Top 9 Essential Soft Skills for UI/UX Designers

The profession of UI and UX designers becomes more and more popular nowadays, and lots of people decide to get knowledge in this sphere to obtain an opportunity to apply for an exciting and lucrative job. However, most courses suggested in the market usually teach hard skills and avoid the topic of soft skills needed for the profession.

Let us have a closer look at the primary soft skills essential for UX and UI designers if they want to be successful.

The Difference Between Hard and Soft Skills

Although it is clear that these skills are absolutely different, sometimes people still feel confused as the topic of soft skills is not popular. Hard skills are the ones that are closely connected with the knowledge of the profession, while soft skills mainly relate to personality.

For example, if we talk about UX and UI designers, the primary skills will be divided like this:

hard skills: user research, wireframing, prototyping, information architecture
soft skills: communication, flexibility, openness to criticism, creativity

Undoubtedly, it is vitally important to get in-depth knowledge about the profession and acquire hard skills needed for the job. However, it is also essential to improve soft skills and be ready to deepen into the career comprehensively. Let us have a closer look at some soft skills that are essential for UI and UX designers.

Why Soft Skills Are Important for Designers

Well, why soft skills are essential, and why the employees usually underestimate them?

Soft skills are usually viewed as ones related to emotional intelligence. They are closely connected with personality and can affect communication and social interaction. These skills are vital as they help work with others efficiently and become more professional in your work sphere.

Some top soft skills that can be applied to various areas are:

  • networking
  • communication
  • teamwork
  • negotiating

and others.

However, this article is devoted to emphasizing 9 soft skills that, to our mind, are essential for UI and UX designers.

They are:

  • communication
  • creativity
  • passion and drive
  • flexibility
  • ability to take criticism
  • critical thinking
  • teamwork
  • storytelling
  • active learning

Top Soft Skills for User Experience Designers


It’s one of the main skills vital for diverse spheres. Although communication is an integral part of life, lots of employers complain that it is challenging to communicate with designers, especially when it comes to freelancers.

They could be the best workers, but lack of communication with employers and colleagues makes it impossible to get a desired final product on time. The quality of work also suffers, and the avoidance of consulting the project with co-workers leads to even worse results.

It seems that UX and UI designers can easily create and device unimaginable interfaces without any help; however, collaboration and teamwork definitely help to invent something unique and extraordinary.


One of the most critical skills for designers, undoubtedly. Indeed, all designers are usually inspired by their colleagues’ outstanding works as well as by new trends that are popular nowadays. However, only the ability to think out of the box and design something brand-new and extraordinary makes those who aren’t afraid of innovations to stand out among a crowd.

It is vitally important to stay updated, learn from famous designers, and continuously check what trends are prevalent nowadays. Luckily, it is relatively easy today as various resources offer the latest information in this sphere. For example, you can check the review of popular trends in UI design, take creative challenges, or find out about the most popular customer experience trends for digital products nowadays.

Being a designer actually means continuous learning and the ability to look at issues from various angles. If you feel that you are out of ideas, just search for inspiration and find out the latest trends.

Passion and Drive

Being a designer means looking for inspiration and finding new approaches to the same things non-stop. If someone does not feel enthusiastic about the job, especially when it comes to creative professions, he will barely succeed in the sphere.

Designers usually state that when they choose this profession, they follow their hearts. They undoubtedly understand that such a job may include odd hours, tricky workloads, and lots of criticism from employers and colleagues.

The main thing that lets them go further and continue their journey in this field is passion. They desire to learn more, adapt to various situations, and always mention that a successful designer should be driven from the start as it gives a chance to move forward even if you feel exhausted and ready to give up.


Well, as this profession is full of creativity and changes, you have to be flexible and easily adapt to new trends. It is impossible to stick to one style or think that you have learned everything already.
Being a designer means being ready to continuously improve your skills and knowledge. Moreover, you should be prepared for:

  • taking extra responsibilities
  • working on various types of projects
  • changing companies and colleagues
  • relocating
  • changes in your shifts

The ability to accept these changes and adapt to them quickly helps designers to concentrate on the profession rather than think about some challenges they need to overcome daily.

Ability to take criticism

It is undoubtedly difficult to accept any criticism when it comes to creativity. However, it is a vital thing as it helps to improve skills and gain new knowledge. The main idea is to learn how not to take constructive criticism too personally.

When somebody judges your work, it does not mean that the person wants to offend you. The best idea is to abstract and looks at your creation from a different angle.

  • You need to understand that the person is not talking about you. It is your work that is discussed, not your personality
  • Try to find good sides. Yes, it is tough to accept that your project is not perfect, but considering all the notes will help you to improve it
  • Analyze all the comments and write them down to review with a cooler head later

There are lots of articles giving hints on how to take criticism without taking it personally. But they all reveal that if you want to become a successful and outstanding specialist, you need to be ready to listen to others’ ideas and thoughts and implement various approaches to solving issues.

Critical thinking

This skill is connected with problem-solving and helps to evaluate issues and find ways of dealing with them. Designers have diverse problems regularly, and the ability to analyze the information and choose the right methods for solving issues is definitely a vital skill.

Critical thinking leads to mental analyzing and testing methods and helps decide what to choose in a particular situation before trying to apply it in reality.

There are three stages:

  • Observe
  • Question
  • Answer

In the first stage, all the information is collected and viewed from different angles. The problem is defined, and previous approaches to solving it are taken into consideration.

In the second stage, we start to ask questions about the situation and possible ways of solving the issues. The right questions will help move to the third stage, during which we usually find answers and solutions.

Critical thinking allows designers to view the problems from different angles, understand how various solutions can work, and choose the best solution that will lead to the creation of outstanding projects.


More and more people prefer to work alone, especially when it comes to freelancers. Undoubtedly, it seems comfortable to create new things staying at home and enjoying silence and tranquility. However, working in a team gives more chances for self-development and improvement as it helps to get more knowledge from your colleagues.

Teamwork has various advantages and is really important for those who are early in their careers as:

  • working in a team gives a chance to get support and encouragement from colleagues that will motivate to work harder
  • it creates a friendly atmosphere and helps to improve interpersonal skills
  • it disciplines and organizes workers as working alone leads to procrastination quite often
  • it allows looking at the solutions from various angles and, as a result, leads to better projects

So, even if you are a free agent, you need to know that teamwork plays a huge role. Working at home gives you lots of freedom, but even being a freelancer, you are still the one who is a part of the team. Designers need to stay in touch with other team members, and they surely need to know how to work with others efficiently.


Each design has a story behind it. The ability to focus on emotional impact and outcome helps to attract customers and make your brand unique and outstanding.

Although it seems easy to create a story, in reality, lots of designers use narrative structure, forgetting that a brand story doesn’t need any beginning or end. Mastering storytelling skills may help to make your customers loyal and let them choose your product, among others, as the design that evokes feelings always win.

If you want to be a professional, you need to devote more time to practice and learn how to improve storytelling so that your design will have a visual component and deep meaning between the lines.

Active learning

It is impossible to deny that the world has changed dramatically, and almost all spheres require continuous learning and getting new knowledge regularly. When it comes to creative professions and especially to the ones connected with technology, it is evident that if someone wants to be successful, he has to follow the trends and stay updated.

It is naive to think that your background will always help you stay afloat as new designs are showing up regularly. The best idea for designers is to learn from others, check trends, draw inspiration from great websites, and attend diverse courses that will help to get useful skills.

To conclude, soft skills are usually underestimated by employees. Lots of designers believe that professional background is the main thing needed for being a great worker. However, more and more employers mention that they are looking for those who possess soft skills and want to improve them regularly.

The ability to take criticism, work in a team, adapt to various situations quickly, and be ready to view the issues from diverse angles are the main things for creating outstanding projects. Designers should understand that their profession is the one that requires active and continuous learning; that is why it is necessary to have the passion and be flexible as the trends are changing fast. If you feel that you are out of ideas, try different useful sources such as podcasts, online courses, and blogs.

About the author: Nadezhda Maksimova, copywriter and customer support representative for Icons8

Illustrations in the article from the Clip pack on Ouch library of vector illustrations. Title image from the Abstract pack on Ouch library of vector illustrations.

Learn more about the job of UX designers and graphic designers, read how to design effective emails, and check how interface illustrations enhance user experience.

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