This may be a stupid question since I don't really know a lot about this field. I am currently involved in product development but I find UX to be a lot more interesting.

However I don't know how to design. I have no idea how to use software such as Photoshop etc.

Do I need to learn how to design in order to become a UX professional?

  • 2
    It certainly wouldn't hurt, but no, not every UX designer is a graphic designer.
    – DA01
    Nov 18, 2015 at 6:32
  • I dont think learning the softwares would present much of a problem. However i feel this is not something iam naturally skilled at,for example i tend to pick the worst color combinations. Most designers i know chose that field because it came very easily to them.
    – Sam
    Nov 18, 2015 at 6:49
  • 1
    you shouldn't need to, no. But half of the UX jobs out there are actually UI or even graphic design jobs so.... Nov 18, 2015 at 17:35
  • Related: How do you describe what you do? Nov 18, 2015 at 22:39
  • Graphic design is usually the entry point for UX activities in not so matured companies. If an UX team is already established, it has specialist roles. If a company starts UX, it seeks a generalist, who should has graphical practise.
    – FrankL
    Nov 19, 2015 at 9:54

2 Answers 2


You don't need every core competency

Our professional practice includes many core competencies. Nobody excels at them all.

Your strengths can be in two or three of these:

  • Information architecture — how things are organised, based on research, taxonomy, user needs, and so on.
  • Interaction design — based on patterns and standards, cognitive psychology, user research, and so on.
  • Usability analysis — Based on research, sometimes based on heuristics.
  • Graphic design — this isn't my strength, so … I have nothing to say.
  • Prototyping — everything from interactive wireframes to actual code, depending on your skill.

In fact, all of this depends on the rest of the team. You do what needs to be done, you learn what you need to learn. In larger companies, you'll be more specialised. In smaller companies, you'll have the opportunity to try lots of things. Be careful you don't just learn a few methods and then apply them to everything.

Did you notice that I didn't mention any software? It's not really about software, but understanding why and when to use it.

You can read more about core competencies in this UX Matters post. Their interpretation may differ from mine.

I hope that helps you move forward.

  • 1
    Thank a lot. That cleared up quite a few things for me. Much appreciated =)
    – Sam
    Nov 18, 2015 at 10:19
  • 1
    I agree with JeromeR - yet I think that the influence of graphic design on usability should be a point of interest. For example: Dark text on dark background will influence usability. What I want to say with this is: A usability engineer should maybe not be graphic designer, but at least should be able to judge the influence it has on usability.
    – Jan
    Nov 18, 2015 at 14:15

As the name suggests USER experience, your role is focused on the user. While designing skills are useful, they are not essential. What would be useful is to know how to perform various methods of research and analysis to understand the user and find user pain points and using problem solving skills to fix these problems. Not all the time is the solution a design based solution. For example a simple change of copy could make a big difference.

some methods of research

-usability testing. via observation. watching how the user uses your products

-user interviews

-quantitative analytics. using tools like google analytics or crazy egg

when it comes to designing. even rough sketching is sufficient for a ux person.

Your role is to find that balance between making the product meet the users goals and meeting various stakeholders expectations.

There are UX designers as well UX specialists and professionals. I know several ux specialists that don't come from a design background and don't know any designing software.

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