Are you curious about user experience (UX) design? We reached out to Dylan Greif, an experienced UX design expert, to learn more about the growing field. Here’s what he had to say.

There are all kinds of designers. Fashion designers, game designers, graphic designers, balloon 🎈designers—even balloon emoji designers!

An important kind of designer in the tech world is a user experience (UX) designer. As a UX designer, I design websites, apps, and other—what we designers call—“products.” You interact with websites and apps every day—looking for directions on your phone, scrolling through social media, searching for answers to questions like “Why aren’t there flying cars yet?” Sometimes, you have a great experience. Sometimes, you have a frustrating one. UX designers are responsible for that.

Driver using a Tesla touch-screen panel from the driver’s seat

The above product is Tesla’s touch-screen panel. Here, we see the driver trying to activate the Child Lock function. The UX designer is responsible for enabling the driver to take that action using the touchscreen. The designer is also responsible for making the interface easy to use (and in this case, slick). Source: OCDetailing

One thing all kinds of designers have in common—whether they design costumes for dogs or labels for canned corn—is we are problem-solvers. We come up with solutions that help a person achieve a goal. Another thing designers have in common is we are creative. We create experiences to feel impactful, delightful or just plain smooth. Finally, we designers make things look good. Sometimes, even beautiful. 

In the world of UX, a website or app is not a great experience if it:

  • doesn’t help a person achieve their goal
  • is stressful to interact with
  • … is ugly

Got it? Good.

Why is UX design so important?

UX design is important in the tech world today. How important? As important as architects are to cities and towns. Could you imagine if buildings weren’t specially designed to serve different needs? Homes, hospitals, and high-school locker rooms would all look exactly the same. It would be a functional nightmare, and people would be bumping into each other left and right. 

Without designers, things would be bad.

What Are UX Designers?

Well, UX designers are like architects, but of digital space. Today, more than ever, people find community, content and services not only in the physical world (e.g. community centers, theaters, and shopping malls), they find it in digital spaces too (e.g. messaging apps, Netflix and Amazon). 

So, what makes a good UX designer? One who makes sure that when people move through any digital space, they discover what they’re looking for, accomplish just what they need, have a smooth journey, and aren’t bumping into talking heads in annoying pop-up ads.

Graphic Design vs. UX Design

An important quality of digital “products” is that they can encompass all kinds of media (e.g. audio, video, animations). They are also highly interactive (e.g. buttons, choose-your-own-adventure options, personalization). I’ll show you what I mean. Take the film “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Great movie! Now compare the movie poster to its Amazon Video product page. 

Movie banner for “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Movie poster for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Video product page for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” 

A different kind of designer, a graphic designer, created the poster. The poster was designed to be a beautiful and informative advertisement for the movie. And it is! But a UX designer did the video product page. It was designed to serve a few additional goals – to give you the options to read more about the film and cast, watch the trailer, actually pay for the movie, and even stream the movie right then and there. As you can see, UX designers are responsible not only for giving you information in a beautiful and informative way but also for designing what kind of interaction you have with the page, what variety of media you engage with, and what kind of services you receive then and there.

How Technology Affects UX Design

Finally, another quality of websites, apps, and products in general is that they are technology-driven. Here’s the catch… technology is rapidly changing. Every. Single. Day. As a result, UX designers have to constantly redesign the experiences people have—with their evolving needs and expectations in mind. That means constantly re-learning what kind of experience truly serves and engages people. We must empathize with a diversity of individuals, do plenty of research, and conduct a lot of experiments. UX designers are life-long learners and innovators. It’s what allows us to design products with a shot at helping people achieve their goals each and every day.

How can you become a great UX designer?

To be a UX designer, you must be trained in several areas. You must know how to research who needs the help and what they need help with. You must know how to brainstorm ideas for all the different ways a website, app, or product can look, interact, and provide a service. You must know how to create visuals and prototypes that, like an architectural model, bring that product to life. And, throughout the process, you must know how to collaborate with many other specialists on the team, including engineers, analysts, managers—and even the company’s top leaders.

Etsy employees jumping while wearing pink pants

When I was a UX designer at Etsy, I collaborated with all of these wonderful folks – engineers, project managers, marketers and video editors. One day, we decided to all come to work wearing pink pants just for the heck of it. It was a great day.

What Kind of UX Designer Are You?

You might be interested in some of these areas more than others. You might want it all—either way is cool! Some UX designers focus more on the research side of things. Some focus more on brainstorming. Some focus more on creating visuals and prototypes. Some collaborate so much with engineers, they even do a little coding themselves. Some collaborate so much with project managers, they manage some of the projects themselves. Some collaborate so much with company leaders, they become company leaders themselves. Some UX designers design for commerce companies, some design for journalism companies, some design for social media companies, and some for all of the above. In short, a UX designer’s job can be specific, or it can be general. It depends on the company you work for, and it depends on you. 

Merit America's UX Design program page

Merit America’s UX Design program can prepare you for a career in a variety of UX design-related roles.

Merit America’s UX Design programcan prepare you for a career in the field by teaching you entry-level skills, including: 

  • Understanding what makes existing products difficult to use
  • Exploring what can make people’s experiences great
  • Designing wireframes, mockups, and prototypes to bring those ideas to life. 

With these skills, you will be prepared to continue your journey as a generalist or a specialist in a variety of UX design-related roles, such as visual designer, interaction designer, UI designer, UX researcher, product designer, and more. Benefits of the field include high salaries, growth potential, flexibility, and engaging work. So, what are you waiting for? 

Apply now!