UX, or user experience, is a growing part of design, and is based on the idea that products or services should be designed according to the needs of the user. Often UX jobs apply to web design although user experience and usability can be applied to technology or product. If you’ve ever struggled to decipher the instructions for assembling some flat-pack furniture, you’ll know how important UX can be.
There are several strands to the field of UX, which includes designers, web developers and specialist UX testers. UX jobs often require you to have a good understanding of web design, visual design or organisational design skills and UX testers often have a background in psychology or social sciences.
Becoming a UX designer – what’s involved?
A UX designer will often take an iterative approach to design. They will design a basic version of a website, test it on several users, then use the test results to improve the design so that people can use the website intuitively. UX testing can involve eye-tracking technology and other psychological techniques for assessing how someone interacts with computers.
UX is a discipline that barely existed 10 years ago so there are no fixed career paths and no graduate jobs for UX designers. This also means there are great opportunities for people from a variety of related fields to become UX designers. A background as a developer, a visual designer, a project manager or a content manager means you’ll already have some expertise in the field.
If you’re set on getting some training or qualifications in UX, the User Experience Professionals Association has been developing certification in UX. An undergraduate degree in design, social sciences or computer science, or a master’s degree in product design or human-computer interaction may also help.
Why Bristol is a great place to look for a UX job outside London
Although London remains the centre of the British tech industry, there are more and more opportunities opening up around the country, with Bristol leading the pack.
Contractors in Bristol earn almost as much as those in London, getting £317 per day on average compared with £365 in the capital, according to the Daily Telegraph. When you factor in the lower cost of living in Bristol, it’s a highly attractive place for freelancers and contractors. You need a monthly income of just £3,100 to have the same spending power in Bristol as a Londoner earning £4,400 a month, according to the cost of living index Numbeo.com.
Bristol’s other big draw for UX designers is the city’s growing importance as a digital hub. As the home to major successes like Wallace and Gromit creators Aardman Animations and the BBC Natural History unit, Bristol has attracted large numbers of firms working in the creative and digital sectors. There are 15,900 jobs in these fields in Bristol and Bath, and the industry is expected to grow at 20 percent each year, according to Creative Industries, a Government-funded organisation that promotes tech, video games, TV and design.
If you're interested in a UX job in Bristol, browse our current vacancies.
Getting started with your UX career
Knowing where to start with UX design may seem as hard as trying to build that flat-pack furniture we mentioned earlier, but the opportunities in this new and growing field are sure to bring significant rewards for people who are willing to try.
UX can involve all aspects of working in software or product design, so you’ll have lots of opportunities to try different elements of UX and either help carve out the industry or join a major tech company that needs your UX skills.
Since Bristol is turning into a major digital hub, with such impressive growth in tech and the creative industries, it’s a good place to consider taking that next step with your career.