How Sales, Marketing, and HR Skills Apply To UX Design
In this article
UX designers wield creativity and logic to solve impactful, real-world problems. This meaningful, exciting work is also well-compensated, and with a median base salary of $90,881, it’s no wonder that the role of UX designer landed on Glassdoor’s list of the 50 Best Jobs In America for 2021.
If you want to pivot into UX design, the job outlook is favorable. According to the 2022 LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise list, UX researcher was the 8th fastest-growing job title over the past five years. More broadly, LinkedIn’s 2021 Jobs on the Rise Report observed a growing demand for hires across a variety of UX roles—and noted that the total number of UX designer hires grew 5x over the course of just a year.
Digital transformation has left no industry untouched, boosting demand for UX professionals to optimize user experiences with platforms that mediate work, socializing, commerce, and other vital aspects of everyday life. Digitization has also enabled consumers to broadcast their experiences with a brand or product through social media, and 73% of customers say that experience influences their purchasing decisions more than price or product quality.
Today, customer experience is king—and UX is a key component of customer experience. As such, customer experience (CX) professionals from sales, marketing, or HR backgrounds will find that many of their existing skills apply to a career in UX design. Read on to learn more about how these fields overlap.
What Are Sales and Marketing?
Sales and marketing are closely aligned business functions that work together to drive revenue growth. Marketing strives to generate leads by building an audience for a brand, product, or service, while sales focuses on converting those leads into customers. Successful sales and marketing techniques require a thorough understanding of customer wants, needs, and behaviors.
A robust marketing strategy will increase brand awareness, create high-quality leads, establish thought leadership status, and build value for customers. An effective sales strategy will boost conversions by demonstrating how a product alleviates critical customer pain points. Sales and marketing professionals use customer-centric approaches to create value for customers.
What Is UX Design?
UX design strives to optimize the end user’s experience of interacting with a product. Excellent UX design elevates ease of use, allowing users to intuitively achieve goals or complete tasks with minimal effort. UX design is user-centric and empathy-driven—user motivations and pain points guide design decisions. A truly exemplary user experience will deliver both usability and delight, leaving the user with an overall feeling of satisfaction.
UX designers conduct user research, develop user personas, determine the information architecture of a product, create low-fidelity wireframes and high-fidelity prototypes, and facilitate product testing. The goal of UX design is to generate positive experiences that keep users engaged with a product. Strong UX design can help retain customers, build brand loyalty, and thereby contribute to a company’s bottom line.
What Do Sales and Marketing and UX Design Have in Common?
These distinct fields share a common focus: consumer needs. Sales and marketing professionals and UX designers use overlapping methodologies to understand their target audiences to enhance engagement and boost conversions. Here’s where sales and marketing skills and UX design skills converge.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Sales and marketing professionals and UX designers use similar research techniques to analyze user and customer behavior.
UX designers use research to inform design decisions and address usability issues. Qualitative UX research investigates user attitudes and behaviors through observational field studies, user interviews, focus groups, and diary studies. These qualitative methods reveal how users experience a product and why users run into specific usability issues.
Quantitative UX research analyzes the scale of usability issues and measures the efficacy of design decisions. User testing and evaluation of analytics like clicks, drop-off percentages, and conversion rates are data-driven techniques used to quantify a product’s success or shortcomings.
Sales and marketing professionals use similar methods to assess product awareness, evaluate demand, improve advertising strategies, and understand target audiences. Qualitative research provides insight into customer motivations, while quantitative research identifies trends in customer behavior at scale.
Like UX designers, sales and marketing professionals use qualitative research methods such as interviews and customer observations to understand customer concerns and explore how consumers experience a product. Quantitative research methods like mass surveys and polls allow sales and marketing professionals to collect and analyze large volumes of data that reveal important patterns in customer interactions with a product.
Get To Know Other Design Students
UX professionals also conduct UX research to create user personas, which are fictionalized profiles that summarize the attitudes, goals, and backgrounds of each segment of a product’s user base. UX personas help UX designers create personalized experiences that anticipate user needs, alleviate user pain points, and boost engagement.
Using similar techniques, sales and marketing professionals create customer personas to capture the demographic and psychographic details of each segment of their target audience. Customer personas help marketers effectively tailor the content, messaging, and placement of advertising campaigns to attract high-value prospects, and enable salespeople to identify and focus on qualified leads.
Well-crafted user and buyer personas are vital to any successful UX or CX strategy. These personas help both UX designers and sales and marketing professionals get closer to consumers—and whoever gets closer to consumers wins.
UX designers and sales and marketing professionals use journey mapping to visualize the process by which users and customers interact with a brand, product, or service.
User journey maps, also known as customer journey maps, are widely used in both UX and CX contexts to understand how customers build relationships with a product over time. Journey maps pinpoint customer interactions across all touchpoints—which include a brand’s website, social media, ads, reviews, exchanges with employees, and other instances in which a brand can make an impression on a customer.
These interactions are charted chronologically, creating a timeline of user interactions that is expanded to include emotions, thoughts, and pain points that customers experience at each touchpoint. The overall goal is to create a visual narrative explaining a customer’s journey with a product, but that process will look different across various segments of a product’s audience—which is why journey maps are tailored to individual user or customer personas.
UX designers and sales and marketing professionals rely on user journeys to find out how customers view a product or brand. UX designers apply these insights to product development, marketers and salespeople harness this information to optimize advertising and sales strategies.
What Do HR and UX Design Have in Common?
Human resource professionals strive to create positive corporate cultures via human-centric policies and programs. HR departments oversee recruitment, hiring, training, performance management, organizational development, and allocation of compensation and benefits.
Because the quality of customer experience depends highly on employee satisfaction, organizations rely on HR professionals to build positive experiences for employees. Like UX designers, HR professionals are responsible for delivering a product (in this case, a positive company culture) that meets human needs.
According to UX designer Jonathan Litty and HR advisor Pauline Garric, their respective disciplines develop solutions via similar human-centered processes.
Garric describes her work in HR as an iterative process resembling the UX product development cycle. She starts with research to identify candidates that meet company requirements, initiates recruitment, onboards new hires, and strives to retain employees and help them grow. She then repeats the cycle equipped with more insights about candidate and employee needs.
This approach mirrors Litty’s UX design process, which begins with user and market research, progresses to ideation, advances to prototyping, and arrives at the construction of the product itself—with iterative improvements to enhance the product and retain users.
In this way, HR professionals design employee experiences, and the iterative solution development skills used to do so carry over to the field of user experience design.
How Sales, Marketing, and HR Soft Skills Apply to UX Design
Sales, marketing, and HR professionals share a crucial set of soft skills that UX designers need, including:
Marketers need sharp written communication skills to hone campaign messages, while salespeople must be well-versed in the art of persuasion to effectively convert leads. HR personnel must also deploy keen communication skills to recruit candidates, negotiate with employees, and communicate a company’s cultural expectations.
Communication is also key to effective UX design. To create a successful product, UXers must be able to actively listen to user concerns in order to evaluate pain points and identify user needs. Furthermore, UX design is a collaborative process that requires designers to effectively communicate ideas and concepts to fellow team members.
Ability To Empathize
Empathy enables sales and marketing professionals to step into the shoes of leads and customers and adjust their sales and advertising strategies accordingly. HR professionals must empathize with workers in order to build a company culture that satisfies employee needs and supports high retention rates. Empathy is also the foundation of design thinking, which is a strategy that UX designers use to develop creative solutions to user problems. UX designers must empathize with user needs, goals, and emotions to create seamless, empowering products.
Capacity To Balance Multiple Stakeholders
Salespeople and marketers must integrate input from business leaders, customers, and product developers to create cohesive sales and marketing strategies. Similarly, HR managers must reconcile conflicting interests of executives and workers in order to create a satisfactory employee experience that also nurtures business goals.
UX designers must also balance the interests and input of end-users, investors, upper-level managers, shareholders, and other members of the product development team. Like sales, marketing, and HR professionals, UX designers must diplomatically demonstrate the value of their ideas to win buy-in from other stakeholders and move projects forward.
Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in UX design? Rise to the top of the CV pile when you enroll in our UX Bootcamp—you’ll get a UX job or your tuition money back. Take a look at our student reviews and test out our free UX curriculum to get a feel for our style and results. TL;DR: average starting salaries for our students = $85,440. Let’s do this.