I am very new to UX and just trying to see whether I'm going to be a good fit to the field (obviously I'm going to find that out via hands on experience starting my internship next week). However if you could clarify some moments, that would really help)

So, I feel pretty comfortable with HTML, CSS and get my way around Wordpress as well. Generally speaking, it's not hard for me to learn new software BUT I've been looking for various UX vacancies to get a better idea of what this job actually includes and it seems like some companies expect from UX specialists not just the UX stuff, but also some extra bits, for example go beyond prototyping and create visuals or do more advanced coding. If that is the case than I'm not sure if that's how I want to spend my work days...

Could you tell from your experience how often managers ask UX designers to do things that maybe not exactly fall into their responsibilities?

  • 3
    The title of "UX Designer" isn't explicit in the same way as, say, "Java Developer" is, so there is a wide range of interpretations for what it actually means. Concentrate more on the job descriptions and candidate expectations as a guide to what is expected of you rather than just concentrating on the job title. Some UX Designer jobs will require extensive CSS and JavaScript expertise, some will want Photoshop expertise, some will just want wireframes. All depends on the company and their interpretation of the title. Search places like CWJobs.co.uk for UX Designer and compare what they offer.
    – JonW
    Oct 23, 2013 at 8:11

6 Answers 6


There are UX designers that can also create great icons. There are UX designers that can also write JavaScript. There are UX designers that can whip out SQL queries on demand.

And then there are UX designers that don't do any of that.

Point being, there is no one template for being a UX designer. Having a well-rounded set of extra skills is certainly a plus, but not a requirement.

  • 1
    Correct! For instance, I'm a UX Designer at work where I can create prototypes via code (where it got tested last week, good results!), but there are other UX Designers who are amazing with visual design (where I lack and where I hope to improve). Do what you love to do, and work on what you want to get better at.
    – UXerUIer
    Aug 17, 2015 at 17:08

You need to know enough in the technology you are designing for to be able to estimate the effort for developing each of the alternative designs you might consider.

As a UX designer, you are the person who negotiates with the users the way their interface will look like. The users will always push for what they imagine will fit their needs, plus eye candy. The developers will always push for a information structure and navigation which is as close to their OO class architecture as possible (or whatever technology is used in the background). You are the one who has to be aware of all the trade-offs. You have to know what happens when you concede a feature to the users. Does it mean one more line of source code, one more day of implementation, or does it require the whole planned architecture to be rearranged? Or do they simply want magic? If you knew how often I have heard from the user, "And one more small thing - this search we are talking about, it should of course be able to search in [three other unrelated systems] too, and display the result within our system".

You will have to deny features to the users, sometimes because they are a bad need fit, sometimes because implementing them is so hard it would break the budget. You have to be able to do this accurately, and also to explain the reasoning to the users. You have to come up with alternatives which address the needs as far as possible, while assuaging the users' largest fears and ensuring that they are technically feasible to implement. So, in order to be able to spot a good compromise, you need to be able to evaluate the costs of each alternative in terms of work the implementation team will have to invest. You don't have to be able to implement it yourself, but it sure helps having tried a few simple implementations in the target technology, to know the basics, so you can at least have the right feeling of the impact of each alternative under consideration.

And while we are at "tried a few simple implementations", don't fall into the trap of thinking that the effort needed to implement a feature in prototype-grade software is the same as the effort needed in production-grade software. There was an excellent post by Raymond Chen about what it would take to change a simple message shown by Windows, sadly I can't find it right now, maybe somebody can supply a link.

You might be able to do your work with less technology understanding, but this is the level you need to become a good UX designer.

  • 1
    This is a great answer. You don't really need to be able to code itself, but it's very useful to understand what is involved in the coding process, how long it takes to do X, what sort of feature would take significant development resource to achieve etc. That's certainly what happens for my role - I don't do any coding (not even HTML), but I understand it, know what is involved in producing the code for what I suggest, and I balance up that work effort against the impact to the user (and the budget!) to determine the best route to take.
    – JonW
    Oct 23, 2013 at 9:21

Pursue the activities that make you most happy (and successful). Then seek clients/employers that have needs best suited to your interests. Its a two-way street and you'll also want to look for support in areas you'd like to grow or improve.

For instance, someone with deep research background might do well with larger companies with many specialized roles, while a generalist might do well in the startup scene.

Good luck!


Of course, they would prefer you to be able to do all the (visual) design (research) work and be able to implement it pixel perfectly as well ;)

However, my experience so far in this field is that most UX'ers have one or two specializations (say: design and psychology, or computer science and design, etc.) and have broadened their horizons into the other fields. It definitely helps working with others, as UX is a multi-disciplinary field.

You might come across the term T-shaped Designer, which was brought to life a couple of years ago and constantly being discussed about. Below are a few articles/blogs that I found to be interesting reads (each with a slightly different perspective):





The technology you will need to master as a UI expert will depend on the types of interfaces you'll be working on. There are several main platforms, with varying requirements:

  1. Mobile /Tablets
  2. Desktop software
  3. Web apps and sites

Consider even deeper specializations... just within web design you could have:

  1. Transactional shopping
  2. Communities
  3. Web Applications

The requirements to be proficient and functionally conversant on the team will vary. Here's my recommendation, in order of value, assuming that you already have a strong understanding of the tools for design, wireframing, fonts, forms, flows and image optimization and not going into anything NON-Technical:

  1. html / dhtml and XML markup languages (including html 5 etc.)
  2. JavaScript (for animations / interactions and flow - you must at least know what's possible
  3. Understanding database Schemas and how your backend teammates will need things
  4. The essential rules of good (white hat) SEO
  5. Video Formats and how they are used for each platform
  6. Basics of PHP* ( we do a lot of work on LAMP platforms, you may not)
  7. Basics of C# / Objective C/ etc. (particularly for mobile platforms)
  8. Know the requirements of shopping cart platforms
  9. Know how the APIs of any integrations you're likely to use work (Facebook/Twitter)
  10. Get some JSON under your belt -know whats possible with dynamic pages etc.
  11. This will be controversial, so I put it last: FLASH is very much used for development of Mobile Apps, as it can now be recompiled to work with Apple devices, and indeed translates to all mobile platforms well.

There are collaborative tools also;

  1. Project management platforms like Basecamp and Assembla are popular
  2. GitHub is popular for collaborative Development
  3. Extra points for understanding how your team's IDE works and to help in degugging
  • Some useful points here. I've tidied up the formatting of your answer as it had unnecessary HTML breaks in there. Stack Exchange uses Markdown for question/answer text, so <br> are unnecessary. I've also removed your the closing line. As the HELP section states: "Do not use signature, taglines, or greetings.". It's a Q&A site, not a forum, so while we're grateful of good posts, there is no need to leave 'thanks', 'hope I helped' type messages. They should just go without saying, and just result in noise distracting from the post.
    – JonW
    Oct 23, 2013 at 8:07

My experience is that different companies will ask for different things, but to get a good idea, you can just browse through all the latest job postings of UX Designers.

In general, I think a UX Designer definitely needs to be able to perform user research or testing, and be able to turn those research into some sort of wireframe or prototype that others can understand -- whether he/she has more design or development skills depends on the company/team. If you have a very strong designer on the team, then you can rely on him/her to turn wireframes into high fidelity mockups, or if you have a very strong UI Developer on the team, you can rely on him/her to turn those wireframes into a functional prototype or skip the prototyping stage altogether.

As a general rule, because you don't know which company has what kind of team and what they want until you step into the interview (or at most times, until the first day of your job) it's good to be that "T" shape designer like Liang suggested.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.