How to become a UX Manager
User Experience (commonly referred to as UX) is a specialism of digital design tipped to continue shaping the future of our world.
With the number of UX design jobs projected to jump to 100 million by 2050, the field’s exponential growth is increasing the demand for managers who can oversee all areas of UX.
In this blog, we explore the key traits of a UX Manager and uncover what it takes to work in a user experience leadership role.
What is UX design?
UX design is the process of creating practical and easy-to-use products or features (primarily in a digital environment) that meet consumer needs. Examples of UX can range from the placement of navigation buttons to the use of personalised notifications.
By improving the functionality of these products or features (e.g., on websites or mobile applications), it’s easier to generate positive impressions which can lead to better business performance and even improved sales.
The term ‘UX’ was first referenced by Don Norman in 1988, before he joined Apple as a User Experience Architect in the early 1990s – the first role of its kind. When reflecting on the term, he mentioned:
“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience.”
What is a UX Manager?
A UX Manager is the title given to those who work in user experience at a managerial level.
They typically oversee a team of User Experience Designers to ensure that users have a seamless journey and clearly understand the uses and functionalities of a product.
Their overarching goals are to deliver design solutions that meet both user and business needs, with performance measured by analytics such as the amount of time users spend on a page, the number of clicks, and in some cases, sales.
What does a UX Design Manager do?
A UX Design Manager leads the strategy behind creating intuitive, visual design solutions, and ensures their team are making the most user-friendly designs possible.
Typical responsibilities include:
- Leading user research initiatives to understand user or client needs.
- Undertaking usability testing to verify preliminary sketches before finalising wireframes.
- Creating and implementing innovative strategies that optimise business workflows and develop ways of working within their UX team.
- Overseeing sitemaps, prototypes, and wireframes developed with specialist software by User Experience Designers.
- Liaising with other stakeholders including fellow UX professionals, UI Design Managers, Web Development Managers and Creative Directors to drive business solutions.
What is UI design?
UI design is a shortened term for User Interface Design and refers to the visual design of a digital product. This is controlled by UI Designers who are responsible for creating visually on-brand and aesthetically pleasing products or features that meet the needs and expectations of users and clients.
What’s the difference between UX and UI design?
Whilst UX design focuses on how a digital product ‘feels’, UI design is concerned with a product’s visual design. For example, while UX might focus on improving the usability of a website, UI focuses on enhancing the graphics and imagery used on the page.
The purpose of UX and UI may be different, but they must be in sync to improve overall functionality.
What technical skills does a UX Manager need?
From a technical perspective, a UX Manager will need to familiarise themselves with specialist design software such as Adobe Creative Cloud – Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, Adobe XD, Canva, Figma and InVision. By doing so, managers will have a good understanding of the UK tools being used to create and optimise user experience.
What soft skills does a UX Manager need?
Similarly to all employees working at a supervisory level, a UX Manager needs a good leadership style to guide and mentor their team, alongside more specific soft skills such as:
- Analytical thinking – to examine user research and data, and identify what users are looking for in a product and the issues they may encounter.
- Problem-solving – to assess data and leverage that information to overcome challenges through UX.
- Creativity – to develop innovative solutions to business problems and create new strategies that drive growth.
- Communication – to collaborate with other senior leaders and stakeholders.
What is the average UX Design Manager salary?
Organisations are always looking for top talent to improve their user experience, so salaries are lucrative.
According to Glassdoor, the average yearly UX Design Manager salary in the UK is £56,258 with the potential to grow to £83,000 for those with plenty of experience (as of January 2023).
Where’s the best place to search for UX Design Manager jobs?
UX Design Managers are in high demand. Among traditional jobsites such as Indeed.com and LinkedIn, UX design jobs can also be found on websites such as UX Jobs Board and Dribbble which are tailored specifically to UX Design.
Alongside the method of submitting a traditional application, it’s beneficial to build a UX portfolio that highlights design skills and showcases previous pieces of work before reaching out to employers directly for opportunities.
Study Digital Design and Communication online with the University of Leeds
If you are looking to become a UX Manager, study Digital Design and Communication online with the University of Leeds. The course will help you upskill and enhance your career by exploring areas such as web design, usability testing and more. You’ll study and network with like-minded UX professionals and leading academics at the Leeds School of Design to prepare yourself for some of the most in-demand user experience jobs in the industry.
Demonstrate Your Expertise as a Digital Design Professional with an innovative online Masters in Digital Design and Communication.
Did you enjoy this blog? Here's some related digital design and communication content that you may be interested in:
Want to learn more about our online Digital Design and Communication Masters?