The Ultimate 8-Skill Guide to Navigating Your UX Career

Get the most out of your product design career

It’s a bit shaky in the tech sector right now. We’ve heard big names like Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Twitter (we are supposed to call it X, right) are letting people go.

But remember, it’s mainly tech companies facing this issue, not every industry.

Besides tech, there are plenty of great job opportunities in agriculture, healthcare, finance, and government.

And guess what?

Government jobs often offer a better work-life balance and competitive pay. Working for MPI New Zealand on pet import services was one of the most rewarding projects I ever worked on in my design career.

I know government jobs might not be as sexy as working for Netflix.

But! I ask you, does the world need another streaming service provider? Or, does the world need an easier way to do taxes, renew a driving licence, get a social insurance/security number, or make the pet import service easy and stress-free for newcomers?

I vote for the latter. Shall I dare say it? These jobs are more meaningful, and you can make a bigger impact on people’s life as a designer.

If you ever lose your job, look beyond just the tech world. There are plenty of other companies with digital products & meaningful opportunities!

Knowledge of tools and good design skills are important. However, if you’d like to navigate and thrive in your UX/product design career, this 8-skill holistic guide is what you need.

1. Do self-development — Keep learning stuff

Continuous learning is the lifeblood of a thriving UX design career. Technology changes faster than a chameleon changes colours. As the tech landscape and user behaviours evolve, so must your skills and knowledge.

Invest time in attending workshops, reading books, or taking online courses. Regularly update yourself on the latest design trends, tools, and methodologies. By staying proactive in your self-development, you’ll be better equipped to address new career challenges and stand out among your peers.

When you’re in design, don’t be complacent with your knowledge. You should never be done with studying.

2. Show off your quirks, aka your personality

Being a UX designer isn’t just about technical expertise. It’s about building connections, understanding user needs, and fostering collaboration.

Let your personality shine in your work and interactions. Your unique perspective and approach can differentiate you from other designers. Remember, design is as much about communication as it is about colours and wireframes.

You’re unique. Let people see that fun, quirky side in your work and chats.

Be genuine. Be you.

If you don’t have a personality, get one!

Crafting your personal brand isn’t rocket science. If you need help, here’s my guide to get you started on your personal branding journey:

Click to read the article

3. Be that reliable buddy & be consistent with your work

Consistency breeds trust.

Whether meeting deadlines or maintaining a consistent design style in an app, being consistent showcases your reliability and professionalism. Your team and clients will value you even more as a team player by consistently producing quality work.

Be the person everyone can count on.

Deliver on promises.

4. Work hard, play hard, aka have a strong work ethic

Your work ethic reflects your commitment and dedication to your profession. Delivering high-quality work, showing up on time, meeting deadlines, and going the extra mile are hallmarks of a strong work ethic.

It helps you establish a good reputation and creates opportunities for growth and advancement in your career. Remember, in a collaborative environment, your work impacts others.

A strong work ethic ensures you’re a positive force in any team dynamic.

Put in the effort, do your best, but don’t forget to relax and have fun.

5. Be a kind human

Empathy is at the heart of UX design.

As a designer, your job is to understand and address user needs, feelings, and behaviours. But this empathy shouldn’t be limited to your users alone.

Be kind and considerate to your colleagues, clients, and stakeholders. Building positive relationships will foster a collaborative environment, leading to better design outcomes and a more fulfilling professional journey.

Be nice to people. Be compassionate.

Kindness is free. Trust me; it’s the one thing we designers don’t have to redesign.

6. Play well with others, aka collaborate actively

Designing alone? That’s so last season.

UX design is rarely a solo endeavour.

Teamwork makes the dream work. Always listen, chat, and share ideas. Collaborate with developers, product managers, marketers, and other stakeholders. Actively seek feedback and be open to suggestions.

Collaborative efforts lead to more comprehensive solutions and foster an environment of mutual respect.

Group brainstorming? Now, that’s the new black.

7. Keep your portfolio updated — Show off (but just a bit)

Keep your work pics (portfolio) fresh.

It’s like updating your profile picture but for jobs.

Your portfolio is a testament to your skills, creativity, and evolution as a UX designer. Regularly update it with your latest projects, showcasing not just the final product but also your thought process, challenges faced, and the solutions you crafted.

An up-to-date portfolio not only attracts potential employers or clients but also reflects your professional journey, helping you assess and improve.

8. Ride the wave, aka be adaptable

The tech and design worlds are ever-evolving.

What’s in trend today may be obsolete tomorrow. As a UX designer, adaptability is key.

Embrace change, be willing to unlearn and relearn, and stay agile in your approach. It ensures you remain relevant and ahead of the curve.

Stuff changes. Don’t fight it. Adapt and surf waves.

If you’re new to me, hello, my name is Niki. On the side, I write about product design & solopreneurship, and run a YouTube channel — check it out if you want to level up your design career.

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Is the UX profession right for you?