desirable soft skills for designers.
Designers with a creative bent of mind are capable of recognizing or generating ideas that are brand-new, unique, and perceive simple things in new ways. However, creativity is a skill that must be honed and sharpened by staying updated about the recent trends and getting inspired by the works of other designers.
4. Problem-solving skills
Design is about solving problems and making sure that everything is smoother and easier for the end-users. A designer’s job is to select the best solution after a series of trials and errors. The problems have to be tackled from all angles after understanding the specific brief given by the client and working on the constructive feedback provided on the prototype of the design.
No matter what project you’re working on, problems are bound to crop up, especially when you least expect it. Great problem-solving skills help to stay calm and tide over the challenges.
5. Open-minded and flexible
Open-mindedness might not be a skill that jumps into your head when you’re thinking about UX design, but it is essential. Being narrow-minded would make it impossible to come up with solutions or great designs. Designers need to be receptive to new ideas and accept other people’s views. Also, one must have the ability to adapt easily to change and implement new design trends. There is more than one instance where clients add in a new requirement or decide to change everything, and therefore, being flexible and open-minded is key to overcoming such challenges.
Being passionate is probably a must-have soft skill regardless of what field you’re in, but it is particularly true for a UX designer as a lack of interest is going to quickly reflect into the design of a product. If you designers are not passionate about what they do, they’re not likely to be successful in the UX design field.
The job of a designer includes tricky workloads, odd hours, and lots of criticisms from clients, employers, and colleagues. Unless one has the drive, the passion, and the desire to learn, the professional hardships can quickly make one weary.
7. Love for constructive criticisms!
No design is perfect. A perfect design is a myth because there are no set algorithms or mathematics, and people’s desires and needs are always changing. So, a UX/UI designer must acknowledge this and be open to constructive criticisms. Designers have to be a team player and be willing to make changes to the design according to the feedback.
Soft skills for designers are equally important as hard skills, if not more important. Possessing a combination of both hard, soft, and questioning skills enables UX UI designers to create a great digital product.