I am studying web design but have decided to go in a UX Design direction.

Here are the skills I am working on:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • User Testing
  • Graphic Design
  • Creating mock-ups in the Adobe Suite
  • HCI

What else is necessary? I've been told to learn Lean UX. What is the best way to do that? Is a lot of programming knowledge preferred? I'm hoping some people working in the industry can shed some light on this.

  • 1
    What you are doing sounds rather UI-heavy. While UX is not a strictly defined position, you are missing almost all of the requirements engineering part in your list. I guess it is up to your employer how much of it you will need, but for me, it is certainly a big part of the job.
    – Rumi P.
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 10:21

6 Answers 6


To be a good User Experience Designer, you have to understand the customer, the user and the problem. The key is to solve the problem by the help of design. You have to understand the various aspects of User Experience design and find a niche and complement it with other skills. Broadly UX can be categorized into

User Research - This is one of the key part of UX, User research is done to understand your customer. Without user research, you may design the best looking website that works great but if no one wants it, then it is going to be a fail. User research can be done in many ways from observation,personal interviews, to user forms and surveys and also user personas. Each designer chooses to do the research in their own way based on the amount of data and access they have.

Content Strategy - One of the most important part of UX, it involves analyzing content, understanding what content users prefer in the given context and how much of it should be text or images etc. The key here is that it has to be useful and usable and consistent.

Information Architecture - Having useful and usable content is not enough if it is not presented in a meaningful way. IA deals with identifying organizing the content in a systematic way so that users can access it with ease and in a way that comes naturally to them.

Interaction Design - ID involves designing interactive behaviours, think actions and reactions and incorporate typical user behaviour. Specific focus must be given to use. Think, if you were in the real world, you could show someone that what they were doing are right or wrong but it's obscure online and hence ID is very important

Visual Design - A lot more than 'just making the website look pretty/cool' you have to understand the psychology of colours and visual appeal,the differences in terms of typography and overall purpose to build an aesthetically pleasing site to your end customers, an example is, you use significantly different colours and fonts for a education portal than for a halloween themed website. Considering aspects of occasion and purpose of use.

Usability and Analytics - Measuring the quality of user experience. Focusing on users and tasks and using metrics to understand what works and what doesn't to change by iterating.

You can either be a generalist and gather significant knowledge in each and every area or you can deep dive into one area at a granular level. You can also pick a few of the above based on your skill levels in each and interest and gain knowledge in other areas to complement your stronger areas.

Lean UX is basically understanding and utilizing agile methodologies to your UX work so that it provides better user experience, to gain more knowledge in the area you can read some books on lean ux, such as Lean UX by Jeff Golthef, Agile Experience Design by Lindsay Ratcliffe and Marc Mcneill.

Always keep learning!


A massive part of User Experience is understanding your customer. Know why a customer is coming to your site, what type of customer they are, and what they want to do.

Imagine you were in Car Sales. If you had a customer walk through the door... you knew what they wanted to spend, their specific wants, what is important to them, what wasn't, and how they wanted to chat to you - all before they even opened their mouth... you'd be a long way to getting a sale.

In UX and the digital world, if you can get this information, you're a long way to starting a great experience. Have a look at all the ways and methods in which you can get this information.

Look at formative testing, lab testing, MI, specific analytics etc. Graphic designers can help with the design, developers can help with making it robust.

Obviously different people want and need different things, but this is where personalisation and segmentation come into it... but that's maybe the next chapter :)

  • This is true, good point.
    – Rayraegah
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 21:13

Information analytic skills

Information analytic skills is a must have! You have be able to analyze the content and determine what information is 1st priority (what did the user came here to see or to do), 2nd priority (what must be available) and what is absolutely not important.

Graphic design skills

You need to have a great understanding of web graphics. What colors match/mismatch, how do backgrounds/borders/gradients increase and decrease readability, when you need to lower/higher contrast and brightness, how certain colors/shapes affect human emotions, how does spacing affect visual navigation between objects. There is just so much to learn about usability here!

Text writer skills

The use of right terminology can dramatically increase usability. And vice versa of course.

Programming knowledge

Programming knowledge is not required, but is certainly a plus. It helps to understand what is technically easy/hard/possible/impossible to implement. So when you are working with developers, you will speak the same language. Programming knowledge will also help you to understand how web technology works and what alternatives do you have when you disapprove something. Why does a page need to reload and when and how can you avoid reloads? How can user interact with the web (POST/GET, AJAX, keyboard/mouse events, etc)? This dropdown component forces the user to scroll too much, what other components can be used instead?

A "feeling"

If you want to really improve usability of software products, you need to go really deep in understanding why people dislike how something looks or works. You will need to be able to place yourself in the shoes of the end-user and drill down to the most elementary actions that cause irritations/misunderstanding/confusion. How easy is the information to find on the screen with the eyes? How many clicks are needed do something? How logical is the order of information/actions/menu items? How many (milli)seconds is user prepared to wait before he gets annoyed? How good does current result/followup action match with the expected one? Many designers call this all a "feeling". But this is just knowledge, understanding of human behavior when they're interacting with web or software.


What would you do if all options are bad? Invent ;)

  • Add research skills to the list and I think it will be almost complete.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Oct 27, 2013 at 11:43

User Experience is not related to design, Its a study related to research, understand the user, do analysis to understand your user's need. You are creating websites for users and not for you. So know your user well before start the design.

UX has a process to follow. Studying those process and adhere it on your project is important.

If the website does not meet the user's requirment / expectation then no use.

Also UX calculate the ROI of the website.

  • 1
    UX blends many disciplines. Design is absolutely one of them. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:44

I agree with a lot of the observations here. But I also think a UX designer needs to know certain processes and techniques to get down to the solution. Things like card sorting, customer journey mapping, usability testing, customer and stakeholder interview skills, competitive analysis, heuristic review are all part of the skill-set.

A UX designer needs to be an advocate for the user, but also needs to work within the constraints of a project timeline, budget, and business stakeholder concerns. Like a product owner, they need to be working with the business, the customer and development to ensure the best experience for the end user.

I've noticed that visual design is handled by a visual designer in a lot of organizations, not the UX designer. It certainly helps that the UX designer has a grasp of visual design, but it's not always a major skill-set requirement for some organizations. Other organizations try and pack as much into the UX role as possible, including everything that has been mentioned in this article plus CSS/HTML coding, which is really more of a UI front end developer role. It really depends on the organization and what you want to focus on. Some organizations want a catch-all UX designer, but that can spread thin and reduce focus since there are so many considerations and tools to be utilized besides by a UX designer outside of the visual design and coding responsibilities.


To me User Experience is about field-experience, common scene, communication, making it better, keeping it simple, and sometimes intuition as well. I am a hardcore programmer who has slayed many dragons before stepping into the User Experience field.

User Experience is not limited to just web design - it is universal.

As a UX Designer

I analyze the problem at hand from different scenarios and provide multiple (sometimes a lot) of options which lead to one concrete solution. Sometimes my solutions are not very creative, sometimes not "cool" but they are always and emphasis on "always" the right solution to every problem. At the end of the day its all about breaking down complex logic / workflows into the most simple, intuitive and appealing experience (because you want your users to return and enjoy their time with whatever you help build)

As a UX Researcher

I interact and communicate across different teams and end-users to help build better products. It encapsulates all the duties of a UX Designer and much more. I constantly iterate through my ideas help me help build better experiences. I also strive to provide solutions that transcend technology and help users understand what the product or app can do for them.

To be a better UX professional you need to understand the technology (well you don't have to code but knowing limitations and leveraging advantages is certainly helpful), understand timelines (deadlines), understand your team (their capabilities, pros and cons), understand the product / app (business logic, architecture, selling features, its future) and finally your end-users / targeted audience. You should be willing to constantly iterate and improve your own skills, the way you think (every problem is unique).

and in the words of Anton Ego,

Not everyone can become a great UX professional; but a great UX professional can come from anywhere.

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