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UX 101. What is UX?

UX is very popular. It is getting even more popular to this day. Understandably, there's a lot to be said and maybe even more to be asked. I can imagine that it might be a bit overwhelming at this point. Do you want to become a designer, or transition from UI to UX?
UX 101. What is UX?

No matter the case, this post will provide you with everything there is you need to know on the subject. It will help you get started by understanding the basics.

Table of Contents

What does UX stand for?

UX stands for user experience. It is a very broad discipline with the world of design. Professionals within the UX discipline are most commonly called UX designers. They focus on user centric design.

What does a UX designer do?

The role of a UX designer can be very broad. Depending on the type and size of the project, your work can include doing research, setting design requirements, visual design and many more. This is a good thing, since you will be able to either do very diverse work, or be able to choose the type of specific UX work that is right for you.

As a UX designer, you will be working with the design thinking method. It is an iterative way of performing your work. Design thinking consists of a few repeating steps.  These include a research step where you get familiar with the users, their problems and needs. After that you will do a concepting step where you will brainstorm and design multiple ideas. The ideas you have designed need to be tested. You do this by performing user tests. These steps will repeat itself until you have provided your stakeholders with the requirements you’ve agreed upon.

Frequently asked questions

There’s a lot to be said about UX. We’re discussing some of the most frequently asked UX questions here. Take a look!

Do UI and UX designers need to code?

One of the most common questions from the field of UX is about programming. Do UI and UX designers need to code? Here’s your answer.

No, you do not have to code. You can learn to code to learn another skill and it helps in understanding technical requirements you might face, but you are not required to do so.

Can UX designers work from home?

Yes. As a designer you can work from home. The only thing you need is a laptop and your tools. You can even do remote research. Since the COVID-19 crisis, doing your research remotely has seen a big rise in popularity. We’ve written a post recently where we take a look at how UX designers can work from home.

How much do UX designers make?

UX design salaries depend on your location, experience, and the type of company you’re going to work for. We’ve made an overview of how much UX designers can make and the factors that influence it.

Why is UX so important?

UX is important. Designers know this. Yet, not everybody else does. It is still very difficult to convince some of your stakeholders of the importance of UX. Some say design is subjective. You either like it or you don’t.

Luckily, we know better. UX can greatly help in achieving business goals. Happy users equal more revenue. Read our post on why UX is important to find out how to convince your stakeholders of the added value of UX.

How do I become a UX designer?

To become a designer, you will need to have some sort of theoretical understanding of what design is. In addition to that, you need to develop the tools and methods of design.

Luckily, there are many ways of learning design. These include courses, formal education, conferences and free resources. We have a full post on how to become a UX designer as well, including frequently asked questions, steps you need to take, and free career advice.

You can start by reading articles from the Nielsen Norman Group. They are leaders in the field of design and usability. Their website provides a great number of free articles you can read.

Can you be a UX designer without a degree?

Yes. You can be a UX designer without a degree. Most companies value your skills and experience more than the degrees you have. If you work hard, develop your skills and your network you can get a job without a degree.

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to get one. Having a degree can help you secure a (better) job more easily. This and more can help you decide whether or not you want to go for a degree in UX.

Check out our more detailed answer on the question if you can be a UX designer without a degree here.

What are some good books and courses on UX?

An alternative to UX bootcamps that is a lot cheaper is reading UX books or following UX design courses. They will help you get a better (theorethical) understanding of UX. We’ve made a post on UX books that you can read.

History of UX

User experience has been around for a long time. Actually, it has been around forever. The only thing that has changed is the fact that UX has become a job title after Don Norman coined the term UX in the 1990s. Before and since that moment, UX has had a great eventful history.

You can read all about the history of UX in our post on the topic.

How UX fits into Agile and Scrum

At first glance, UX and the Agile or Scrum way of working seem very different. The entire process of design thinking that is common in UX needs to be completed in one Scrum sprint most of the time. The stress and possible rush of events clashes with UX.

Not to worry. UX and Scrum have a lot in common as well. Read the Ultimate Scrum Guide for UX designers for tips, tricks, and more on combining Scrum with UX.

UX vs UI. What is the difference?

There is some confusion regarding the difference between UX and UI. It is understandable if many companies are looking for something called a UI/UX designer. In other cases someone who’s a UX designer on paper is actually a UI designer when you take a look at what he actually does.

Is there a difference? Yes, there is! We wrote about it in our post called UX vs UI. What is the difference. Go check it out!

Next steps

Now that you have a basic understanding of what UX is and what it does we can image that you’re ready to take the next step on your journey. This next step is actually becoming a UX designer by creating your cover letter, case studies, a portfolio, and more.

Nick Groeneveld

About the author

Nick Groeneveld is a designer from the Netherlands with over 5 years of UX, visual design, and consultancy experience. He has worked in many different industries, including retail, finance, and sports.

Take a look at Nick’s LinkedIn and Medium for more.

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