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What do I need to learn to get an amazing UX/UI jobs in 2017? – This is the most frequent question I get from Senior UX/UI designers. In this article, I will tell you the answer, which will give your career (and your paycheck) a huge boost.
5 UX skills for 2017
Why not UX or UI? Like it or not, most senior and/or manager level jobs in our trade are UX/UI jobs, rarely pure UX or UI jobs. People try very hard to explain the differences, but from a hiring manager’s perspective, it looks miles better if you have UI skills for a UX design job and vice versa. Obviously, you don’t need to be able to install Yeoman using npm to grab a well-paid UX researcher job, but if you know some JavaScript wizardry, you might be on the right track for a £75k+ salary. So let’s get started with the 5 bulletproof UX/UI skills for 2017.

1. Augmented Reality UX/UI

Augmented reality might not have been part of your life in 2015, but if you don’t jump on the augmented reality UX/UI bandwagon by 2017, you will miss the best jobs. I believe that the impact of augmented reality will be similar to the impact of smartphones. They might not be widespread even in 2017, but by the end of the decade, everyone and his cat will live in a world, where the offline world blends with the digital world through augmented reality. It is our job as UX-ers to make this as seamless and effortless as possible from the users perfective.

Microsoft Hololens
Learning AR is quite challenging at the moment. As with any emerging technology, there are many approaches and no clear industry standard. With that said, I would suggest starting with Microsoft’s quite extensive HoloLens documentation. If you want to create augmented reality experiences as soon as possible, start learning Unity3D. Fortunately, you can download Unity3D for free, and there is a very helpful community plus cartloads of tutorials. Your scripting knowledge will be helpful here. This leads to the 5th skill I’m suggesting in this article: Javascript: you can use JS as a scripting language in Unity3D.

2. Remote User Experience Testing

Remote user experience test design and analysis is a vital skill for any UXer even today. If you still base your work on hunches, best practices or HiPPOs, I got some bad news for you: you will lose your job soon. Unless you start getting feedback from the real users. Now you could use a brick and mortar lab, outsource your UX research, or learn how to conduct remote user experience testing. You can’t get more than 5-7 users a day in an old school lab, and only from near your lab. If you want to test with 40 users from different cities, varying age ranges, genders and socioeconomic status, you must resort to remote UX testing. It’s vital if your company targets more than one country.

Learning it is quite easy. Dozens of books and workshops are available. You could opt for a more expensive day-long training like the one by Nielsen Norman Group, or download some free learning material from remote UX platform companies, like the UX Testing Handbook from WhatUsersDo.

3. Rapid prototyping

Testing a website/app after it has been released is usually too late. With the blazingly rapid pace digital projects, very quick evaluation is crucial. You should be able to create the next iteration as fast as possible to show it to stakeholders and real users (see the previous skill, remote UX testing). Development takes time, even if you have a big, dedicated team to start working on your new version right away. That’s why you should start using a rapid prototyping tool.

There are so many RP tools nowadays, that the choice seems really hard. But when learning rapid prototyping, your best bet is to pick the industry standard: Axure RP. Many big brands use it and it looks great on your CV. Learning another one will be a breeze after Axure. Also worth mentioning that Axure has the biggest selection of learning materials and events where you can learn it. I would especially recommend the Axure World conference (not just because I was a speaker there in 2014, but I believe it’s the best of its kind).

4. HTML & CSS

Most senior UX-ers already got a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. If you don’t, you definitely need to learn it before the end of this year. Even if you don’t build websites, this knowledge will help you to understand the web better, and will make communicating with front-end developers miles easier. When you create expert reviews or tag user testing videos, this knowledge will be very hand. When you inspect competitor sites, you will be able to see behind the scenes, and understand how they were built. It is a very important skill in almost all UI jobs, and it can help you to land your dream job, even at manager or head of UX level.

online HTML & CSS tutorial
Learning this will be the easiest among the 5 for most. I would suggest starting with an interactive, online course, like Code Academy’s HTML & CSS introductory course.

5. JavaScript

JavaScript is the Achilles’ heel of many UX designers who don’t happen to have a background in software development. To set things straight, you will be able to survive as a UX design without JS, even in 2017, but if you want to learn to code, this is where you should start as a UXer. Not only because it looks great in your CV, but because it will help you to discover solutions making your users’ life easier, or make them convert better. Software developers will create the software within the specs, but are very unlikely to invent solutions helping you with your goals and KPIs. For those, you need to know they are possible, and sometimes you would need to code the proof of concept version. Long story short, JavaScript helped me in all my roles, and I’m certain it will also help you if you decide to learn it. Even if you ignore the direct application, coding is a great training for your brain, and can be great fun too.

online JavaScript tutorial
To start learning it, I would suggest interactive online JS tutorials. Javascript Roadtrip from CodeSchool is a good example, but there are many similar ones on the net. Most of them can be started for free, so what holds you back?

Futuresight

Will those 5 skills help you to land your dream job in 2017? Definitely, but they will not guarantee it. It’s important to keep an open eye of what are the desired and essential skills in job specs, and if you find any that you are missing, it’s probably a good bet to at least explore it, and know what it is. Now obviously there are some job descriptions almost requiring 30 years in neuroscience and formal training in drone piloting for a lead UX role, but browsing LinkedIn jobs will definitely help.

Good luck in the hunt! Pro tip: you can start looking for your 2017 dream job even today.

Note: If I missed the most important skill for a senior UX professional, please comment. If I have them all, you are welcome to share this article.

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