Rising demand for User Experience Designers: Candidates play catch up

Advanced Web Design

User Experience Design has traditionally been seen as something most Web Designers do.  It’s an essential aspect of designing any site, yet only 1% of our web designers specialise in the area despite a rise in demand for such candidates. With businesses continuing to increase their revenues through digital, User Interface is becoming more vital than ever. So why the shortfall?

Why is it so important?

Initially websites were thrown together to look pretty with not as much consideration taken for the user. However, it’s since become widely recognised just how essential the user experience is in terms of its commercial impact. The slightest change from the colour of a button down to the font can have a knock on effect upon sales and revenue, particularly in the online retail sphere.

We’ve seen a considerable rise in the number of requests for web designers specialising in User Experience or Interface, yet whilst many designers have experience of it, few are specialists.

Freelance UI designer Anita Chandra offers some insight as to why it is becoming so important “Basically I think it’s the case that advancements in technology such as things like iPhone apps have provoked people to realise that there is more branding space out there-not just about websites anymore so user experience is becoming increasingly important for the success of a product.”

So what makes a specialist?

 A pure User Experience Designer thinks about the psychology of the user, how designing simple things such as buttons in different sizes, colours and placement of copy and images will effect and improve the way the user, uses the site and how quickly it will lead to a purchase.

It’s now also about creating wire frames and planning before a site build, it’s about continuous monitoring of how users are navigating the site, what works, what doesn't and then making changes to improve the experience for the user.  Anita goes on to explain “You need to be aware of what motivates your target audience, research their previous behavioural patterns and of course get to grips with the tools used for things like tracking and how to map sites.”

Why aren’t people ready?

Digital is still such a young and constantly evolving industry that it’s almost impossible to stay on top, many organisations are only just starting to develop their online presence therefore the importance of the user experience is still a relatively new notion. However, as the demand for user interface candidates increases so will candidate skill sets.

What can you do to skill up?

If you’re new to the industry then there are courses available to study in subjects such as human interaction or psychology and many come with a design course attached. Or if you’re already  an established web designer and don’t fancy going back to the school find out if your company has a User Interface team and try to get involved. Better still, make suggestions to your managers and try to integrate it into your role and request training.

Photo (cc) Adrian Jiminez