SGUnited skills programmme: Digital marketing or UI/UX?

SGUnited skills programmme Digital marketing or UIUX

2020 has been an undeniably challenging year. The COVID19 pandemic has brought about wide-ranging effects, with job losses being a direct economic impact experienced by countries across the globe. As part of the Singapore government’s initiatives to mitigate the effects of the pandemic to the economy, the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package was created to tackle workforce-related challenges.

One of the initiatives under the package is the SGUnited Skills Programme, which is a full-time training programme ranging from a period of 6 to 12 months to improve the employability of trainees during this period. Courses under the programme have been introduced progressively since July 2020, and the programme will be conducted in a modular format to ensure that trainees can transition to employment should they be able to secure one. Eligible trainees will receive a training stipend to cover basic subsistence expenses and these courses cover a wide spectrum of industries.

For individuals who come from a non-technological background and would like to venture into the technology industry, several tech-light roles are offered, and we will be breaking down two of these roles for your consideration.

Digital marketing

Despite the internet causing a major shift in communications from print to digital media, the crux of marketing remains the same – to create, communicate, deliver, and exchange products/services that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. 

With most communications now taking place in the digital space, there is an obvious need for businesses and marketing professionals to equip themselves with the tools and trends brought about by the internet. Hence, digital marketing encompasses the entirety of marketing efforts across electronic devices and the internet. These include search engines, social media, email, and other websites to reach out to current and future consumers.

As a digital marketer, some of the key skills to have or learn include (but are not limited to) search engine optimization (SEO), and marketing across social media channels (eg. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok).

Think of the internet as a really thick textbook which holds information about anything and everything ever posted. When searching for a particular topic in a textbook, one would usually go to the very last pages where the index would point out the particular page in which the topic can be found.

This index is akin to what a search engine is (eg. Google, Yahoo, Bing) and the topic’s page is akin to a website. Due to the sheer number of websites hosted on the worldwide web, it is impossible for search engines to just recommend one website to a particular search query. Hence, a list of recommended websites is provided instead, with the top 10 being the most “optimized” to the particular query.

In precis, SEO can be described simply as the ease in which a search engine can identify a website as the best-recommended resource for a query. Therefore, as a digital marketer, understanding how SEO works is critical as it ensures that the product/service being marketed online reaches the target audience.

Over 3.6 billion users worldwide use social media and this number is expected to grow with increasing internet penetration. Understandably, businesses would want to capitalize on this by reaching out to their audiences, growing their brand, and increase website visits – all in a bid to boost sales.

To do so, digital marketers would need to be well-versed in the nuances that different social media platforms have to form up an effective social media strategy. Some of these strategies involve listening and engagement, which is to keep an eye on conversations surrounding their brand, and responding to trends/comments, as well as coming up with an editorial calendar which schedules when and what type of content is to be posted in the future. Ultimately, the effectiveness of these strategies is measured with help of social media marketing tools through data analytics.

UI/UX design

One of the most common misunderstandings about UI/UX design is that the two terms – User Interface and User Experience – are one and the same. Although they are both important and complementary skills, there are clear distinctions between UI and UX.

It is well established within the industry that Don Norman and Jacob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group (NNg) are considered to be the pioneers of UX – the former having coined the term during his time at Apple, and the latter being the “king of usability”.

Nielsen Norman Group defines UX as encompassing all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products. At the crux of it all, a good UX would accurately meet the needs of the customer, with the product/service designed in a way that is simple yet elegant and brings joy to the customer.

To that end, the key skills that a UX Designer would have (but are not limited to) are wireframing, creating user personas, customer journey maps, and conducting usability testing. The role would also benefit from good communication skills as UX Designers are the bridge between various stakeholders (ie users, developers, UI Designers). Given that users are at the core of their work, UX Designers would need to have a great deal of empathy to not only understand users’ needs/motivations but frustrations as well.

UI Designers, on the other hand, are focused on the visual aspect of the product (eg. app, website). This includes visual elements across all screens that the user interacts with (eg. colours, pictures, animations, transitions, buttons). Therefore, the skills repertoire that UI Designers would have include colour theory, typography, expertise in using prototyping tools for iteration of low- to high-fidelity mockups, and creating design systems.

With economies preparing for Industry 4.0, UI/UX Design has particularly gained plenty of traction of late as businesses begin to comprehend the importance of UI/UX in their product/service. As such, although it is not ideal, it is not unusual to see roles which are a hybrid of the two with companies looking for a wide-ranging skill repertoire that primary include prototyping tools such as Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma, and Invision. Other complementary skills would include a working knowledge of graphic design tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as front-end languages such as HTML, CSS and Javascript. Such occurrences are common amongst startups who are trying to stretch their resources, as well as organisations which are warming up to UI/UX practices.

It is noteworthy to mention, however, that hiring practices in the UI/UX field place emphasis on an individual’s portfolio. Additionally, organisations with a strong design culture where UX and UI are distinct roles would likely be more discerning in the skills they are hiring for. 

To conclude, although the nation is preparing for Industry 4.0, the strong push for digitalisation and re-skilling is not exclusive to technically heavy roles. Individuals from non-technology backgrounds who are keen to explore/transition to the technology industry can consider tech-light roles such as digital marketing and UI/UX design.

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