It’s not surprising that many have decided to upskill and make the move into the app arena, as this is where we are seeing much investment and exciting design jobs allocated. There are a number of skills required to be an app designer in any environment, and today we are going to cover what those key competencies are and why. It is also worth noting that this is a fast-moving industry, and skills required today may be less practical tomorrow as the industry pivots to whatever is most effective.
User Experience (UX)
If you are not designing for the user, you have already missed the mark. This is a skill that is paramount to the industry, as user experience is one of the key metrics that an app is assessed on and it will determine how often that app is used – if it is engaged with at all. User experience roles can be hands-on or advisory, but ultimately they are tasked with governing how a user interacts with the app and to what degree that is an easy and enjoyable experience. You have probably experienced this when you have been on a website or app that has a cool feature that keeps you playing with it for longer than you anticipated.
General digital designers find the transition into app design quite easy as they already possess those design principles. These are a series of theories and frameworks that influence how they design. This knowledge is also backed up with experience using design software and specialized programs that would take a new user quite a while to master. This includes the Adobe Suite, Sketch, and any other programs that are critical to app development.
Coding & Technical Language
Coding is not an essential skill depending on your role in a design team, but it will certainly make life easier for you if you can jump in and fix a problem yourself or collaborate on an issue. At the bare minimum, you will need to understand the technical language that is dictated to you so that you can support the app development. For example, if your technical lead says that there is a design fault in the cPanel – you will need to know where you are going to diagnose and correct this fault. Now before you start cramming to learn code, note that designers and app design agencies all use different platforms, so don’t over-invest in learning one platform and its coding basics.
Data Engineering & Application
Another great skill that an app designer needs is the ability to discern what the data is telling them and then make changes based on those insights. Apps can collect a lot of information, and we have the capability to see who used the app, why they stopped, and so many data points that can influence an update or better user experience. There are university degrees required to be in a data engineer position, but basic analytics experience will be required as an app designer so that you have a metric in which to test your work – in whatever capacity you are bringing to the table. Different app agencies will have different ways of assessing data and how often that assessment takes place, so do your best to understand what is possible from data extrapolation.
The skills discussed here today are not exhaustive, but they are the overarching abilities that will transcend trends and programs. Another great way to work out what the role requires is to read job ads so that you can better understand what skills future employers are seeking directly.