The demand for UX designers has risen recently, prompting many in complementary career fields like marketing to wonder, “Is a career in UX design for me?”
UX and UI designers (user experience and user interface designers) work to create an inclusive, immersive experience for visitors to a brand’s website or app. While UX and UI design roles do require some technical knowledge that marketers might not have, the soft skills needed to perform these jobs are similar. So similar that many marketers have successfully pivoted to successful UX/UI design careers.
Below, we’ll explore why marketers are upskilling for a career change to UX and UI design and how you can forge your own UX designer career path.
How is marketing related to UX design?
If you’re currently working in marketing, you may have noticed that it has a lot in common with UX design, like:
- Creating a user-centric experience: Both marketing and UX design work to carefully tailor experiences for the target audience.
- Conducting user research: In UX design as well as marketing, user research drives the work. Both fields conduct targeted user research to inform design and language decisions.
- Emphasis on messaging and communication: UX design, like marketing, needs a clear messaging direction to work effectively. While marketers may achieve that messaging through copy, UX design communicates through both copy and design choices.
- Mapping the customer journey: Both UX design and marketing work to lead a customer through a journey on the website, and both fields focus on moving customers through that journey in a way that increases their likelihood of converting to a signup, discovery call, or sale.
UX designers and marketers are also alike in using visual design to communicate an organization’s aesthetic. Marketing does this across all communication channels, while UX design focuses on the website or app experience.
Why move from marketing to become a UX/UI designer?
There is likely some truth in the assumption that, in general, UX design salaries are higher than marketing salaries. However, that generalization comes with many caveats like experience, job market, and job role. A senior UX designer is a coveted asset on a web design team, so it comes with a hefty price tag. But, depending on the local job market, a senior marketer could earn a similar salary.
Instead of salary, those who want to shift focus from marketing to UX and/or UI design are usually driven by a more altruistic reason: the intense focus on the user. They want to have a direct hand in the user’s experience of a website and play the leading role in ensuring that it meets the needs of the website visitor as well as the needs of the brand.
The recent emphasis on user accessibility has also encouraged many marketers to change course as they see a way to make a positive difference in users’ online experiences. Improving website designs to be easy to read and understand for all users isn’t just the right thing; it’s legally required, and many marketers want to help lead that charge.
What technical skills do UX designers need?
A UX designer is expected to understand a user’s intent and frame of mind as they visit and navigate a website so that they can plan an informed website design that converts visits to sales or signups.
To do that, UX designers conduct user research. Understanding how to elicit helpful information from user research is crucial to the role. UX designers know how to plan research questions, conduct interviews and usability tests, and interpret research into applicable changes to website design. User research is essential to UX design and can be a job role in its own right: the role of UX researcher.
A UX designer also understands information architecture: the ability to structure the information on a website so that it’s easy to navigate. And to drive the information architecture, the UX designer can conduct usability tests on websites to ensure the design is intuitive to navigate and users don’t get stuck or frustrated searching for the elements they want to find.
UX designers use specific software for prototyping their website layouts, like Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD. These allow them to create functional prototypes that show how users interact with the site and how design concepts look on screen.
And UX/UI designers must know how to design websites for accessibility standards. These ensure that all website users, including those with disabilities, can use a website with ease. Accessible website design is now a legal requirement, and it’s the best way to ensure that every client, potential customer, or casual website visitor has a respectful and enjoyable experience on a brand’s website.
Is a graphic design background necessary to be a UX/UI designer?
Visual design is vital to effective UI design, so successful UI designers should possess a working knowledge of graphic design. Understanding how graphic elements like shape and color can help your UX/UI career by enabling you to create more polished page layouts and prototypes.
But you don’t need to be a talented graphic artist to understand and employ visual design elements as a UX designer because UX design goes beyond just the graphics.
UX designers draw on user behavior research, usability testing, prototyping, and information architecture to create website designs that lead customers through a structured website journey. Graphic elements can play a part in that design, but they are not the whole story. Any graphic design experience needed to be a talented UX designer can be learned on the job.
Should I sign up for a UX or UI design course?
Even if you have a strong marketing background, earning a certificate in UX or UI design from a reputable online course is a good idea. For starters, you’ll likely need to learn some of the technical skills mentioned above. Plus, the endorsement of a respected UX design course will boost your resume. And a good UX course will give you work samples and experience as well as a certificate so potential employers can see real examples of your design skills.
I strongly recommend Learn UI Design from Erik Kennedy, a highly-regarded UI design online training course. It only opens for enrollment a few times per year. Still, with its emphasis on Figma and Sketch, its challenging homework assignments, and personalized feedback on projects, it’s worth waiting for. You can watch me demo Learn UI Design on Youtube here or sign up for the course here.
What should I do next?
Still trying to decide whether you should pivot from your marketing career to become a UX or UI designer? You have a few options:
- You can keep researching and googling without getting anywhere.
- You can take action by signing up for a course like Learn UI Design.
- You can talk to me about how I’ve helped hundreds of people start careers as UX designers and how you could be next.
Let’s talk about how you can leverage your marketing experience into a fulfilling UX design career with some retraining and rebranding. It all starts with a free 15-min call. Contact me today to schedule yours.