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November 2019
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User Experience (UX) Design is an intriguing field. As it’s called UX “Design,” it is easy to assume that only design people who have a traditional design or arts background may join this field. However, in the real world, I saw many talented UX designers coming from various backgrounds, including business, engineering, psychology, and even history.

The scope of UX design itself is broad, encompassing but not limited to software UX, hardware UX, and service UX. Therefore, this field requires professionals to not only have hard technical skills but also a myriad of soft skills. What this means is that a UX designer is perhaps, the professional who is both a specialist and a generalist.

In my previous article, I discussed “what is a UX designer?” to help readers better understand what UX design is. Find the article here: What the heck is a UX designer?

For this article, I would like to invite you to conduct a 3 min self-diagnosis test, which will give you an evaluation of your personal qualities and how they match the qualities needed to become a competent UX designer. After the test, I will go through each characteristic/quality and we will debrief the results together.

Answer each question individually and give a score corresponding to your answer:

2 points: disagree

3 points: agree

4 points: strongly agree

  • I have no difficulty in explaining to others what I know.
  • I easily become sentimental every time I hear or see a sad story.
  • I find it easy to see from other people’s point of view.
  • My close friends often tell me about their problems.
  • I quickly identify the motivation/authenticity of others.
  • When problems arise in real life, the cause is more important than the consequences.
  • More than an hour of research is a must when buying or working on something.
  • Whatever I do, it is important to know how to do it in the most efficient way.
  • I easily come up with ideas or insights from any type of data.
  • When something difficult or unexpected happens, I tend to solve it sooner than others.
  • I have always wanted to be an early adopter of the latest products.
  • I easily detect changes around me including people, culture, trends, etc.
  • It would be very interesting to hear we will be living with robots in the near future.
  • I easily become bored in mundane life and try to make changes.
  • I quickly understand and become a part of new/foreign cultures or systems.
  • It is much better to work with others than alone.
  • I do not have many difficulties in convincing people to follow my opinions.
  • If I do not know something, I am willing to ask for help from someone I do not know.
  • I can get along with new people easily.
  • Even if your friend or co-worker is in a bad mood, you can make them feel better quickly through conversation.
  • There are some products that I use only because of the aesthetics of its design, not the function.
  • I have my dream outfit that I’ve always wanted to wear someday.
  • When choosing a notepad, its cover and color are more important than the price.
  • I am sensitive to color matching and color changes.
  • I can’t bear any elements that break systematic alignment.

If you score more than 70 points on this test, you may already have the qualities that make you more amenable to the field of UX design. But don’t be discouraged if you score less than 70. Your passion, aspiration, and goals are more important than such qualities, I promise. There are five qualities this self-diagnosis test evaluates:

– Empathetic

– Analytical

– Adaptable

– Collaborative

– Design Sensitive

Section A corresponds to your ability to be empathetic. As the term, User Experience, suggests, being fully empathetic to users is a must for designers. Even if you have completely different characteristics from those of the core users, it is important that you try your very best to put yourself into the users’ shoes and fully empathize with them. If you’re a person who’s always taking care of what’s going on around you, or listening to others, then such qualities will be valuable when you work as a UX designer.

Section B corresponds to your ability to be analytical. It is the ability that pushes you to actively go out to find the root causes of the problems and come up with practical design solutions, a.k.a. problem-solving skill. It is important to take initiative, look at data, consider market situations, and listen to diverse perspectives. Such ability to be able to embrace all components — user problems, market situation, technical feasibility — into design solutions will be a huge plus as a UX designer.

Section C corresponds to your ability to be adaptive. The field of UX design is fast-paced, no doubt. Over the last two years, as soon as I entered this field, I’ve learned more than 10 new tools, which never happened in my previous professional life. Additionally, the market is moving very quickly. As new technology and ideas come out on a daily basis in a variety of forms, as a UX designer, it is important to keep an eye on how they should be shown to users, so that users can actually use them. Therefore, the ability to adapt to situations quickly and stay enthusiastic about learning new things can be an integral part of the qualities that a UX designer might have.

Section D corresponds to your ability to be collaborative. In order to be collaborative, communication is key. As previously mentioned in my other article, UX design is a profession that requires a lot of face-to-face interaction with a variety of people. You often need to work with your team, have numerous back-to-back meetings with stakeholders, defend your design and convince people to follow your design decision if needed. Therefore, if you enjoy working as a team and love active interaction with people, it should be a great plus to become a UX designer.

The last section corresponds to your ability to have a good eye for design. Although many UX designers do not come from a traditional design background, many of the people who are successful in UX design overall have a good aesthetic or design sense. In my case, even if I came from a non-design background, I was often told that I have a good design sense. As a UX designer, the job definitely involves actual design and its process, so if you have a good eye for design in general, and are a person who is design sensitive, I believe that is also a good quality to become a competent UX designer.

While writing this article, I interviewed several designers, and had them take this test: I found that most designers are strong in two or three of the above-mentioned qualities, while they are generally comfortable in most of them. Through this article, I hope that you had a chance to learn about 1) qualities that are important to a UX designer, and 2) how your personal qualities fit in this arena, so you can find your greatest strength as a UX designer.

For the next article, I would like to write about how a person from/with a non-design background can become a UX designer, even without knowing what a portfolio is. As always, stay tuned!


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