Often I’m asked what I look for in UX talent, and of course everyone wants a unicorn who has delved into every aspect of digital development, but there are two core traits I look for above everything else. The first is a real passion for the scientific method, which translates into any number of tools in our field such as interviewing users or usability testing. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, but an excitement as well as patience for the method will take you far. A great deal of insight and strategic direction is revealed when you set up an experiment, conduct it, synthesize the learnings, and report back the findings.
The next core trait, and where it gets fun, is coming up with the solution from a deeply creative place from within. This is where the intuitive UX practitioner will shine. It’s taking all of the raw findings and intuitively knowing what will satisfy and delight the user of your product. Sometimes, we don’t have the benefit of time / budget for experimenting and testing and we need to go on raw intuition alone. Some folks have it and some folks just don’t. I get super excited when I predict what’s going to fail right away in usability testing and then get validated, or the exact opposite occurs and it goes so right.
In general if there’s a person who thinks of others, and is a giver, they are going to shine in the field of UX. They have faith in themselves and their vision. They also constantly think about how their actions will affect those around them. It is truly rare to find someone with this combination and why it’s so difficult to hire and retain the top cut of UX talent. A portion of this can be taught, but some of it just needs to come naturally. Classes and experience will certainly help to a certain extent, and I do believe that almost everyone can learn about UX and make it part of their job even if it’s not in their title. But just as you wouldn’t design your own website or branding yourself, think about working with a truly talented User Experience professional for your next product. Surround yourself with these amazing folks, as I have had the great fortune to do, and watch the stellar results blossom.