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What is a UX Designer?

Reviewed By User Experience Expert and Coach
Lisando Pat
February 9, 2023
UX is short for "user experience," which indicates the field around how people interact with the specific technology.

Conversely, UI is short for User Interface. Usually jobs will list as UX/UI, so it's good to be versed in both. A UX designer will communicate ideas with team members through flow charts, wireframes and finally fully fleshed visual designs. This job requires collaborating with teammates to discover and improve ways with which users engage with the site experience. 

A design project will start with a collaboration of UX researchers, product managers and analysts to identify user needs. After fleshing out an idea, the UX designer is the primary contact responsible for the product and showing off what the new experience will solve.

*UX designers are different from visual designers in that they are mostly focused on an experience, rather than a graphic or image. 

What does a UX/UI Designer do?

UX designers will often work on a project basis, and projects can range anywhere from a few days to several months. A project will start with a collaboration of UX researchers and product analysts to identify user needs. A day to day of ux designer will depend on where they are in the design process, fleshed out below.

A project begins with an initial ideation phase, where the UX designer collaborates with other team members to showcase the biggest issues in the current experience. This collaboration often happens with the entire product team, and is based on a mix of qualitative and quantitative data. The UX designer will mock up wireframes to show the team potential solutions to the concept while focusing on the problems the new experience will solve. This will often take several rounds of feedback to accommodate for all scenarios and inputs. These are called "Feedback Rounds."

After securing team and leadership buy-in for a project solution, a UX designer will begin the visual design process. This includes mapping out each screen of the experience and noting the interaction elements involved. Often this comes with cross-functional team collaboration with copywriters, photographers, and legal teams (occasionally). The project or product manager usually facilitates all visual feedback rounds. 

After these rounds have been completed, a UX designer will present the designs in a prototype format to a developer to be implemented for the product. There is ongoing communication between the UX designer and engineering team to achieve the desired experience.

Do I need a degree to be a UX Designer?

Absolutely not! This is actually a great role that is not even usually offered in traditional education systems. This makes it slightly more competitive, but with the right preparation you can set yourself apart.  lmi offers

If you are lucky enough to have a degree, this job fits great with both psychology and fine arts fields. Psychology degrees in particular often do well in these positions because they’re able to understand and focus on the “why” behind user interactions and enjoy the act of designing for user experience. Fine arts are great because any art background can help with designing for users, though definitely not necessary to be successful.

Truthfully, the best ux/ui designers we've ever worked with do NOT have degrees!

If you're new here to bridged, we're glad to meet you! We are huge fans of alternate forms of education, and recommend specific certifications to target skills. While this job works great with degrees, you have other options. Learn more here.

Our Favorite UX Designer Certifications

Some other notable certifications:

Career Path of a UX Designer

While this sample career path is very common in the tech industry, ux designers can have a range of roles and responsibilities. Often UX designers transition into other product roles, and sometimes even research roles!

UX Designer
2-3 Years
*Or Associate
Senior UX Designer
3-5 Years
Design Manager
5-10 Years
Director of UX
4-6 Years

What is a UX Designer's salary?

We've aggregated thousands of salaries across glassdoor and linkedin, and ux designers can make anywhere between 75k - 95k, depending on their location and skillsets.

Top Skills of a UX Designer

We've aggregated thousands of job descriptions at top companies looking for common threads in UX design. Think about ways you've had experience with each of these bullets, and be ready to chat about them in interviews.

  • Collaboration with engineering teams to ensure that design concepts are feasible and implemented correctly
  • Awareness of accessibility, mobile-responsive designs, and best-in-class solutions
  • Collaborate with the team and our clients to identify the right solutions and products to build
  • Quickly test hypotheses with prototypes and minimum viable products (MVPs)
  • Identify target users and assist with interviews or other types of data gathering to help articulate user needs
  • Provide guidance on UX research techniques and testing
  • Produce high-quality solutions through deliverables like customer journey maps, prototypes, storyboards, site maps and wireframes
  • Have a compelling portfolio that demonstrates attention to detail and highlights a deep understanding of product design
  • Moderated Prototype Evaluation

Top Tools of a UX Designer

We've also compiled the most common tools listed in job description. If you're serious about becoming an UX Designer, get familiar with these and be ready to talk about them.

For Gathering Qualitative Data

  • UserBrain
  • WEVO
  • Hotjar
  • Fullstory
  • Sprig

For Prototyping & Design

  • Figma
  • Sketch
  • Indesign
  • Adobe Suite
  • Miro
  • Zeplin

For Task Management

  • Jira
  • Confluence
  • Notion
  • Trello

For Portfolio Creation

  • Webflow
  • Dribble
  • Behance
  • Squarespace
  • Wix
  • WordPress

Key Traits and Competencies of a Successful UX Designer


UX designers need to be constantly seeking out ways to improve a user journey and obsessed with user decisions.


Design thinking is a concept used to represent a set of processes by which design concepts are developed. UX designers need to be at least familiar with the concepts if not practicing them daily.


This one is fairly obvious, but ux designers need to have great visualization and presentation skills to communicate their ideas internally, and create experiences for users.


Unfortunately often there are several cooks in the design kitchen. UX designers need to be resilient to changes with scope, or simply someone in leadership "not liking" their thoughtful designs.


UX designers need to pay clear attention to small details that may improve or derail a user's experience.


Critical thinking comes into play when determining which problems are most immediate to solve, and designing to solve those for users.

As a UX Designer, you'll work most with: 

Product Analysts
Learn more
UX Researchers
Learn more
Project Managers
Learn more
Product Managers
Learn more

What's the difference between UX and CX?

UX is terminology for user experience, which focuses primarily on usability and accessibility of a website or product. Managing UX is often a role within a product department.

CX stands for customer experience, which is the experience a customer gets from a brand, usually post-purchase. This includes things like post-purchase communication, packaging, delivery and customer support. Managing CX usually falls within a company's operations or customer service departments.

Do I need a bootcamp to become a UX Designer?

Bootcamps are great intros to the field of user experience, full stop. But they are extremely time consuming and expensive.

We believe you can learn just as much from using a tool like bridged or Coursera to identify and learn skills at 1/10 of the cost of a traditional bootcamp. If you have the resources to access a bootcamp, they often come with connections and suggestions that help catapult your career.

However, if you are highly motivated and don't mind self-paced learning, you do not need a bootcamp to be a successful UX designer.  

How to get experience as a UX/UI Designer

Learning on the job is one of the fastest ways to get familiar with new topics, and showing is much better than telling. Use a tool like Figma or Sketch and look at their UI kits and templates to find one you like and use it as a jumping off point. Most ux/ui design jobs require a portfolio, and unlike cover letters hiring managers often DO look at them.

We recommend reaching out to your community! Ask to redo websites pro-bono. You will learn much more from doing real work than reading about it or watching videos. If a local company bites, ask to interview their clientele! Perform prototype testing! Keep tabs on the things you're doing for a portfolio review in future interviews.

Even if your work is spec (speculative, meaning not for a company) work, having professional-looking fake work in there shows you may be worth the shot. The other bonus about spec work is your can work on what inspires YOU, instead of what a company might need.

This spec/real work is usually compiled in a site creator like Squarespace, Wix or Webflow (our fav), and tada! You have a portfolio. Read on for popular tools and classes to get started.

Some spec work ideas for your portfolio: 

  • A mobile application for a delivery service
  • A website for your favorite local business
  • A platform application for a budgeting tool

Spec work is awesome, but UX design is extremely competitive and we're always looking for ways to help you stick out.

It's absolutely no secret local businesses are struggling. If you have a favorite one, whether it be a restaurant, bar or pet groomer, we encourage you to think about completing some spec work on their behalf and sharing with the owner afterwards. If you think your work is extra great, offer to sell it to them at a discounted rate (design is usually quite expensive!)

Even if they don't want the work, you can showcase their original site next to your improved one on your portfolio review, which shows you can think of improvements for real companies. Use our recommended problem/solution format, and focus on how you solved their problems. The hiring manager will be impressed.

UX/UI Designer Portfolio Review

UX Design interviews often have a crucial step called the Portfolio Review, where the prospective designer is expected to walk through their portfolio. It helps to have 3-4 meaty projects in the portfolio, and while many classes and bootcamps help with providing material for this, there are some tricks to being impressive.

This is the step where you show off all your spec (or real!) work to a real audience. Keep in mind, this is a presentation, but should still be lighthearted and fun. Most interviewers are looking for the "why" behind your designs, and if you can think like a user.

We recommend this presentation format: "I saw this problem (XYZ problem) with this application, so I did some research to validate a solution, and here's how I'd recommend solving it." The research part is the key to a successful review, because it shows you can be a voice for your users.

Recap Our Format for a Successful Portfolio Review

  • Here is a problem I noticed with this application or other similar applications.
  • This is the research I completed to validate the problem exists for other users, and that process helped me gather potential ways to tackle it.
  • My proposed solution solves these problems in 3 ways. Let's talk about them.


Key takeaway: UX designers are responsible for thinking through and communicating the look and feel of sites and applications so that they are intuitive to people who use them.

Learning the skills to be a successful UX design is a great way to break into tech. This can be self-taught, and has a lower barrier of entry than a lot of roles. But because of this, it's a little competitive, so we recommend doing as much extra work as possible.

Here at Bridged we are huge fans of stacking micro-certifications to achieve desired career results. We're building a product to make your career planning fun and affordable, and we'd love to talk to YOU! Was this article helpful? Did you land an interview for a marketing coordinator role?

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How to Get a Job as a UX Designer

We love a stepped process for quick and specific results. The 3 tiered process is best.

We recommend starting out by documenting things about you, how you like to work, and how these things might tie into your next job. For example, a person with motion sickness should not become a trucker. Same deal here.

Learn more
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    do your research.
    Check out our list of relevant core competencies and skills. Research other jobs in the field to see if any of those appeal to you more.

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    identify skills.
    If those sound good, look at our job descriptions. Identify and check off what skills you already have, and start thinking about ways to target the ones you don't.

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    take classes.
    we recommend classes and certifications to get familiar with specific, relevant job requirements. Learn from your home with no more fluff or expensive bootcamps.