How to spot a great user experience designer

Fred Beecher from Evantage Consulting recently wrote about the 9 characteristics of good UX designers. It's a great list...even if #9 is a bit corny and predictable.

How many of the 9 characteristics do you (or your UX designers) have?

#1: A Deep Understanding of Human Psychology & Research Methods
  • If you don’t understand people, you won’t be a good UX designer.
  • You must be able to see things from another person’s perspective.
  • You must also be familiar with psychological research methods designed to elicit and elucidate people’s perspectives.
#2: Competence in the Basics of Graphic Design
  • You don’t have to be a graphic designer to be a UX designer
  • You do need to be competent in the most basic of basic graphic design principles: layout, color, and typography.
  • You need to know how to use colour to draw the user’s attention to important user interface (UI) elements (you also need to know how not to draw attention to unimportant elements).
#3: An Awareness of and Interest in Technology
  • You should be able to understand technology well enough to communicate with developers (but you don’t need to be a coder)
#4: Verbal & Visual Communication Skills
  • You must be able to clearly communicate your ideas and research findings.
  • You must be able to verbally describe everything from squishy user motivations to rigid, detailed sequences of events.
  • You need to be able to supplement verbal communication with visuals. You don’t need to be an artist but you do need to be able to sketch your ideas on a whiteboard and create clean, clear prototypes and wireframes.
#5: Moderate Familiarity with Business, Deep Familiarity with Your Business
  • You need to understand the basics of how the business world works in order to effectively elicit and understand business goals.
  • You do need to be very familiar with what your particular company or client finds valuable, though.
  • On top of that, you need to be familiar with why your customers find your products or services valuable. To do that, you need to deeply understand the context in which they work.
#6: The Ability to Quickly Learn a Subject Matter Area
  • UX designers, whether corporate or consultants, are thrown into situations that they must understand from multiple perspectives. And quickly!
  • Key to this is the ability to quickly master a subject matter area. This allows you to generate useful insights from user research and uncover hidden business goals by asking the right questions. This deep knowledge of context guides your design and allows you to make effective design decisions.
#7: Mediation, Facilitation, & Translation Skills
  • Mediation, facilitation, & translation skills are necessary to ensure that everyone’s perspective is accounted for. While user goals can be uncovered through empathetic, open-minded research, business goals are often much harder. Different departments or business units often have different or even conflicting goals.
#8: Creativity & Vision
  • You need creativity and vision to take all of the above and mold it into a system that helps a business achieve its goals by making it easy and enjoyable for its users and customers to achieve theirs.
#9: Passion
  • Passionate UX designers constantly watch people do what they do and analyze why.
  • If a passion for UX is all you have, that’s a good place to start. That passion will drive you to cultivate the rest and success will soon follow.
Do you think Fred has missed anything? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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