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8 Questions People Ask When Learning UX Design

In this article

After teaching over 40 “Introduction to User Experience (UX)” classes for the digital school General Assembly (GA) in the last 2 years and interacting with more than a few hundred students, I noticed a pattern in the questions often asked by people learning UX Design. This list of frequently asked questions came from mainly 2 segments:

After teaching over 40 “Introduction to User Experience (UX)” classes for the digital school General Assembly (GA) in the last 2 years and interacting with more than a few hundred students, I noticed a pattern in the questions often asked by people learning UX Design. This list of frequently asked questions came from mainly 2 segments:

☑ Mid-career professionals or university graduates looking to make UX design a career.
☑ Business leaders trying to understand the practicalities of learning UX and justifying the value of UX in their organisation.

This article attempts to answer the common questions I get from my students.

For Career Switchers

Q1: What is the monthly salary of a UX designer in Singapore?

Depending on organisation size (MNC vs Startup) and relevancy of your previous work experience. A UX designer without people management responsibilities can earn between:

  • SGD$3000 to SGD$4500 for Junior UX Designers
  • SGD$5000 to SGD$7000 for Senior UX Designers (more than 3 years relevant experience)

in a month. (Source: Local Recruiters and Industry Professionals)

Q2: Why do companies advertise their job listings as ‘UX/UI Designer’?

There could be several reasons why this happen. It’s not an unusual practice for hiring managers to post a combined position to source for candidates who might have both skills so as to interview a larger pool of potential candidates.

From my observations, there is a lack of understanding of how the roles and responsibilities of a UX designer and UI designer are split in Singapore. This is partly due to the lack of design leadership in organisations and talent acquisition folks who are unaware of the differences.

Q3: Do I need to be a competent creative designer or an artist to be good at UX?

No. A handful of my best students do not use Photoshop but demonstrate:

  • critical analysis abilities
  • critical thinking abilities

They design with a pen and a notepad and ask great questions.

Q4: What can I do to become a UX designer?

The first thing to clarify is if you will enjoy doing what a UX designer does. This includes:

  • User Research
  • Wire-framing
  • Prototyping
  • Stakeholder Management & Education.

The best way to find out is through practice such as:

  1. Internship: Get an internship with a design team or a design leader who you respect
  2. Hackathons: Participate in hackathons (design sprint-like event) as a UX designer
  3. UX Course: Go through a practitioner-led education program (online now due to COVID) which builds your portfolio. This includes our 2 day UX Intensive Course / 4-month UX Career Accelerator
  4. Side Projects: Take on side projects with a team that is building a product/service outside of a full-time job

Q5: What is the difference between taking a degree vs a private course vs a short immersive workshop?

A. Degree Programs

Depth & Rigour
Masters programs in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) or Design degrees give you the most depth and rigour in the subject as you delve into research papers and theoretical textbooks over the semesters.

Long Duration
However, taking a degree does come with the opportunity cost of lost time of about 1 to 4 years.

They also tend to focus on teaching theory more than conducting practice relevant to the current day and age. And this teaching style results from the standard course syllabus most degrees follow, which often stays unchanged for many years despite the constant shifts in the UX job landscape.

Outdated Course Syllabus
The professors teaching the degree programs are also usually researchers rather than current industry practitioners. Hence, they might not always have the full updated information specific to the UX job landscape including what is considered valuable in the workplace and what is expected of a UX Designer in that particular time period of your graduation.

B. Private Course

Shorter Duration
Courses offered by private educational institutes such as bootcamps (between 4 to 12 weeks) or longer courses like our 4-month Career Accelerator cut the traditional UX education process by more than half.

Pursuing such courses are also more apt for working professionals looking to make a career switch especially if there are real projects with real clients. Such projects give students the closest feeling of what it’s like to work as a UX designer, which is the goal upon graduation.

Being able to take the course part-time also allows for more flexibility, which is especially essential for working professionals who have decided to make a career switch but have not yet quit their job to continue receiving their income.

C. Short Workshop

Shortest Duration
With all the key points of UX and design practice condensed into a few days instead of a few months, short immersive courses like our 2-day UX Intensive Course is a great stepping stone for individuals who have interest in UX, but are completely unaware on what a job in it entails or whether it is suited for them.

Good Introduction
Going for a lower commitment short course or workshop helps to drill down on the fundamentals to give a professional enough knowledge to start their journey in practicing UX design.

Insufficient for Career Transition Seekers
However, a short course alone is definitely insufficient for building a competitive portfolio to secure a UX role in today’s day and age. Hiring managers mostly look at fit, competence and portfolio, all of which is only briefly touched on in such short courses.

For Business Leaders:

Q6: How do I justify hiring/engaging a UX designer to the management?

It make sense to hire a full-time UX designer only when there is a product or service to build and/or grow.

Ideally your team should already be used to working in reiterative cycles at least on a monthly basis or faster. The business case to management would be cost savings and potential revenue increase.

Cost savings
You get to save big bucks spent on engaging a research firm, especially when your team works in quick cycles (1 to 2 weeks per sprint). This also helps your team to rely less on external agencies and on themselves and their own skills instead.

Potential revenue increase
This occurs from the insights being gathered which lead to actions that improve the business e.g. increase in average order value (AOV). UX playing a huge role in a company’s ROI is also evident in many formulas used to calculate ROI. The accuracy of such formulas has been proven through multiple companies’ case studies, where their increase in ROI resulting from successful UX was multifold.

Q7: How do I manage a UX designer when I don’t hav a background in design?

Follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Set goals on the key metrics that affect your business (e.g. Number of Leads, Conversion Rates, Closed Sales etc.)
  2. Be open to hearing how the UX designer plans to solve the problem through design.
  3. Measure performance based on metric improvement and insights.

Q8: What is the value of the management team having skills in UX design?

Your management team will gain 2 key skills which will transform your company for the better:

  1. Problem solving tools
  2. Greater empathy with customers

Customer-centricity could potentially permeate throughout the organisation and lead to implementation that inspire greater customer loyalty and/or address hidden needs of customers.

A process in UX Research called Customer Discovery, is the first step of product/service innovation.

After over a decade of being in this industry and teaching several students, I’ve come up with the best programs which would help mid-career professionals break into the UX industry as well as enterprises enable strategic design thinking and innovation through people and practices.

Click the buttons below to find out more about each course.