Ears, eyes, hands and brain! All that a UX might need.

There are a few skills that will help a junior UX designer grow. This is not a definite list, and you should add to it as you develop your career. In time you will find things that you are good at, or better than most of your colleagues. Invest time in these skills. Hone them. Have a look at my list now and see where you could improve. If there is anything that stands out, invest time in it. It will be worth it — trust me.

Skills that every UX designer needs

Active listening

Talk less, listen, and ask questions when something isn’t clear. Draw conclusions from answers and observations. This will help you a lot when conducting research.

Identifying facts

Instead of speaking from your gut, focus on facts. In the heat of the moment, when you get excited about a piece of work, emotions might take over and distort your view. For example, you might design an interface and keep defending it because it’s your work. Even in the light of facts that’d tell you it wouldn’t work too well. Keep an open mind.

Visualisation skills

Take a piece of paper and a marker (something with a thick tip, like a Sharpie). Think of an interface that allows the user to log in to their account. Now, draw it — using your imagination, without external inspiration of a web browser. Then, visualise a bigger piece (for example, an entire account view). While you are at it, focus on user’s convenience, and not on things you want to show as a skilled interface designer. Learning how to translate your ideas into screens will help you communicate with stakeholders.

Writing

In an engaging and clear fashion. I know that this is hard. Learning how to write will help you later. As a UX designer, you will be writing proposals, reports from testing and many other documents. You will need to know how to craft a good invitation to a focus group. You will be often asked to write a blog article. When you write, learn how to use a word processor and use it. A pro-tip: writing is easier when you have a good vocabulary, so read a lot, and not only UX books but prose, too.

Filtering and verification of information

The internet is full of useful resources — maybe even too full at times. You will need to find your way in it to learn things you really need and discard those  you don’t. Ask your colleagues what has worked well for them and what hasn’t. Subscribe to a good newsletter or two. Don’t worry if you read something and it doesn’t stick. It’ll come back later. What matters is that you can try it and verify whether it worked for you — fixate on this.

Where are the tools?

As you may have noticed, this list doesn’t say much about tools. That’s because it’s relatively easy to learn them. Start from the ground up and practice skills that will always apply to your work. Even if a new player comes to the market to wipe out Sketch and Figma, and we all rush to use it. Basics will be basics, always.

Building a solid foundation for your skills will take you further, guaranteed.

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