Ah, yep got it (I think). Added some comments below:
> You work in a fast paced agile environment, collaborating closely with product managers and software engineers.
> You gather data insights to formulate strategic design decisions during all phases of the product development life cycle.
This sounds like a lot of consulting – which is fine, this is exactly what I do half the time. It will require you to be a skilled communicator, as well as toe the line between compromise and tenacity. By that I mean you need to push to protect the interests of your users, but at the same time know how to pick your battles and see the bigger picture. With any luck, your development and strategic teams will be receptive to user-led development. But know that you’ll still be fighting with budgetary and technical constraints.
> You learn from senior-level designers, who provide you with regular coaching and mentorship to develop your skills in research and design.
Research and design could mean almost anything! But at least research is on the table. You’d be surprised how much companies ‘forget’ to include the research element.
> You effectively balance applying creative ideation to business challenges in order to build intuitive, easy-to-use products.
> You bring a fresh perspective, new ideas, and an awesome attitude to the UX team.
> You gather data insights to create customer profiles, define customer journeys, and build out information architecture.
This sounds like UX! I’d recommend looking into learning about how to create personas and user journey maps.
As regards information architecture, I can’t go without mentioning the IA bible from O’Reilly. It really is a great resource. Learning about techniques such as card sorting and treejacking will also help a lot with testing and iterating taxonomies you create.
> You conduct usability testing, survey designs, user interviews, data analysis, heuristic evaluations, exploratory research methods, and other modern research practices.
> You analyze research data and articulate findings through effective storytelling amongst your design and business partners.
This is all good stuff. I would pick up Rocket Surgery made easy as in initial toe-in-the-water for user testing.
Perhaps also look into UX/HCI classes because they will also cover topics relevant to user research, e.g.:
- Lab testing (tasks, measurement, discussion guides)
- Interview skills (how to ask unbiased questions, and how to actively listen)
- Field research and ethnography
- Remote studies
- Rapid prototyping and low-fidelity testing
- Survey/questionnaire design
- Eye-tracking (but avoid it’s budget cousin, mouse tracking)
- Google analytics and other quantitative metrics
- Qualitative analysis and reporting (turning a bunch of observations into ‘findings’)
You can find HCI / UX classes on sites like Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera, though there are probably many more.
Scott Klemmer the speaker on these videos used to have an incredible HCI course, and I believe the two courses listed above are the spiritual successors.
> You utilize industry standard design tools to create user interfaces, customer interactions, and interactive prototypes.
‘Industry standard’ could mean a lot of things. Which is good, because it gives you the freedom to pick the best tools for the job rather than adhere to company preferences.
In terms of helpful tools, I’d recommend looking into:
- Morae (recording ux sessions)
- Hotjar (surveys and remote recording)
- Google analytics
- Smaply (user journey mapping and persona creation)
- join.me (for screensharing)
- Optimal workshop (card sorting / tree jacking, amongst other stuff)
- Axure (creating deeply interactive prototypes)
- Sketch / Figma / Adobe XD (wireframing, creating mock-ups)
- Photoshop and Illustrator (for detailed designs, image tweaks etc.)
- Sublime / Codepen / you IDE of choice (for tinkering with code whereever it’s needed)
- Snagit (for screenshots, quick image manip, and video recording)
- Word/Excel (for reports and quant analysis, and tons more. I love excel.)
In terms of online courses, my memory is failing me, but here’s a few helpful ones off the top of my head:
Scott Klemmer again in the first two.
The Lynda course is an anthology of bite-sized design lessons. I adore that channel and it will teach you a lot of cool tricks and psychological quirks you can utilise in your designs.
The third is useful only if you are interested in ever learning some code. I thought I never would, but since learning a superficial amount of html/css/JS, my communication with developers has improved immeasurably. It’s not crucial, but it will give you a boost if you aren’t that familiar with the inner machinations of the web.
> You are continuously improving your UI design skills and you contribute to establishing and maintaining style guides and pattern libraries.
> You have a strong curiosity when it comes to using new tools, adopting new technology, and learning new UX methods that will progress your professional development.
These are both pretty standard UX requirements.
As for libraries, many tools now have some aspect of library control or pattern creation in-built. The important thing to know is that you’ll be managing (adding, updating, deprecating) design ‘patterns’ and chunks of UI code across your digital estate. This is good because it provides consistency for your users, as well as expediting development and design.
As for the second point, it’s important that you keep a finger on the pulse of the digital scene. For instance, it may not appear that deep learning, or voice interface or ‘internet of things’ is relevant to most sectors right now. But keeping an eye on that stuff will help you innovate ways to meet your users needs.
In terms of your own tools, it’s helpful to be aware of new JS frameworks, or prototyping tools for example.
> You have a digital portfolio that demonstrates user-centered research and design practices.
> You’re smart and you have a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or certification in Design, Technology, or a related field to show for it.
> You have 2+ years of UX experience.
> You can put us in contact with 2 references who can tell us how awesome you are.
Regarding a ‘portfolio’, this freaks a lot of people out – but ultimately it can be as simple as case studies which demonstrate when you have identified, explored, solved, tested, and iterated a user problem. You can probably think of many examples of this amongst your time as a sysadmin. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an interface-related issue, although I’m sure there have been many!
If you get the chance, you could have a go at doing a pseudo-UX project of ‘redesigning’ your company homepage. Interview a few users, recognise some issues, then present some ideas for improvements. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just enough to demonstrate your process, and something to talk through at interview.
Regarding you references, I’d pick people who can talk about your empathy, problem solving, and dispute resolution, since all of these elements are critical for UX work.