User Experience Designer

Kaihoahoa Wheako Whakamahi

Alternative titles for this job

User experience (UX) designers design the way websites and software applications (apps) look and work, based on what users need.

Pay

User experience designers usually earn

$55K-$100K per year

Source: AbsoluteIT, 'Tech Remuneration Report', January 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a user experience designer are good due to increasing demand for their services.

Pay

Pay for user experience designers varies depending on skills and experience.

According to AbsoluteIT, user experience designers in the:

  • lowest-paid group earn an average of $55,500 a year
  • middle pay range earn an average of $76,000
  • highest-paid group earn an average of $100,000.

User experience designers working on contract earn an average of $75 to $120 an hour.

Source: AbsoluteIT, 'Tech Remuneration Report', January 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

User experience designers may do some or all of the following:

  • research website and software application (app) design and technology trends
  • meet with clients to work out the requirements of their website or app and talk over ideas
  • meet users to understand their needs
  • work out website or app layouts and how the user will find their way around them
  • develop basic designs using wireframes (drawings of layouts) and prototypes (original models used to develop later versions) 
  • decide on the type, placement and content of graphics and multimedia features
  • test designs with users
  • liaise with writers, developers and other staff to help create websites or apps.

Skills and knowledge

User experience designers need to have:

  • web and app design and graphics skills
  • knowledge of user experience methods such as user research and creating wireframes and prototypes 
  • ability to develop websites and apps
  • knowledge of the principles of user-friendly design
  • understanding of how people interact with computers and mobile devices
  • understanding of common software development and project management practices.

Working conditions

User experience designers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work longer hours to meet deadlines, especially if they are self-employed
  • work from home, in an office, or anywhere a computer can be set up
  • often travel locally, nationally and internationally to meet clients, developers, project managers and systems specialists.

What's the job really like?

Jas Hua

Jas Hua

User Experience Designer

Jas Hua's interest in websites began at secondary school, where she came across some ugly examples. She was sure she could do better, and started learning about how sites were designed and structured. Now, it's her full-time job.

How do you create a good-looking and functional website? 

"Usually a client will say what they want, and what style, and then you have to come up with a wireframe, which shows where elements of the website will be positioned. After the client's approved it, you develop it into a first design. You may have to redesign it two or three times before it's finalised and you get something the client is happy with.

"You have to be clear about the purpose of a website, and its target audience – you have to keep those things in mind when you are designing."

What do you like most about your work?

"I really like designing pretty websites. Especially when you get the final design and people tell you 'Your site looks so cool' – that makes me very happy."

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a user experience designer. However, you usually need a certificate, diploma or degree in one of the following:

  • web/interaction design
  • graphic or media design
  • a computer-related area such as computer science.

You also usually need one or both of the following:

  • a portfolio of your design work
  • examples of projects you have worked on.

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include design and visual communication, and digital technologies.

For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience.

Personal requirements

User experience designers need to be:

  • imaginative and creative, with an eye for design
  • good at communicating ideas
  • able to accept criticism
  • able to work well under pressure and unsupervised
  • skilled at relationship and project management
  • skilled at problem solving.

You have to keep yourself inspired and up to date with new advances. Inspiration might come from looking at the way other websites are designed, or perhaps from architecture, fashion, or graphic design websites.

Photo: Jas Hua

Jas Hua

User Experience Designer

Useful experience

Useful experience for user experience designers includes:

  • previous experience with websites, such as volunteer work in graphic or web design
  • software development
  • user or market research
  • client or project management.

Physical requirements

User experience designers need to know how to use computer equipment properly to avoid occupational overuse syndrome (OOS).

Find out more about training

Engineering New Zealand
(04) 473 9444 - hello@engineeringnz.org - www.engineeringnz.org
IT Professionals
0800 252 255 - info@itp.org.nz - www.itp.org.nz
NZTech
(09) 475 0204 - info@nztech.org.nz - www.nztech.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Increasing online services drives demand for user experience designers

Skilled user experience designers are in demand due to:

  • increasing numbers of organisations shifting services and systems online
  • growing awareness of the need for user-friendly websites and apps
  • existing websites which need redesign so people can easily access them on mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

The number of website designers, which includes user experience designers, increased from 718 in 2005 to 1,144 in 2015 according to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates.

Types of employers varied

Many user experience designers are employed by:

  • firms specialising in website and app design and development
  • government departments
  • large retailers, banks, or service organisations.

Other user experience designers are self-employed.

Sources

  • AbsoluteIT, 'The Growth of Design – Digital Jobs in UX, CX, and Interaction Design', 3 March 2016, (www.absoluteit.co.nz).
  • Hays, 'Hotspots of Skills in Demand, January to June 2018', (www.hays.net.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'New Zealand Sectors Report Series – Information and Communications Technology', 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
  • Statista, 'Number of Available Applications in the Google Play Store from December 2009 to June 2017', accessed February 2018, (www.statista.com).
  • The Domain Name Commission, '.nz Statistics by Financial Year', accessed February 2018, (www.dnc.org.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

User experience designers may progress to set up their own user experience design business, or move into management roles.

A man stands at a whiteboard and a group of people on chairs sit around him

User experience designers work with website users to find out their needs as part of the design process

Last updated 8 August 2019