It is now essential for businesses to provide a seamless customer experience. With more organisations moving online, and growing demand for digital products such as entertainment, usability professionals are increasingly in demand. Here is a quick guide to the main roles in the usability industry, and what you will need to get one.
User Experience (UX)
What is it? The idea of UX is to create a product and/or service that perfectly meets the needs of the customer. For example, if the customer is trying to purchase a product through a website, a positive user experience means that they can find the product easily (i.e., with categories and filters), quickly add the item to their cart and complete the checkout process without barriers. In this role, you will solve issues such as cart abandonment. According to the Baymard Institute, 68% of shoppers abandon their carts before checkout. Poor UX, such as forcing the user to create an account, additional costs at checkout, slow delivery and security concerns, is a major contributing factor to this problem.
What will you be doing? UX is a varied role. You could be involved in anything from designing a new software application to creating an optimal hotel experience. On a day-to-day basis, you will be involved in tasks such as user research, testing, project management, creating user personas, wireframing and prototyping. In larger organisations, UX is often split into research and design orientated roles.
What will you need? A degree in a field such as Human-computer interaction, Cognitive science, Statistics, Psychology or a related field will make you a competitive applicant. However, a degree is far from essential. There are several comprehensive non-university courses, such as the Career Foundary UX Design Program, the Interaction Design Foundation Course and the Nielsen Norman Group’s UX Certification, that are highly respected in the industry.
User Interface (UI)
What is it? UI is usually considered a subset within UX. In this role, your goal is to create a user interface that is pleasant, easy to use and — most importantly — facilitates the business needs. For example, UI designers frequently use colour to create intuitive icons. Red is associated with negative actions, and it is therefore useful to colour ‘remove from basket’ and ‘error’ icons in red. In contrast, green is associated with positive actions, so it is useful to make ‘submit’ and ‘add to basket’ icons green to encourage clicks.
What will you be doing? The role focuses on the visual design aspects of the website, such as imagery, colour scheme, typography and icons. In addition, while UX can refer to any product and/or service, UI professionals exclusively work on websites.
What will you need? A degree in design or a related creative discipline will be enormously helpful but, as above, there are numerous alternative UI courses. In addition, it is highly likely you will need expertise in multiple software applications such as Photoshop, Sketch, Illustrator and InVision.
Customer Experience (CX)
What is it? CX refers to the overall experience a customer has with a brand, not just with the product. For example, how easy is it to contact customer support, how enjoyable is the marketing campaign and how does the brand come across on social media? CX includes UX, but the overall scope of CX is wider, tracking the entire customer journey and the lifetime relationship between brand and user.
What will you be doing? In this role, you will perfect the customer’s entire experience. As such, you will solve customer problems as they arise, and feedback this information to your colleagues across research, design and marketing, to prevent the issue happening again. There is also an analytical element to the job, as you will need to track, manage and respond to customer experience based on the data.
What will you need? There are few CX-specific degrees, although the CX Academy offers alternative training. However, experience with the customer journey is more important in a CX career. As such, many CX professionals come from fields such as marketing, research insights and data science.