We're currently growing our User Experience team at OpenRoad. This is always an exciting process as it's great to see the different perspectives that each potential candidate brings. One of our favourite interview questions is "What makes a great UX practitioner?" The responses are as varied as the candidates themselves.
There are many different UX programs at local schools and no end of great books and websites that focus on the skills that people working in user experience need. Websites and higher education can teach people how to create wireframes, design an IA, and conduct a usability study. These foundational elements are important, but we feel that to really achieve success there are other "soft" skills that help define great UX people.
Empathy for the user. Good UX people are able to understand the pain that users feel when using systems, and why those pain points exist. They uncover people's motivations and goals. Good UX people want to solve these problems. The solutions that are then provided address those pain points.
Not all users are the same - good UX practitioners can extract requirements from people in a natural manner. The best observational research and interviews happen when the people don't know they are being observed or interviewed. A good UX practitioner is able to put people at ease, not be intimidating and be natural.
Advocate for the user
UX team members are the voice of the user back in the office. This means working with business, technical and visual design team members to help collectively design features that balance the needs of all stakeholders. Being able to communicate the true user need in a concise manner is important to ensure the user needs are not forgotten. Sometimes this means pushing back on ideas, and often it means getting creative to come up with solutions that balance many different requirements. The key role of the UX person is to ensure that the overall solution has not lost sight of the user problem that it was meant to solve.
If you've got these skills, we'd love to talk to you!