Blog

Welcome to Unicornicopia

By: Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman

Welcome to Unicornicopia. The land of the generalists. This is the land where UX designers survive and thrive in our industry

Every hiring manager we interviewed said they need UX designers to have a holistic skill set. Designers need to be proficient in hard skills like:

  • Front-End Development: Coding valid HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery

  • Visual Design: Understanding the use of color, grid, layout, and typography

  • Mobile Integration: Creating consistent experiences through responsive layouts, touch interactions, and input techniques

  • Project Management: Incorporating iterative design, agile practices, and software development life cycles

  • Information Architecture: Planning experiences through site mapping, modelling, and wireframes

  • Interaction Design: Building flow, form design, micro-interactions, and transition animations

  • Copywriting and Content Strategy: Writing microcopy, content modelling, and content inventories

  • User Research: Conducting field research, usability studies, research synthesis, and data analysis

Hiring managers also need UX designers to have mastery of soft skills like:

  • Presenting: Sharing thoughts and design concepts with peers and stakeholders

  • Facilitating: Extracting design requirements and project direction from peers and stakeholders, while promoting a shared understanding

  • Critiquing: Receiving, giving, and training peers and stakeholders on constructive feedback

  • Storytelling: Communicating and affirming to peers and stakeholders how decisions were made, how principles were arrived at, and how the design will improve the lives of the users

  • Sketching: Communicating emerging design ideas quickly and exploring problem space with peers and stakeholders

  • Leadership: Providing vision, direction, and passion to peers and stakeholders

Companies need teams of generalists. A generalist (aka Unicorn) is someone who has equal expertise in most, or hopefully all, of these areas.

The good news: Hiring managers don’t always need UX designers to do everything at the same time. And even though UX designers are generalists, each UX designers can be slightly different shape and mold of a generalist. An effective design team will include UX designers who have different strengths and passions but each UX designer will have some proficiency in all hard and soft skills.