User Experience (UX) Design is one of the fastest growing fields. If you think about the growth in smartphone and tablet sales, it’s not surprising that the field of UX is experiencing double digit growth. Every interaction you have with your device has in some way been influenced by a UX designer. Smartphone sales alone grew from 122 Million in 2012 to 190.5 million units in 2015.  On the other hand, from 2012 to 2015, UX climbed up from #43 to #14 as the top 100 best jobs in America. With advances in virtual reality and the internet of things, the demand for UX Designers is only going to increase.

There hasn’t been a better time to become a UX Designer. The average starting salary for a UX Designer in the United States is $68K. The career path is quite interesting. In big companies such as Facebook, Google & Amazon etc., the role of a UX Designer breaks down into specific positions such as UX Researcher, Information Architect, Content Strategist etc. Within small to medium sized companies, the roles are more all-inclusive, meaning a UX Designer is responsible for the entire design cycle from User Research to Usability Testing. Typically, new entrants in the field start off with smaller companies to gain experience in all parts of the UX Design process. After a few years of experience, the role becomes more focused based on strengths and likes/dislikes.

UX Design plays a critical role in both user acquisition and retention. That is, if you build something awesome, more people will want to use it and keep using it. It’s what allows Apple to charge a premium and sell millions of iPhones, iPads and Macbooks on launch day. It’s what allowed companies like Uber, AirBnB and Tesla to disrupt the century old taxi, hospitality and automotive industries. They completely altered the user experience around their product/service to become industry leaders and innovators.

Some of the most valuable brands in the world have employed a design-centric philosophy to differentiate themselves from the rest. Often cited by UX evangelists, Tom Gilb’s research in the 80’s found that every dollar a company invests in UX can yield a return of up to $100. Another study conducted by the Design Management Institute (DMI), one of the largest communities of design leaders, revealed that over the last 10 years, design-led companies have maintained significant stock market advantage and have outperformed the S&P by 228%. Some of the companies in the study included Apple, IBM, Ford, Nike, Starbucks & Walt Disney.

If this isn’t convincing enough, according to a study conducted by Missouri University of Science and Technology, 94% of the factors that affect a user’s first impression of a product, are design related. In fact, by 2020 UX Design will overtake price and product as the key differentiator in consumer decision. What’s the bottom line? UX is increasingly playing an important role as a market differentiator for emerging companies. To be a competitive player in the market, companies need to focus on creating a lasting experience around their product.

To succeed in the world of UX/UI Design, some background skills that help career changers and booster succeed are as follows.

  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork
  • Design thinking and a user-centric mindset

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