4 Myths About A Career In UX Design

4 Myths About A Career In UX Design

by Rosie Allabarton, UX Mastery
February 9, 2016

UX design has become a hot topic both in and out of the tech scene, but as with many ‘buzzwords’ the legend often belies the reality. You may have noticed that many of your colleagues love to throw in comments about ‘the bad UX’ of a product, or ‘the great UX’ of a website, but there is still a lot of ignorance around what these terms actually mean. In this post I’m going to bust four myths about a career in UX design so you can sort the fact from the fiction if you’re thinking about launching yourself into this lucrative, creative and varied career.

If you have comments or questions about UX career myths, join our conversation here.

Myth: UX designers and UI designers do the same thing

A commonly held misunderstanding is that UX design and UI design are the same thing. This is far from the truth. Although UX designers and UI designers often work together on a product, they perform very different roles within the team. So, what’s the difference?

UX design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the product.

UI design, on the other hand, is focused on the design of the actual interface elements that the user interacts with to accomplish a goal within an application.

During the UX design process the questions a UX designer is concerned with are: Was it easy to navigate? Did you ever feel lost or confused? How did you know where to click to get to where you needed to go?

While the questions a UI designer is concerned with are: How did it make you feel? Was there a logical hierarchy to the interface and typography? Was the color scheme consistent? Were there design patterns that you recognized from other interfaces?

Myth: Anyone can become a UX designer

Wrong. Not everyone can work as a UX designer. Why? Because working in UX requires you to not only LOVE people, but to be endlessly curious about why they do the things they do. If you’re not a people-person, and you have no curiosity about human behaviour then this simply isn’t the career choice for you. Sorry!

Here are some essential personal skills and traits of successful UX designers:


During user research you will be regularly interacting with individuals and groups as they navigate your product. You need to be able to see that product from their perspective, irrespective of what your own is. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of the user means you are able to understand how to make that user experience even better for them.


Being curious about people is not essential to doing your job right, but it will have a marked effect on how much you enjoy it. Most UX designers are fascinated by the workings of the human mind, and love to study human behaviour. Wanting to find out why people behave the way they do should be what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Communication skills

It’s not just your target users who you’ll be interacting with both online, over the phone and in person; you’ll also be communicating regularly with developers, CEOs, project managers and designers. This means you’ve got to be able to communicate clearly with people of all levels of knowledge and experience. In some cases you will even have to explain what it is you do, as there is still so much ignorance about UX out there.

Myth: You need programming skills to become a UX designer

You definitely do not need programming skills to become a UX designer. Being able to communicate with and understand how teams of programmers work (and at what stage in the UX design process you need their involvement) is very important though. Whether at a startup or large corporation, you will be working intimately with developers to reach your end goal for a project. The developers will be working to transform your design ideas into a real, working website, so how you approach this relationship will determine the success or failure of your project.

Here are some tips to working with the development team:

  • Honesty – UX designers need to be open with developers about what the end goal of the product is.
  • Transparency – Developers need to be transparent about what and how they need to do something to achieve the desired result. They need to explain clearly why something won’t work, not just that it won’t.
  • Involvement – UX designers need to communicate with the development team right from the start of the project, not just when they need them. That way, they have a much clearer idea of what might or might not work early on.
  • Work on the same team – If possible, make sure that you sit on the same team as the programmers at your company. There is much less chance of miscommunication or disagreement when you are freely communicating all the time.
  • Be realistic – When sending over a final design for implementation, talk to the developers about what a realistic timeframe for the project would be. That way, everybody is on the same page with their expectations.

Myth: You need graphic design skills to become a UX designer

Graphic design and UX design are dramatically different. Graphic design is concerned with the aesthetics of the product – the decoration, colours and fonts. Essentially it dictates how things should look. UX design is, as we have already discussed, much more about making the user experience as delightful as it can be so that the user can reach their end goal in the quickest and easiest way possible. It focuses on the logic and structure behind the elements that you actually see and interact with, whereas the graphic designer is concerned with how those elements look.

If you’re thinking about moving from graphic design into UX design then keep the following in mind:

  • It’s more important to know what questions to ask than to have all the answers.
  • Keep your eye on the end goal of both the user and the business.
  • Plan roughly, don’t put too much effort in the early designs, and focus on the content and where it is, rather than what it looks like.
  • Think about the hierarchy of the content in relation to the user’s goal – what do they need to see first?

If you have comments or questions about UX career myths, join our conversation here.


Get Started in UX
What Is UX Design? 15 User Experience Experts Weigh In
7 Signs This Person Isn’t Actually A UX Designer
The Difference Between UX & UI – A Layman’s Guide
UX – A Process Or A Task

This article first appeared on UX Mastery and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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