User experience is one of the most impactful areas of the design world, especially in the last decade. A functional website and/or a mobile app are basic necessities for nearly all businesses. And with those needs come the need for a designer who's both attuned to the user's actions and understands how to bring user research to life. Not only are these roles incredibly valuable, they're also quite profitable. In fact, UX design is one of the best careers in the world, according to Glassdoor. But what does a day in the life of one of those user experts truly look like? How can someone land one of these amazing, valuable jobs? We tapped one of our very talented freelance designers, Waila, to answer all your questions about a UX Design career.
Artisan Talent: Hi! Tell us who you are and what you’re currently doing for a living?
Waila Skinner: I am a designer with over 10 years of experience, I am working as a UX Designer in the midwest. I have two cats and way too many hours spent on my Switch playing Animal Crossing. A fun fact about me is that I am a registered patent holder.
Artisan: How did you decide to pursue UX design as a career?
Waila: I always wanted to do something creative with my career, but I also didn’t want to be that “starving artist”. So I remember Googling design jobs in college and looking at what the requirements were for the jobs I wanted. I reverse-engineered my degree around those requirements. I have done many aspects of design: graphic design, visual web design, and even some front-end coding. But ultimately I found my passion in the problem-solving aspect of design and how the outcomes affect people.
Artisan: How do you organize your time as a freelancer?
Waila: I have multiple projects going on so it’s super important to make use of my shared calendar. I also block off time for work, so my day doesn’t auto-fill with others scheduling meetings. It's important to give yourself the space to work.
Artisan: What are the elements of your day that bring you joy? What about career satisfaction?
Waila: I have shifted to working from home and I love it. I enjoy my mornings now, I don’t have to rush out of the house and combat traffic. I have a cup of coffee, check my email, or do the Wordle of the day, etc. I can ease into my day. I look at my body of work and think about what I want to focus on next within my current role. In the past, I have explored research and mentorship for myself in accessibility. These support my primary career focus of UX really well.
Artisan: In your line of work, what’s the biggest challenge you encounter daily?
Waila: MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is sometimes the water eroding away the solid rock of your work and outputs that make it into production. I have learned that it is never too early to sync with your development team on feasibility.
Artisan: When you think about the future of UX design, what do you see?
Waila: I see a bright future. We are going deeper into the digital age and, as such, there is a demand that the interfaces and products we use as a society be digital. There is an expectation for ease of use and functionality, which means there will be plenty of problems to solve in this new age.
Artisan: What advice would you give to people who are pondering this career path?
Waila: Think about where you want to work. What do people who work there have in their portfolios? Look at career pages, too. I have always found success in matching requirements with my experience and portfolio. Also, don’t wait for the job—self-assign a project in order to solve a problem that demonstrates your own design thinking.
Waila Skinner is a freelance UX designer & consultant who specializes in bringing human-centered design principles to her work with diverse clients. An advocate for accessibility, design thinking, and research, Waila excels at delivering exceptional digital customer experiences and developing high-end digital products. Long story short? Waila is a strategic problem-solver, that loves simplifying the complex, to create exceptional digital experiences.
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