A career as a UX analyst would suit you if you enjoy combining creative and analytical skills and have an interest in design, psychology, research and coding
User Experience (UX) roles involve delivering the best possible experience for the user of a website, with the aim of making the website as straightforward to use as possible.
UX analyst roles cross over with, and can be known as, UX designer and UX architect.
The term UX analyst arises as the role involves a lot of analysis of users' behaviours and preferences in order to create the best experience for the user. As a UX analyst you will look at the content of websites, and also the design elements, such as colours and images.
Within some companies you'll focus on research skills and psychology, in others you'll concentrate on design and in some you'll fulfil a more technical IT role.
As a UX analyst, you'll need to:
- meet clients to gather information about their requirements and to find out what needs researching, designing or usability testing;
- be involved in sketching, prototyping and on occasion user testing, before passing the design onto the development team;
- understand qualitative research methods;
- have an awareness of costs and budgets;
- put users at the centre of a design, to make it simple, easy to use and good looking;
- be confident in your presentation skills in order to present the stages of the design development to business users;
- work closely within a multidisciplinary team, including web developers and programmers;
- have technical knowledge to be able to explain what needs doing, to programmers;
- ensure websites comply with the law and equal opportunities policies.
- Starting salaries for UX analysts are in the region of £20,000 to £25,000.
- Experienced UX analysts can earn between £28,000 and £32,000.
- With ten or more years' experience, UX analysts can earn £42,000 to £47,000 or more.
Depending on your level of experience, a freelance UX analyst can earn between £250 and £500 per day.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are generally office hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday), but can involve weekend and evening work to meet deadlines.
Short-term contracts, part-time work and freelance opportunities are all available.
What to expect
- The job offers an interesting variety of tasks. If you're the single UX specialist on a team, which is often the case, you'll have a range of duties and responsibilities.
- You will usually be based in an office, though may have to attend client meetings at their offices. Opportunities also exist internationally.
- The dress code tends to be relaxed and informal, with the focus instead being on creating work of the expected standard and delivering on time.
- User experience is a growing area, with an increasing number of roles being created for graduates.
There are a variety of entry routes into a career as a UX analyst. Entry via a degree is common, though it is possible to enter with equivalent on-the-job experience.
There is no one single degree required to become a UX analyst, with relevant degrees including:
- computing science;
- human-centred interaction;
- research methods;
- web design and development.
A Masters in human-centred interaction can be considered useful and relevant, though not essential, and Masters courses are also on offer in the linked field of user experience design.
Knowledge and experience tend to be the most important requirements. Along with this and qualifications, employers also look for a strong portfolio, showing examples of work. These could include wireframes you have created, scenarios you have developed or photos of you leading a workshop. Your portfolio could be online or in PDF format and should support you talking through the UX process during an interview.
You will need to have a mixture of creative and technical skills.
Relevant soft skills include:
- excellent team working skills;
- verbal communication skills, as you present your research findings and the reasons behind your design decisions;
- strong written communication skills are also vital as you may be involved in writing copy for the website;
- creativity and innovation, to come up with new ideas;
- enthusiasm for design and technology is important.
The extent of technical skills required varies between employers but generally includes:
- prototyping software tools, for example Axure Pro and Omnigraffle;
- Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop.
Some of the degrees relevant for a career in UX include a year in industry or a work placement, which is a great way to build up experience. Internships, either during your degree or afterwards, are also available.
It is advisable to try and get some work experience, especially if your degree is not directly related to the role of UX analyst. Other ways to develop experience include doing your own user research on websites. Get involved in extracurricular projects, such as 'hackathons' or company competitions, and work alongside fellow students with different specialisms to you. Attend meet-ups, conferences and workshops for the UX community.
Sending speculative applications to companies asking for work experience or work shadowing can be a useful way to find out more about the role and to see which area you would prefer to enter. This is also a great way to build up contacts.
UX is a growth area with UX analysts working in virtually every industry. This includes the media, digital marketing agencies, telecommunications companies, banks, web development agencies and retail. Positions exist in the public and private sector, multi-national companies and SMEs.
While the daily rate for freelancers can be appealing, the work can be more unpredictable and your income can be more unsteady.
Find out more about opportunities through social media. Follow thought leaders on Twitter and identify people working in the UX field through LinkedIn.
Look for job vacancies at:
UX analysts starting their careers receive the majority of their training through bespoke online courses, independent research and self-led learning, as well as from more experienced professionals who they are working alongside.
Online courses include human-computer interaction and web usability.
UX analysts will look to develop skills in UX methodologies, including surveys and usability testing. You are also likely to develop increasing expertise in Adobe Creative Suite, as well as Sketch and Axure.
Depending on your focus, you may also take courses in, or self-learn, technical skills such as HTML and CSS. If your emphasis is on the usability testing aspects, then you may focus your research on psychology.
Within the UX community there are many conferences and meet ups, which is another great way to develop professionally. You can learn more about what others are doing in the industry and there are opportunities to be mentored.
The UX field is constantly evolving so an interest in keeping up to date with the latest software and devices is important.
UX analysts starting their careers may begin in a junior, trainee or graduate UX role. Promotion to the position of UX analyst can be possible in as little as two years. With more experience, typically around five to ten years, you could progress to being a senior UX analyst, lead UX analyst, UX manager, head of user experience, or UX business analyst.
Within these roles, you will take the lead and facilitate workshops with business and technical stakeholders, and work on larger, more complex projects. You may also have responsibility for managing junior UX analysts and junior UX designers. In small and medium-sized companies, where you are potentially the only UX specialist, there may not be a specific new role to progress to, but as your knowledge and skills increase so should your level of responsibility and pay.
It can also be possible to make sideways moves, and focus more on particular aspects of UX, such as psychology or design. Some UX analysts move into roles such as business analyst or UX consultant.