A straightforward plan to mastering UX Design, even if you have no prior experience.
UX design is a fascinating, growing field that’s present in almost every industry, from tech to healthcare. It’s also a field that’s very attractive to career-switchers who are looking for a job with inherent meaning and impact.
The good news is that UX design is extremely accessible as a career choice, regardless of whether or not you have prior design experience.
Here are a few ways to start building your knowledge of UX design:
1. Get familiar with the basics of UX design
UX—User Experience—design encompasses many different aspects of product design. User research, data analysis, wireframing, and design mockups are just a few of the typical tasks in the average UX design job description.
The simplest place to start learning UX is by becoming familiar with a general glossary of UX design terminology. These simple, yet illustrative, definitions will give you a more cohesive orientation that will be helpful moving forward.
2. Immerse yourself in design thought leadership
Basic terminology might help you understand what a UX designer does, but how do you develop the thought patterns and analytical skill set required to succeed in the field?
UX design relies heavily on analytical thinking and theories like user-centric and life-centered design. This is because UX design is as much about the process of arriving at usable solutions and helping the end user as it is about creating solid layouts and prototypes.
There are many UX design blogs that discuss the process behind good design, as well as engaging, thought-provoking podcasts like Design Better by InVision. The best starting point, however, might be the book The Design of Everyday Things, written by Don Norman, who is credited with first coming up with the phrase “User Experience Design” in the 1990s.
3. Learn how to use UX design tools
There are a suite of software tools commonly used by UX/UI designers that you’ll certainly need to become familiar with in order to create your interface designs. Figma, Sketch, and AdobeXD are three of the most popular for UX/UI design, and are fairly easy for beginners to pick up, even without prior design knowledge.
There are some UX design courses aimed at beginners, like UX Academy Foundations, which do include training on how to use interface design tools, which can be a helpful place to start when you’re ready to dive in.
4. Practice UX design
You could spend an entire lifetime reading about UX and learning how to use design software, but you’ll never be a designer unless you implement what you’ve learned.
A great place to start is by simply signing up for free online courses like Figma 101, which not only introduces you to the design software, but walks you through some basic exercises through practical homework assignments that you can do at your own pace.
If you’re not quite ready to dive into a formal design course or education after taking a free course or two, head over to AdobeXD’s creative challenges, which treat you to video design training and a community willing to offer feedback on your work.
There are also smaller introductory UX design online courses that are created to help you fast-track your “intro to UX design” skills so that you’re fully prepped and ready to apply for more intensive design programs.
5. Formal Learning Opportunities
At this point, you understand the basics and are feeling confident about your ability to create new work inside a tool like Figma, but you’re not sure how to level up and polish your skills to create a portfolio that stands out from fellow job applicants.
There are many traditional universities that do offer various types of design degrees. However, many career switchers—and those who already have university degrees—don’t have the time or budget to spend in a traditional educational setting.
Fortunately, education has become increasingly accessible: an intensive UX design bootcamp can help you be job ready in a matter of months, rather than the years required by traditional college programs. These online bootcamps focus solely on design and omit the extraneous curriculum requirements that often come with pursuing a full academic degree. Instead, the course materials focus entirely on topics relevant to the UX design process like user testing, creating wireframes, and designing interfaces for mobile apps.
What does it really take to land that first job as a UX designer, once you’ve graduated from a bootcamp or university program?
While each company and job description is unique, one of the best tools you can have is a strong portfolio of work that makes you stand out from other job applicants to prospective employers. Knowing what to put in a UX portfolio (as well as what to leave out) can mean the difference between landing that first interview and getting passed over.
In a world that’s increasingly run by tech automations, another way to stand out is by taking the time to network and connect with hiring managers or recruiters. A simple email invitation might be all it takes to move your application into the formal interview stage, no matter how many hundreds of applications were submitted before yours.
When in doubt, ask for feedback
Nothing good grows in a silo.
If you’ve put time and energy into learning user experience design but are struggling to land the next interview or grow in your UX career, reach out for help and advice.
If you’re a student of UX Academy, you will already have access to a specialized UX design career services, which connects you with a mentor who has years of experience with the hiring process. This personalized feedback is one of the best ways to help you pinpoint weak areas in your applications—as well as find solutions to improve them.
If you’re interested in learning UX, there are a wealth of blogs, free online courses, and design communities available. These free resources touch on everything from defining basic design terminology to user research methods to more advanced design thinking strategies.
For those who are serious about starting a career as a UX designer, you can dive deeper into your knowledge and practice of UX design in an intensive bootcamp experience, as well as build a professional portfolio to showcase your work.
Ready to go all-in and learn UX design? Check out our UX Academy course, designed to not only help students become strong designers, but also help them land their first job as a UX designer after graduation.