What Does a UX Designer Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

User experience (UX) is part of every product and service available today. As a UX designer, you’ll get to think about how people interact with products and services. This article shares the basics of becoming a UX designer.

[Featured image] A UX designer wearing eyeglasses and a blue shirt draws a wireframe on a whiteboard.

Anytime you interact with a product or service, you have a user experience (UX); this might entail navigating a mobile app, browsing a website, or interacting with a physical product. A UX designer seeks to make products and services easy, effective, and delightful to use, and having a good UX design can make the difference between a product's or service’s success and failure. 

The term user experience (UX) refers to all aspects of this interaction. Think about the last time you used a new product. Were you able to accomplish your task? How easy was it? How did it make you feel? UX design seeks to make products and services that are easy, effective, and delightful.

The UX designer thinks through each step of how an individual would interact with a product or service to make it simple, effective, and delightful. It’s a challenging and rewarding role. Read on to learn more about what a UX designer does and how you might get started in a career in this field.

Did you know? 

Don Norman, a cognitive psychologist and designer, coined the term “user experience” in his 1988 book The Design of Everyday Things. Norman became the first official user experience architect during his time at Apple in the 1990s.


What is a UX designer?

The UX designer’s role is to make a product or service usable, enjoyable, and accessible. Whilst many companies design user experiences, the term is often associated with digital design for websites and apps. Whilst the exact process varies from product to product and company to company, the general design phases tend to stay the same.

The vocabulary of UX design

Before we dive into the essentials of UX design, defining a few terms you’re likely to encounter whilst working in the field is helpful Here are 10 to get you started:

  • A/B testing: A method for comparing two versions of a product or service to evaluate which is more successful

  • Accessibility: The concept of whether people of all abilities can use a service or product, irrespective of their situation

  • Card sort: A session where participants organise information into logical groups to help determine the information architecture

  • End user: The person who will use a finished product or service after purchase

  • Human-computer interaction: Field of study examining computer technology design and the interaction between humans and computers

  • Information architecture: The structural design of information to make it more understandable

  • Mockup: A realistic visual model of what a final webpage or application will look like

  • Persona: A fictional representation of an ideal customer to help you understand their needs, goals, and behaviours

  • Prototype: A sample or simulation of a final product used to test and gather feedback

  • User flow: A diagram that maps out each step a user takes when using a product or service

  • Wireframe: A web page layout stripped of visual design used to prioritise page elements based on user needs

UX designer tasks and responsibilities

As a UX designer, you’re responsible for a user’s overall satisfaction with a product. Think of yourself as the customer’s advocate, always looking for ways to improve the customer’s experience. Let’s take a look at some tasks and responsibilities you’ll likely encounter throughout the design process.

1. Understand the user and the brand. Think about what problem you’re trying to solve for the user and how this aligns with brand goals.

2. Conduct user research. Identify user needs, goals, behaviours, and pain points. Tools for user research might include surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus groups, or A/B testing. At some companies, a UX researcher leads this process. 

3. Analyse what you’ve learned. At this stage, you’ll build user personas based on your research to help you identify the most important product and service elements. Start to map out what the user flow will look like.

4. Design. As you build out the design, you’ll create site maps, wireframes, or prototypes to give you and your team a better idea of the final product. A user interface (UI) designer will add visual or interface elements at this stage.

5. Conduct user testing. Validate the design by tracking how real users interact with the product or service (usability testing). Identify any problems with the design and develop solutions.

6. Present your work. Deliver the design solution to your client or company.

Essential skills for a UX designer

UX designers leverage a wide range of technical and workplace skills to bring a successful product or service to market (or improve upon an existing product). Many of these skills transfer from other fields, so even if you’re new to UX design, you’ve likely developed a few already. Focus on these essential skills, and you can begin to build a strong foundation for a career.

Workplace skills

  • Communication skills will help you effectively interview users and present solutions to clients or management.

  • Empathy allows you to think about problems and solutions from the user’s point of view.

  • Collaboration skills empower you to work harmoniously with your team, taking feedback, exploring solutions, and leveraging expertise.

  • Critical thinking encourages you to challenge your assumptions and innovate new solutions.

Technical skills

  • Research, including interviews, surveys, and observation, guides you to make the best decisions in the design process. 

  • Information architecture helps you organise and prioritise large and complex sets of information.

  • Wireframing (building a skeletal framework for a website or app) enables you to explore design solutions efficiently.

  • Prototyping is essential for testing functionality and identifying problems.

Although not essential for UX designers, fundamental visual design and coding skills can help you understand how your design fits the greater product development process.

Types of UX designer jobs

UX design is an exciting and always-evolving field, and you might encounter a number of job titles associated with user experience (UX designer, interaction designer, product designer, and service designer, amongst them). 

As a UX designer working at a smaller company, you’ll likely have a more general role with responsibility for each step of the design process. At a larger company, you might focus on one speciality or facet of UX design, like information architecture, UX research, usability analysis, UX writing, UX engineering, or interaction design. 

As you gain experience, you’ll have the opportunity to advance within your specialisation to become a UX subject matter expert (SMX) or move into a managerial role as a project manager, product manager, or director of user experience.

Why pursue a career in UX design?

Working as a UX designer means you can apply your creativity and analytical skills in a wide range of fields that might interest you. Your work will vary daily and from project to project, allowing you to continually learn and grow throughout your career.

How much do UX designers make?

The average base salary for a UX designer in India is ₹8,000,000, according to Glassdoor [1].  Keep in mind that how much you earn will depend on a number of factors, including location, industry, company, and years of experience.

How to become a UX designer

UX design is a diverse and evolving field, and multiple paths can lead to a successful career as a UX designer. The overlapping skill sets of many professional fields, including graphic design, architecture, interior design, software development, and industrial design, transition well into UX design. 

Following these steps can help you build a foundation for a career in UX design. 

1. Take a course in UX design. Even if you have no specific prior experience, you can start getting career-ready with a course or certification in UX design. Look for a course or programme where you’ll learn the fundamentals, get hands-on experience with the latest UX design tools, complete projects for your portfolio, and network with others in the industry.

2. Practise your skills in the real world. You don’t need to wait to get hired as a UX designer to gain experience. Volunteer your skills for a charitable organisation, non-profit, or business of a friend or family member. Alternatively, you could redesign a user experience you’ve had in the past that wasn’t as good as it could have been. This is commonly referred to as an unsolicited redesign. 

If you’re already working full-time in another field, practise your UX design skills on the job by identifying a potential challenge and designing a solution.

3. Build a design portfolio. Whilst you don’t necessarily need a degree to get a job in UX design, you will want to demonstrate your skills through a portfolio of work. Compile the projects you’ve finished in your coursework, volunteer work, and unsolicited redesigns. Continue to add your best work as you gain more experience.

Get Started

By completing the Google UX Design Professional Certificate, available through Coursera, you can equip yourself with the job-ready skills you’ll need for an entry-level role in UX design in as little as six months. You’ll learn design tools such as Adobe XD and Figma and build a portfolio to show prospective employers and clients. The certificate programme includes over 200 hours of instruction that you can participate in from the convenience of home. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources


Glassdoor. UX Designer Salaries in India, ”  https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/india-ux-designer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,5_IN115_KO6,17.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed June 26, 2023.

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