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I am a student of Software Engineering (mainly focusing on Requirements Engineering). I am a beginner in the field of UX. There already are a few questions on this forum regarding books etc. Still, I feel my question is a little different:

What qualifications are required to be a UX Professional/ Interaction Designer? What tools do you need to know? What can you do on your own to be proficient in this field? Because I don't have any formal training in this field and I can only learn things on my own.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by JonW Nov 18 '13 at 9:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

8 Answers 8

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The "qualifications" are an ability to talk the talk and get the jobs done. Read the material, learn the practices, and get on with it. The tools very much depend on the specific area you want to be involved in.

For example, some UX people are actually UI/graphic designers, and so know and use the image making tools. That is one way in, and a perfectly valid approach. Others (like me) are software developers, using .Net tools, javascript etc. That is also an appropriate route. It depends on where you real skills lie, and how you can extend them into UX.

I have had an involvement with it simply because I am doing a PhD in the subject, because I wanted to explore deeper into the topic. That might be a little OTT.

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Others have a psychological studies or social studies background, which I find to be the most interesting. –  Naoise Golden Jan 11 '12 at 16:15
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And there are abnormalities like me who come to UX by the means of marketing and lean product development. –  dnbrv Jan 11 '12 at 16:26
    
Yes - I wasn't meaning to limit it to just those routes - all I meant is that there are many routes to UX, and each route has a different emphasis. –  Schroedingers Cat Jan 11 '12 at 19:28
    
Thanks @SchroedingersCat and rest : I am currently reading Designing Interfaces and Interaction Design books, hope that's a good start. Can you please tell me some tools pref. free for learning prototyping / wireframes. TIA. –  carora3 Jan 11 '12 at 22:29
    
Also read some of the UI classicas like Norman and Krug - in fact, if you can "get" Krug, that is a good basis for any UX person. Tools - the problem is that most tools that indicate expertise are expensive. As that is not my expertise, I will let others comment on what might work. –  Schroedingers Cat Jan 12 '12 at 10:47

Basic qualifications required from my own research :

  • Have experience in user centered design approach.
  • Have a degree in the field of HCI, Software engi, web/graphic or related design and a strong online portfolio.
  • You having some focus on requirements can show your user research skill
  • Liaising with product managers and other stakeholders to gain an understanding of client needs
  • Fluency in the UX design process plus usability and accessibility best practices.
  • Excellent written and presentation skills.
  • WIREFRAMES – The heart of this role. Based on research and requirements you will create wireframes to illustrate and advance the design. You will have complete flexibility over which tool you use, be it OmniGraffle, Visio, Axure or beyond. Whatever your tool of choice you will be able to quickly iterate changes, and finally deliver annotated wireframes and functional specifications to the team for design and development.
  • PROTOTYPES – Rapid prototyping allows us to put a ‘working’ site in front of users and stakeholders and gather feedback based on something approaching the final product. Ideally you will be able to create prototypes of varying levels of fidelity from paper prototypes to HTML pages.

Moreover the recruiters see if you have the interest and enthusiasm towards UX and usability testings.

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That covers most, but not all, roles. –  PhillipW Jan 11 '12 at 22:29
    
Yup UX is so diverse that anyone with the right passion can shine !! These are the top things that are seen in the interview for recruiting in UX field. –  Pratheep ch Jan 12 '12 at 0:35
    
All of which look good, but putting 5 years of designing and building websites for clients is also good. –  Schroedingers Cat Jan 12 '12 at 10:49
    
@SchroedingersCat: Yup I do accept it , this looked like a entry-level question !! –  Pratheep ch Jan 12 '12 at 14:46
    
@Pratheepch. From the side of having interviewed people for positions, it is clear when someone has got the things they need for the interview, and when they have actually got the experience. I think you are completly right, but also having some real life examples ( even if they are spare time examples ) showing your skills is a winner. IME. –  Schroedingers Cat Jan 12 '12 at 15:34

I have jumped from field to field within the online design field and I would recommend reading material from authors generally regarded as field experts.

Some useful books for you:

  • Don't make me think (Steve Krug)
  • Rocket Surgery Made Easy (also Steve Krug)
  • Undercover User Experience Design (nice for beginners)
  • Web Form Design, Filling in the blanks (Luke Wroblewski)

I would also recommend the following blogs:

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Hi Paul, thanks for posting an answer! I cleaned it up for you a bit. –  Rahul Jan 12 '12 at 20:10

People, people, people. Never forget you are designing these things for people. For UX as opposed to Interaction Design. The most important thing is to want to and try to understand people. Be ready to try and understand their motives and their needs (not yours overlaid on theirs). When the user talks listen to what they are actually saying, and be ready to change your mind and be proved wrong.

Experience can get you a long way, the more people you interview/watch/study, the more you will learn that people are the same, but very different. Learn a combination of qualitative and quantitative skills. Get comfortable with talking to random people in the street, it will help you be a better UX'er.

Try cafe testing, buy some chocolate bars and ask people to carry out tasks on your laptop. Test websites that are not yours, test what you like and what you don't like, don't bias them while testing and listen.

That, for me means wireframes are not the key delivery for UX, it is understanding and documenting the users tasks and how it can be satisfied by your interfaces (that may well be wireframes)

For interaction design I would agree wireframes (and prototypes, if you code) are the key delivery.

Yeah, learn all the tools, Balsamiq, Axure, photoshop, find a favourite but don't become exclusive as it is only a tool to complete the task you want. Get comfortable in using paper, so you can pick the right tool for the job.

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Aside from the core skills of design/software, learn the human aspect of UX. What motivates people, what instills trust, how people feel, these are all critical things whether developing an e-commerce, search engine, or corporate presence site.

That, and make sure your interpersonal skills with clients are fluid and polished.

Always speak from a standpoint of knowledge and best practice, rather than "what you think would be best".

Never take anything face value. Meet a client who says they have a great site? Ask for metrics, and look for patterns in usage yourself.

Don't be afraid to break the mold, and continually ask "why".

Enjoy.

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Just throwing my two-penneth in from a front-end developer's point-of-view. Please learn (or at least have a decent understanding of) front-end technologies/practice (HTML, CSS, Javascript, accessibility, browser quirks etc). You don't necessarily have to become a whizz with the code side of things, but I've worked with Experience Architects in the past who had zero understanding of how their wireframes/designs would have to be built which has lead to some difficult situations when the front-end team have had to push back on things which weren't possible/practical, and the EA simply didn't understand why.

If you are able to create your concepts with some appreciation of the capabilities/limitations of the code, you'll definitely have an advantage.

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YES YES YES! Just as an architect should understand how a building is built, a UX designer needs to understand how UIs are built. –  DA01 Jan 12 '12 at 20:21
    
Totally Agree !! –  Pratheep ch Jan 13 '12 at 21:21

You need:

  • to know how good web sites are designed and built
  • to know people that can hook you up with a gig

Yes, that answer is a tad flippant, but it's fairly accurate. UX folks are often just people with experience building web sites who have decided to (or accidentally became) generalists. Many refer to these types as T-shape skill sets...they maybe know a lot about a few key areas but definitely know 'enough' about most areas where they can be good at communicating solutions amongst all the roles on the team.

After that, the skills come with experience and research: how to do user testing, how to do research, how to sell ideas to management, etc.

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I am sorry but Wireframes and Prototypes do not make a good UX designer.They are the tools to test different approaches, but they will not do the job of conceptualising the user experience. This is what lies at the heart of UX design.

Someone mentioned CSS. Expertise in writing CSS nor HTML5 is not required so much as experience in using such technologies.

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This is more general commentary than an answer to the questions that were originally asked. I would recommend reading the following help page and reformulate an answer. ux.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer –  ChrisK Nov 16 '13 at 13:40

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