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09th Apr 2020

“We are innate relationship builders” Why UX design is becoming an attractive career option for women

Cathy Donohue

UX Design

UX design, or user experience design, is becoming a popular profession.

Defined as the process of understanding user behaviour through usability, usefulness, and desirability, UX is about people first and foremost. By understanding a user’s frustrations with certain aspects of a product, UX designers can then recommend improvements.

It’s fast becoming a popular industry for women, attracting 50 percent more females than any other technology-related position.

Figures from the Dublin-based UX Design Institute show that 50 percent of students are female and Morgan McKinley report similar figures in terms of job placements.

Empathy underpins great UX design and experts believe that women often have the upper hand here – we’d have to agree!

Kim Mackenzie-Doyle, founder of Why Design and Director of the Institute of Irish Designers is an amazing advocate for UX.

Speaking to Her, she explains why more and more women are breaking into UX.

“UX design is one of the fastest-growing disciplines in the Irish creative sector. It is a wonderful career choice for women, allowing us to use our natural abilities to shine. Women have natural empathy which allows us to understand user behaviours – understanding why you do what you do, identifying opportunities and solutions, creating digital experiences from that information – that will delight and inspire you to visit again.

“We are also organised beings allowing us to deal with a multitude of information and data giving us reason for every decision in the flow of a product or service. We are also innate relationship builders, that is essential in UX design – you need to connect with the user to keep them engaged and coming back”.

Colman Walsh, CEO of the The UX Design Institute agrees, saying:

“Feedback from our student base is that UX design focuses on the more human side of technology and offers an interesting blend of design and psychology which requires a lot of empathy for end-users.”

Jenny Featherson credits the Professional Diploma at the UX Design Institute for helping land her current role.

“I got my job off the back of me having an informal chat with the MD at a jobseekers event. My introductory conversation was that I had worked in UX principles for 20 years before I even knew that UX was a thing and I had the opportunity to study it in greater detail following redundancy.

“I always mention the fact that the course is credit-rated by Glasgow Caledonian University and that it’s a Professional Diploma. That gives me the level of confidence to be able to say to people I know this stuff and am committed to this as a career because I have this qualification. You wouldn’t be able to stand there and say that if you did a two-day workshop. It has definitely given me the confidence in my ability to know I have the skills to apply for jobs in the industry”.

The Professional Diploma is a six-month online course that teaches “the full UX process” through a number of modules and projects.

In terms of what makes UX an appealing career, Stephanie Bell says the variety is a very enjoyable aspect of her job.

“My days are always different. One day I can be working on user testing and competitor analysis, another day I could be at meetings with stakeholders, facilitating a workshop or presenting back final prototypes to a client”.

“Having a user-centred approach is key to the success of so many businesses. My role entails being able to be the voice of the user and see things from their perspective, which is really interesting”

As Stephanie points out, UX is a key skill, something that employers are starting to see on a wider basis with many looking to recruit employees with experience in this field.

Dara Boland, Associate Director at Global recruitment company Morgan McKinley, says:

“We’ve seen incredible growth in UX in the past five years with a threefold increase in the level of UX jobs we are being asked to service. This is largely due to many companies rapidly growing their UX design teams – in some cases by 20 to 30 people – and businesses with no previous design culture beginning to appreciate the need to have at least 1 to 2 talented UX designers on-site to remain competitive”.

A spokesperson for the UX Design Institute tells Her that the majority of students signing up to pursue the course are looking to upskill and in many cases, change career paths. The number of students who enrolled in the diploma course in March was 28 percent higher than forecast and new student numbers doubled weekly for the first two weeks of March.

Kim even says that if her daughters were considering a creative career, she would point them in the direction of UX. An impressive recommendation, if ever there was one!

“There are so many opportunities in the UX creative sector, it is far easier for women to rise in the ranks and fast too. With an increase in the ratio of women entering the industry, it reflects a growing appeal to women who are interested in making a career change into an industry that offers healthy salaries, long-range employability, and more flexibility”.