The qualities of a good 2023 UX designer

There’s a lot of competition among UX designers. To stand out and advance your career, you need to build the traits and qualities of a good UX designer. Here’s how you can do that as a modern designer in 2023.

The qualities of a good UX designer

I’ve worked with dozens of designers on projects or as a UX mentor. Some of them had qualities that made them stand out. I remember them to this day and would recommend them to anyone looking for a designer today.

This article will discuss those qualities and how they made them great UX designers.

If you can develop those qualities and traits, you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting a job in UX. Let’s start with an overview.

Table of Contents

Qualities and traits of good UX designers

Good UX designers have a set of qualities and traits ranging from soft and hard skills to some personal skills. Together, it can make them stand out. Most good UX designers have the following qualities.

  • Good listener
  • Business skills
  • Basic understanding of programming languages
  • Experience with an Agile way of working
  • Knowledge of design theory

Let’s take a closer look at each of these qualities.

Good listener

Good UX designers are great at listening to their stakeholders and their users. Talk less and listen more is a famous saying that applies to UX designers.

By the way, when I say that you have to listen to stakeholders, that doesn’t mean you have to follow every order. Instead, listen to what they’re saying so that you start to understand their goals. Once you understand those, you can formulate your design pitch in a way that speaks to your stakeholders.

Your stakeholders are the ones that ultimately have to give you the green light for your design. Understanding what they want increases your success rate a lot.

The same goes for listening to your users. Whenever you’re doing a user interview, ask open questions and listen to what your users have to say. Good UX designers have the skills to remain quiet and listen to their users instead of steering them toward a specific answer.

Business skills

This is perhaps one of the most important qualities of a good UX designer. You have to understand how a company works. To do that, you need business skills.

Where most designers focus solely on the user, a great UX designer has the qualities to help his employer move forward. He does so without forgetting the user, of course. The business skills of a good UX designer include the following.

  • Excellent presenting skills.
  • Understanding the role of UX within a business environment.
  • Stakeholder management.

Each of the skills mentioned above requires experience and strong soft skills. You’ll need to be able to say ‘no’ and know what battles to choose.

In my experience, this can take years of practice before you’re proficient. Therefore, these are qualities for senior-level UX designers to stand out. In this regard, entry-level designers can take their time to grow into good UX designers.

Basic understanding of programming languages

Good UX designers have a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, and JS. In case you’re working on mobile apps, understanding how iOS and Android apps are built also helps.

UX designers and programming languages

No, you don’t need to code as a UI and UX designer. That’s another question I get a lot from entry-level designers. However, it is helpful if you know at least the basics. It’ll make your discussions with developers a lot easier. And given that you’ll have those talks a lot, it is also a great time saver for both of you.

Agile way of working

Almost every project you’ll do as a UX designer involves some kind of Agile way of working. It’s just how software development is done at most large companies. Popular Agile frameworks include Scrum and Kanban.

Recurring Scrum events like sprint reviews, daily standup meetings, or retrospectives are part of a UX designer’s weekly calendar. Now, whether that’s a good thing or not is a different story.

Anyway, if you know how Scrum works, you can check that requirement from many job openings. Knowing about Agile is step one. It would be even better if you have experience in one or two Agile projects. If you have, that’s yet another way for you to stand out.

Design theory

At its core, a good designer needs to have a solid understanding of design theory. I’m talking about gestalt principles, typography, using grids, and many more. Great UX professionals are strong UI designers.

If you want to learn about design theory, you can follow courses on UI for your hard skills, talk to a UX mentor, or read books from our UX books reading list. With the growing popularity of AI tools, this is also a design trend that can help you become a better designer.

Summary

If you want to stand out as a UX designer in 2023, you have to be able to do a design project well. That requires certain skills and qualities. Here’s what they are.

  • Listen to your stakeholders and users to discover what their goals are. Use that knowledge accordingly.
  • Good designers know UX is about business skills as much as user-centric skills. You’re hired to help the business first.
  • As a UX designer, you will likely work with software developers. Understanding what they’re working on makes your meetings with them much easier.
  • You’re also likely to work in an Agile environment. Learn about that way of working and popular frameworks like Scrum and Kanban.
  • And finally, at its core, you have to know your hard design skills, like typography, gestalt principles, and how to use a UI grid.
Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm , a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at my LinkedIn and Medium for more.