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A Day in the Life of a UX Designer

skills Aug 09, 2021

 Trying to determine if UX design is the right career for you? Then you probably want to know what a UX designer does all day. In this installment of The Guac, we’ll give you the scoop!

 For most UX designers, no two days are the same. A UX designer might execute several completely different tasks within the span of hours, from researching to giving presentations to digging into a high-fidelity mockup. 

 Just as no two days are the same, no two UX/UI roles are exactly alike. A UX designer’s daily workflow changes based on their company and their job title. Similarly, a UX researcher’s tasks will look quite different from those of a UX writer or a UI designer.

 This line of work indeed offers plenty of variety. However, there are a few common types of work that all UX/UI professionals can expect to complete each day or each week. Read on to explore common UX workflows in the daily schedule of a UX designer.  

 

The 4 Main UX Tasks

If you work in UX design, chances are, your days and weeks will include some combination of researching, ideating, designing, and communicating

 While the proportion of each can change, you’ll likely spend most of your time on these duties.

1. Researching 

Every UX project starts with research. Without this crucial phase, UX designers can’t connect with their users to understand their needs and pain points. 

 Research occurs in stages, and this first pillar of UX work encompasses a wide assortment of methods and activities. After creating a research plan for a project, a UX designer might evaluate competitors or read research articles to understand the background of a problem. 

 With desk research complete, UX designers get to work understanding actual users by collecting their own data. They might conduct interviews, send out surveys, or use other data collection methods like field studies and card sorting. 

 There are tons of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Each helps designers understand an aspect of the problem at hand. Some methods help determine which users to target, while others are better for fine-tuning a design. 

 Though the task itself may change, research in its many forms is a key component of the daily life of a UX designer. 

2. Ideating

After research comes ideation. In this step, UX designers begin using their research findings to imagine potential solutions that address the problem at hand. This is when research observations become design concepts.

 Ideating takes many forms. To get started, UX designers carefully analyze their research, trying to uncover user’s pain points and deeply understand the problem at hand. They take time to define the problem and craft user personas. 

 Now the fun begins. With a clear idea of who the users are and what they want, the UX/UI team can brainstorm potential designs to meet their needs. They consider different concepts and sketch out potential designs. 

 These tasks can be done alone, but often, analyzing research, crafting user personas, and partaking in design ideation are team activities involving lots of sticky notes and group discussions.

 Once a general design concept has been chosen, UX designers can move to the next stage of the process. They might start sketching basic layouts and wireframes to get a general idea of the product. 

 Ideation happens again and again throughout the project as designers think of new ways to improve the original concept. Although ideating might just seem like brainstorming, it’s a huge part of a UX/UI designer’s daily and weekly workflow. In this profession, carving out time to just reflect on data and imagine design possibilities is essential for success.

3. Designing

Obviously, a big part of a UX designer’s daily work is actually designing!

 Using various tools, like Figma and Sketch, UX/UI designers spend much of their time creating the product itself. This work happens in stages as well. Designers begin by refining the hand sketches and wireframes they started. Then, they move to low fidelity and high fidelity prototyping, giving life to the details and overall style of their design.

 Design work is both individual and collaborative. While you might spend time alone arranging a few common types of work pages or navigation menu layouts, collaboration tools let other designers leave feedback on the page. As such, design-related tasks include giving, receiving, and acting on feedback from team members.

 Depending on your role and the size of your team, you could spend nearly 75% of your time designing. Larger organizations might have dedicated UX researchers, which frees up other UX designer’s time to focus on the product itself. On a smaller team, you may spend just as much time on the other stages of the design process. 

4. Communicating

Communication is another huge part of a UX designer’s job. UX/UI designers often work through long-term projects with a creative team, and so reaching a consensus on design decisions and sharing a vision for the product is an important part of the process. 

 Outside of their team, UX designers also have to communicate with managers, developers, stakeholders, and even clients. They may have to pitch a concept to high-level decision-makers for their product, or they may have to work directly with a client to ensure their designs reflect the client’s needs and wishes. 

 UX designers are responsible for designing the product— not necessarily making it work. That’s where developers come in. UX/UI professionals have to work with coders and product engineers to ensure their designs are functional. 

 All of this collaboration occurs day in and day out for UX designers through email, messaging tools like Slack, or project management platforms like monday.com and Jira. Face-to-face or Zoom meetings are also a daily part of the UX designer’s workflow. 

 

Another Common Part of a UX Designer’s Day: Agile/Scrum

 

Many UX designers devote time in their day to working with an Agile or Scrum team. While Agile/Scrum workflows are common in engineering and software development, more and more UX teams have embraced the Agile ethos.  

 

 So what is Agile? 

 Agile is an iterative approach to software development. Instead of trying to launch a new product all at once, an Agile team delivers work in small increments. 

 Scrum is one popular type of Agile workflow. Scrum involves working on close-knit teams and conducting “sprints” to complete high-quality work with short turnaround times. It involves specific ceremonies like daily standup meetings to identify any barriers to completing the day’s work ahead.

 

On a Scrum team, you’ll also participate in: 

  • Sprint planning sessions for setting target completion dates
  • Sprint review sessions, where the developing team and stakeholders get together to discuss the sprint’s outcomes
  • Sprint retrospective sessions, where the team reflects on the previous sprint and considers how to improve in the future

 

As we’ve mentioned, UX/UI designers devote lots of time to collaboration. Scrum provides a framework for making that collaboration more organized and effective. As a UX designer on a Scrum or other Agile team, expect to spend your days and weeks upholding this process.

 There’s a lot that goes into Agile— it’s an entire reimagining of traditional product development, and it can’t be explained in just a few sentences. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our Design Masterclass— Agile for UX/UI Designers! [Coming Soon]

Typical UX Design Daily Schedule

 As a UX/UI designer, each day is different. Your tasks for the day will depend on the stage of the project you’re completing. If you’re on a Scrum team, your days will also vary based on the phase of the sprint you’re completing. As such, one day could be mostly devoted to research and another day spent on refining a hi-fidelity prototype. 

 However, if you’re a designer working on many projects simultaneously, a typical day might look something like this:

9:00 AM

  • Daily Scrum standup meeting
  • Check emails
  • Plan the day’s tasks
  • Start clearing errands from your to-do lists

10:00 AM

  • Research preparation, such as writing interview questions or sending surveys

11:30 AM

  • Begin ideation tasks for the day
    • Analyze previous research
    • Work on building personas on the whiteboard with the team

12:30 PM

  • Lunch! Take a well-deserved break.
  • Get some mid-day inspiration by checking design sites like Dribbble

1:30 PM

  • Sketching and wireframing
  • Respond to feedback from the previous day’s work
  • Provide feedback for other team member’s wireframes in Figma

3:30 PM

  • Check-in meeting
    • Discuss ideas with the team
    • Ask questions and address setbacks
    • Report progress to upper managers or clients

4:00

  • Incorporate feedback from the check-in meeting into wireframes/prototypes
  • Respond to emails
  • Wrap up the day’s tasks and plan for tomorrow

 6:00

  • Head home for the night



A UX Designer’s Day in a Nutshell

No matter the company you work for, you can expect UX life to be: 

 

  • Dynamic— Even if you stay with the same company for decades, each UX project will be different from the last.
  • Fast-paced— Most UX/UI projects involve various deadlines and team members. As such, UX professionals rarely complain of boredom. 
  • Challenging (in a good way)— UX designers constantly solve problems. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be a problem! But UX designers also get the chance to try new ideas and find exciting ways to make better products for their users. 
  • Collaborative— Most UX designers enjoy the chance to meet and work with like-minded creatives with all kinds of backgrounds, from photography to engineering and beyond. 
  • Both Creative and Analytical— UX/UI designers get to analyze data and explore design elements like shape, color, typography, and more. It’s the best of both worlds!

 

Sounds Like a Great Day? Become a UX Designer!

Overall, UX design is a dynamic and engaging career. If the schedule above sounds like your dream job, joining the UX industry could be your next big career move. 

 At Avocademy, we’ll help you learn UX/UI basics and build a UX portfolio for transitioning to the field. Schedule a free mentorship call today to get started!

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