How to Become a UX Designer

Wondering how to become a UX designer? Once you’ve done your research and have committed to changing careers, here are the eight crucial steps you should take.

1. Build fundamental visual design skills
UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) design skills are not the same thing—but UX designers do need to have both. The reason for this is that many jobs now also include at least some UI design work, meaning that you need to have a baseline of visual design skills that enable you to create screen designs, logos, icons, and other visual elements. You can gain these fundamental skills in as little as eight weeks with our UX Academy Foundations course.

2. Learn UX design software
UX designers must express their ideas and vision for a project visually, through prototypes. Learning how to use software tools early on like Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD, will enhance your ability to communicate your design solutions and get you one step further on your UX learning journey. 

3. Gain UX design skills
There are a number of options for getting trained up in UX design skills, including: self-study, online courses, online bootcamps, offline bootcamps, and university study. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. We created our online UX Academy bootcamp as a middle way between the high cost of university courses, and the lack of accountability in self-study and passive online video courses.

4. Get feedback from mentors and peers
Get advice and feedback on your designs from someone who is several years ahead of you in their career. These mentors and peers can also be valuable in finding out the specific next steps you should take to get a job in your specific area of interest in UX.

5. Practice UX/UI design skills daily
Gain practice however you can: volunteer for UX projects in a current role; create mockups of improvements to apps you use; or help an acquaintance or local business with their app or website. These real-world projects will be valuable for your UX design portfolio. Pro Tip: Create projects with your ideal industry in mind (for example: if you want to work in the FinTech industry, create projects for FinTech products).

6. Create a UX design portfolio
Once you’ve completed your chosen path of study, it’s time to showcase some of your projects. These projects should showcase your ability to create great end results, analyze and define a problem, engage in research and idea generation, and develop a viable solution. By the end of our UX Academy program for example, you’ll have completed over 100 hands-on exercises, and built a portfolio with 4 substantial projects.

7. Network
Networking will be crucial in learning about and landing your first UX design job. Join online groups that focus on UX design, attend virtual meetings and events, subscribe to industry newsletters, participate in online forums, and ultimately focus on creating long-term relationships in the field by talking with other UX/UI designers. Pro Tip: As you learn UX design ideas and practice skills, write about it on Medium. Reflection is crucial as it can help reinforce what you’ve learned, and it will help you network with others in the UX design community.

8. Get ready for job interviews
Just as practice makes perfect when learning UX design skills, practicing for interviews is an important skill to focus on as well. Recruit a feedback friend, enlist the help of your mentor, or work with a Career Coach in UX Academy to practice interviewing.

With the help of mentors and career coaches, the Designlab community has produced some highly impressive portfolios. If you’d like help with your UX design portfolio, we encourage you to explore our UX Academy program, where you’ll be paired with a Career Coach to add extra polish to your portfolio, identify the right job opportunities for you, work on your interview skills together, and launch your new career!

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