UX design has become a highly demanded career these days, not only because more and more businesses need help with their online platforms, but also because it’s the kind of job that can be done from home.
And that last aspect in the middle of a pandemic is incredibly attractive for many freelancers out there.
But how well do you know the context of a UX designer?
I believe that the more you get to understand what we do the better you can understand what your business needs in terms of UX; but also, decide which freelance UX designer you can choose.
Why Do You Need a UX Designer?
In a survey made by Adobe a few years ago, they noticed an interesting trend.
63% of the people who had hired five or more UX designers in the past year and the remaining 37% confirmed they were planning on hiring the double in the next year.
If that was a few years ago, what could be happening now that so many startups and entrepreneurs are looking for UX/UI freelance designers?
Essentially speaking, we no longer live in an era where a WordPress, Wix, or Blogspot site will be professional enough. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and only UX designers can do so efficiently for you.
To summarize this story, here are some reasons why do you need a UX designer:
- Organize your website. This not only means uploading your products’ pictures and descriptions. It also means putting one or another button in the exact place it has to be to make a sale. It’s mapping out the site well enough to make sure the user never gets lost or bored.
- And to do so, you need someone who understands very well what your audience is looking for. UX/UI designers make sure to transform whatever is in your future client’s mind into a beautiful and functional website. There are a lot of insights, numbers, interviews, and tests in this process.
- A good way to keep people interested in your site is to make it accessible to everybody. This includes a responsive site (meaning, it works well both on desktop and mobile apps), with a fast speed connection (you know you wouldn’t last long in a site that takes more than 10 seconds to load a page), and considering the browser someone is navigating from. For example, not everyone uses Chrome because it’s a browser that lately works very slowly, so adapting your site to different browser specifications guarantees that wherever they are connecting from everything runs according to the plan.
- And once everything is running perfectly, you need to gather information about your visitors! Where they are coming from, their daily behavioral habits, interests, if they already knew your product or service, and more.
How Does a UX Designer Do All That?
Usually, the UX designer job starts with product search, which basically means positioning a product or service in a way that there are no negative surprises for the users during the search.
This starts by a thorough market and product research. It helps the designer to identify opportunities through data collection from different channels.
Once they have all this information, the next step is defining the personas of the end-users. It’s like putting on faces, names, and personalities to a bunch of data for better comprehension.
For example, if you sell car batteries, there are different types of people who may be interested in such products, and no, they are not all 40-year-old men who fix cars for a living. Sometimes they can be young women listening to their parents and buying an extra battery just in case, and sometimes they can be a family of four.
Those three different types of visitors look for something different in your product and site, it’s the UX designer’s job to adapt your site to each of their needs through studying their behaviors and patterns.
“So that’s it?” you may be wondering. And many UX freelance designers will be happy to tell you “Yes! It is!” but it’s just the top of the iceberg.
It is also necessary to understand how the final product will look like (wireframes), prototyping (a clearer view of the final product adapting insights from data navigation and usability), testing and more testing (observing how the user interacts with the system and vice versa).
Let’s create progress together.
Working as a UX Freelance Designer
In this previous blog, I explained to you the benefits of having a UX/UI freelance team, but maybe it will also be interesting for you to the other side of the coin.
How does being a UX freelance designer feel like? What do they have to do to become one? Where can they be found?
Why Are There So Many UX Freelance Designers?
I love this question because this may be the only career where competition is not really a threat.
According to LinkedIn stats, there are almost one million UX designers in their network. Which probably means there are, at least, 3 times that number in the real life by now.
I would even dare to say that’s not enough. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of businesses going online doubled up in only a few months, which basically means UX designers did not lack work during the quarantine.
But there’s also another interesting fact: when you think about IT careers you probably think about a huge office full of middle age young men. But almost 47% of the designers are women!
It’s a career that doesn’t discriminate by gender or other biological variables.
Another variable that makes UX designers so demanded these days is, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, is the increase of online businesses.
We are not even close to seeing this niche stuck in the employment market, there’s simply too much to be done yet, besides, since UX designers usually work as a team, there can be teams of 2 to 15 people working on the same project.
What Qualifications Does a UX Designer Need?
I’m not sure 15 years ago some kid got out of high school thinking “I’m going to be a UX Designer!”
In fact, it’s very rare to find a team of UX designers where they all studied that career at college, most of us come from different backgrounds. Everything from Psychology to Digital Marketing, including language teachers and engineers.
Why such a wide spectrum? Nobody knows exactly why yet. But we can speculate it has a lot to do with the fact that to be a professional UX designer you need experience, not a college degree.
Many of my colleagues started in this business going to UX boot camps. And after the first one, there’s no going back. It’s like you were hooked!
Besides, there are thousand of online alternatives that can help you start in this field. Some are free courses, some are mere introductions, but as I said, this career is learned through experience.
This does not mean that titles and certifications are pointless, they are evidence of what you know, but in this field, it’s a matter of seeing is believing.
It doesn’t matter if you have 20 different diplomas, recruiters and businessmen want to see what you can do.
The Anatomy of a UX Designer
If you think this career is specific for certain types of people, you are kind of wrong. Anybody, of any age, gender, skin color, sexual identity, location, and monetary background can become a UX freelance designer.
However, this is the kind of job that will make you spend hours in front of a screen, sited, probably will little human contact besides your colleagues who may or may not be right next to you.
To be a successful UX/UI freelance designer you must have soft skills, industry skills, and crossover skills.
Soft skills are the basic interpersonal skills to work in a collaborative and communicative environment. You are not a machine and you even though you will be working with many of them, your partners, boss, and the people you are working for are 100% humans, so don’t forget about empathy, curiosity, and critical thinking.
Industry skills are referred to as the UX/UI processes, like wireframing and prototyping. UX writing is not content writing either, so previous training in that area is extremely necessary.
These industry skills are usually gained through boot camps, interacting with other designers, but mostly, being curious about this job and its environment.
There are many universities and private institutes where you can learn all the basics of UX design, and for more hardcore training, there are many online options for you to learn core concepts and elements in this career.
While the crossover skills are mostly related to research and analytics skills, customer service, coding, development, and business skills.
Some of them will be taught in class or courses, but most of them you will learn them on the field. Working directly on your coding and interacting with real people.
The only that won’t help a new UX/UI designer is believing you know it all. Nobody does. Especially in a field that’s changing every day.
Simply be humble, eager to learn, curious about what other designers are doing.
And if you have to work from home, create your workspace. Hint: your bedroom is not a working space.
Even if you only have a little corner of the living room to place a desk and a laptop, make sure your resting space is not the same space you will be working at.
The Cons of Being a Freelance UX Freelance Designer
This is something both, designers and entrepreneurs need to know. This field has many advantages like flexible working hours, saving a lot of money in transportation if you work from home and a very friendly community.
However, freelancing itself carries many difficulties like working by milestones or projects that last for a very specific time.
Getting yourself into an unstable project, and not having as many designers as needed may lead to a dead-end, and you maybe end up working for a few months only.
Many freelance UX designers have to pay for their social security, which can lead to very high taxes.
And of course, the “I can do it all by myself” attitude many of us had had during the years will only slow down things, cause you many headaches, and increase your burnout syndrome.
Where to Find UX Freelance Designers or Where to Find Clients?
To end this blog, I will like to help my fellow designers with some freelance platforms that are great to start working from home, and for those of you looking for UX freelance designers, this list works as well.
Let me clarify this now: every freelancer should be working on their own website, a site that’s yours and only yours to promote your service. But if you are barely starting or don’t have the time to do this, check the following sites:
- Upwork: This is one of my favorites because there is always work for everybody there. It’s really easy to sign up, you can make contracts for long periods or short projects. Also, almost 90% of the customers there rehire you, which is a great sign for your economic stability.
- LinkedIn: not many people believe you can find a new job there, but it LinkedIn works, you just need to know how to use it properly. Don’t simply apply for a job, see who works at the company that’s promoting that position. Add them, talk to them, upload relevant content for other designers and see how, slowly, recruiters will come to you like bees to honey.
- Dribbble: it’s a community mostly for designers that also works as a job board. Build your portfolio, read feedbacks, and apply for jobs in the same platform.
- Freelancer.com: it’s pretty much like Upwork, but in my case, it has been less profitable. It doesn’t mean Freelancer does not work, maybe I just didn’t play it smartly. This site recommends candidates based on their previous ratings, it has many customers looking for UX designers and fees are not that high.
If you have questions related to being a UX freelance designer, I’m here to answer them.
And if you are looking for a professional UX freelance designer, I’m still your guy! Contact me any tie.