A brief look at the prevalent (and awesome) traits found in great user researchers and UX designers. I’ve met some pretty amazing research and design folks both on the job and at various conferences, and noticed some common traits that deserve recognition.
Here are the standout qualities that I’ve noticed of incredible user experience professionals:
1) Insatiably curious
Researchers, designers, and strategists seem to have a boundless appetite for learning. To stay sharp while navigating the latest shifts in technology and newest trends is a pretty big feat. The driving force behind their ability to stay ahead of the curve? Curiosity.
This is not an industry made up of sensitive crybabies. Nope, these guys and gals are strong in spirit and somehow muster up the courage on a daily basis to open their projects up for intense scrutiny and feedback. Hats off to you.
3) Lefties and righties
Using both sides of the brain to solve problems is a monster of a skill. UX folks have a keen ability to analyze a plethora of data and make informed recommendations or decisions that will impact the user experience. Their ability to approach problems both creatively and constructively requires a balance of brainpower and intuition.
User experience professionals often know the most about their company’s customers (and prospects) and how they respond to your product. This insight should be incorporated into every executive’s, salesperson’s and marketer’s frame-of-reference. Volusion conversion expert, Merritt Aho, documents all of his user research projects on an internal blog. What a great way to share the customer voice with the rest of the company!
Whether it’s design critiques or brainstorming sessions, user experience design is often a team effort. The ability to collaborate is an asset for any enterprise-scale company, where silos are often built, and inter-disciplinary teams must find ways to work together.
6) Great communicator
While great communication skills are a prerequisite for most positions, it especially rings true within the world of user experience. Researchers take every word into account when running a study, acknowledging that unclear tasks and questions can quickly muddy up their work. Good UX designers position their work and thought process in a way that becomes much more about the customer’s experience, and a lot less about what they "like and don’t like."
Things change. In the world of agile process and scrum teams, adaptation is the name of the game. Maintaining a level of flexibility and being prepared to make iterations is a quality that speaks volumes for the nimble work done by UX pros.
8) Micro and macro thinking
Examining (and creating) the subtle nuances of great digital experiences requires a lot of heads-down work. But that’s not all, folks! Having the ability to take a step back and guide executives on the voice of the customer is equally as important. Articulating the value of both form and function and how it relates to the product roadmap is a valuable UX skill.
Here's to you, UX pros.
There you have it - my (unsolicited) tribute to some of the coolest people I know. We’ve all heard about the Unicorn, and the truth is, as mystical as it sounds, it’s kind of true! People who possess all of the necessary skills to be in such a tech-savvy, creative, empathetic yet data-driven role, are pretty darn special. Oh, and sometimes they even code. :)
P.S. If you're a UX professional looking for a spectacular new job, make sure to check out the open positions here at UserTesting!
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Stef Miller is a former marketer at UserTesting, where she spent most of her time connecting people with content. Miller has worked for global corporations and teeny tiny studios, and believes that true happiness comes from collaborating with creative people to make awesome things happen.