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Innovation

UX design and research gains traction as a key career role

The corporate world has gained 'a greater understanding of UX design and how investing in UX design teams can greatly affect their revenue and overall business goals'.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on
UX UI designer planning application for mobile phone
Getty Images/iStockphoto

There's a great deal of momentum toward user experience (UX) design and research as an integral piece of the software process, not to mention the entire range of products and services. 

Recently, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) announced it was running a new UX research degree program, launched this fall, developed in collaboration with Google. This is the first degree program in UX research, the school says. "Instructed by leading faculty and mentored by Google design leaders, students will be prepared to lead design sprints and find tomorrow's solutions for today's challenges. In the UXR program, students learn to use analytics, consumer data, and behavioral insights to generate opportunities to improve services and products end to end." 

This program is a follow-on to SCAD's user experience design degree program, launched in 2016. "Google leadership approached SCAD about the formation of the program because of the extreme need for UX researchers," the university says, with at least 750,000 openings reported across the US. "Major technology, finance, retail, and real estate industries are in demand for these professionals who establish, drive, and evolve insights that inform the customer experience."

As many services and products are delivered or supported digitally, UX research and design has become an even more critical component of software development as well. UX design has become front and center in the process. 

The corporate world has gained "a greater understanding of UX design and how investing in UX design teams can greatly affect their revenue and overall business goals," says Camren Browne of CareerFoundry. Retail sales are now heavily influenced by mobile design alone, and mobile web-influenced sales outweigh non-web-influenced sales. "In response to these trends, companies are doing everything they can to make sure their users' mobile and web experiences are positive ones."

Along with UX research skills, as offered through the SCAD/Google program, Browne outlines the following skills as key to the UX design role:

  • Wireframing and prototyping
  • UX writing
  • Visual communication and UI
  • User testing
  • Business acumen
  • Research skills and analytics
  • Customer service
  • Coding and development

Recent job postings emphasize the nature and requirements of UX design, culled from ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Google:

Accessibility UI/UX designer/researcher (electronics): "Support planning and conducting usability studies to evaluate new and existing products, and make constructive suggestions for change to make products more accessible Conduct benchmarking studies of competitor products from accessibility point of view. Evaluate products to make more accessible. Analyze accessibility related regulation to ensure compliance. Create awareness within company related to accessibility including creating training materials, planning for promotion and trade show support."

Web UX designer (payment process services): "Contribute to all aspects of design and execution, including pitching ideas, designing products and features (workflow, visual design, interaction design, and prototyping), and partnering with research to test ideas. Collaborate with product and UX team lead to translate concepts into user flows, visualizations and prototypes that lead to intuitive user experiences with an emphasis on both customer-facing applications, both desktop and mobile form factor; Deliver wireframes and visualizations optimized for a wide range of devices and interfaces with a focus on device-agnostic design."

Business analyst/senior UX designer (IT services): "Design effective and engaging experiences and helping teams adopt common design standards. Collaborate with other designers and architects to define common design standards and build  shared UI technology across projects. Make contributions across the design lifecycle, including user research, interaction design and usability testing. Conduct research and analysis to support the business operations to an internal business segment, division, group or line of business. Assists management to resolve business issues. Designs, documents and re-engineers business processes and publishes business metrics results."

User experience designer (financial services): "Support UX and IT design integrations, testing, QA- ensures pages being released are in line with corporate standards and best practices. Collaborate with IT to deliver new functionality and troubleshoot issues as they are identified Transform draft materials and concepts into concise and meaningful end products. Design, define requirements, and deploy concepts that will be used to construct digital platforms for both web and mobile for global enterprises.

UI/UX designer lead (association): Translates user experience design requirements to technology teams. Collaborates with management to create new, and update existing, user experiences.  Leverages human-centered design processes, design thinking, user research, and best practices to shape product design. Conducts user research via tests, surveys, user testing, analysis of analytics, and other methods to gather insights in user behavior. Assesses, optimizes, and recommends UX strategies and tactics for the organization's digital properties and channels. Provides UX guidance, technical expertise and leadership to product teams around how they deliver websites, apps and other digital experiences."

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