In this article, I’m going to break down the personal characteristics seen in the best UX professionals. UX is a really diverse field. People come from a lot of different areas. However, I’ve worked with dozens and dozens of designers and there is definitely some patterns in the diversity.
So… why study successful UXers?
I often get asked how to get started in UX but few of those inquiries are followed by the more important question… what makes a good UX professional? Once you’ve identified a career path, whether that’s UX or any other field. It’s important to learn and model yourself after the best or at least the best you have access to. If you’re an entrepreneur, learn from successful entrepreneurs. If you’re a new parent, learn from good parents you know. It’s no different in design and especially when you’re starting out.
1. Curious – You’re curious… genuinely curious in people and things you come across.
You love learning about new things, learning and exploring new areas, and learning more about your areas of interests. Asking questions just for the sake of understanding at a deeper level. In addition to being very practical for a UX position, this personal trait leads to a breadth of knowledge that can really make you shine at work and just be an interesting person to be around.
You need to be curious to have a long career in design.
2. Detail-oriented – Attention to detail… no really, you actually pay attention and care about the details in your work and just about everything you do. It seems like 98% (probably exaggerated) of LinkedIn profiles and resumes list attention to detail as a skill… then there’s 12 typos and elements aren’t aligned. In design, being a little OCD isn’t really a bad thing.
3. Creative – Creativity manifests itself in different ways. Most people think artistic when I say creative but that’s not the only form of creativity useful in UX. If you’re able to arrive at unique solutions to problems consistently, you’ll probably have the stuff to be a great UX professional for the long haul. Being artistic is also a huge plus though, those skills will definitely shine.
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4. Observant – You’re probably a great listener and consistently aware of your surroundings. You listen to other people and aren’t looking at your phone when they’re talking. When you walk into a room, you notice the number of people there, the music, the decor, etc. You pick up on a patterns quickly. Skills like these will let you pick on details and get to a solution quicker.
5. Thick-skinned – As a designer, you’re going to get feedback… a lot of feedback. From your boss, coworkers, clients, customers, venders, friends, family… the list goes on and on. Some of the feedback is going to be constructive, garbage, and some might even be down right rude. Now don’t read this and go being a hard head that doesn’t listen to feedback. I don’t mean this in that way. You just need to be able to take it. The feedback is not personal. Don’t get attached to a particular design, it’s not art, and it’s probably not for you so don’t get too emotionally invested.
6. Empathetic – Design about serving others, your users in particular. A great designer needs to be empathic of the needs of those users. It’s really hard to get your personal preferences out of the way, but the best designers do so on every project.