How to Become a UX Designer
So you want to become a UX Designer? Great choice! We’ve got all the secrets. But before we get to the good stuff, it’s worth looking at why you’d even want to become one in the first place.
According to LinkedIn, UX Design was the 5th most sought after hard skill last year. When you consider that emotional intelligence and creativity also made the top 5 soft skills list, it’s clear that UX design skills look pretty darn enticing to employers.
What skills do I need to become a UX Designer?
While you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a UX Designer, there are some traits you might want to possess before jumping into the industry.
Not to be confused with UI Design (you can read more about the difference between UI and UX here), UX Design is more concerned with user research, creating wireframes, problem solving and testing solutions than designing a slick interface. If you have an interest in human behaviour, a curious mind and a knack for data analysis, then you’ve got the foundations of a great UX designer.
So, how do you fill in the gaps? What is the exact process for becoming a UX Designer? We’ve whittled it down to 5 simple steps. Read on to find out what they are.
1. Research the industry
The first step to get into UX design? Research the industry. In fact, this could be the stage you’re at right now.
UX is constantly changing. That’s what makes it so exciting. But if you’re going to become part of the furniture, you’ll need to know what’s already happened, what’s happening right now, and where the industry is going.
To get to grips with this, your best bet is to cast your net wide and utilise all the types of resources available, such as Youtube, podcasts, UX industry publications, blogs, online forums and job sites like Hired.com, who can tell you all about average salaries and the top industries hiring UX designers.
Diving deep into the industry will help you identify exactly why you want to become a UX designer and what job you’re looking for. Once you answer these questions, you can start to blaze the right trail to get you there.
2. Learn the skills
Okay, “learn the skills” should go without saying, but how can you learn the skills if you’re not sure what they are?
To blossom into a successful UX designer, you’ll need to nail down the technical bits and bobs, including softwares commonly used by the pros. Like Figma. Figma is a design software built for all your prototyping, wireframing and workflow-ing needs. It’s also cloud-based. Which means it’s designed to aid collaboration.
This leads us to soft skills. UX Collective lists communication as their number one skill for UX designers. This is because you’ll not only need to communicate with clients about project updates, you’ll also need to pitch for their work and communicate with your team to get the job done.
It’s important to balance the technical skills with the emotional. Mastering the software will be one weapon in your arsenal, as will creativity, empathy, collaboration and project management all in equal measure.
So where do you acquire these skills? While some opt for higher education (too long!) and others for self-guided tutorials (too self-guided!), our UX Design Foundation online course designed with industry partners offers a combo of autonomy, real-world experience, community and mentoring.
Which brings us to…
3. Get mentored
Behind every great UX Designer is a great mentor.
Who wouldn’t want personalised career guidance and technical training from an industry professional, who’s been smashing it in UX for years?
Mentors eat, sleep and breathe their industry. They’ve relished the gains and risen through the pains. They’re well versed in the tricks of the trade. Most importantly, they’re willing to share their experience and knowledge with you.
We won’t bore you with the stats, but research finds that mentees are 5x more likely to get promoted than those without mentors. With this in mind, mentoring is a sure-fire way to get a head start on your competition.
4. Build your portfolio
Remember when we said you don’t need a degree to get into UX? Let’s dig deeper.
While a degree in graphic design, digital design, psychology or computing might look tasty on your CV, to become a UX Designer you need to let your portfolio do the talking. Why? Because studios and brands want a guarantee that you can do the job.
Start gaining experience working on real-world briefs as soon as you can. Even if they’re passion projects, try to replicate industry as early as possible to get those transferable skills we mentioned earlier.
As for what to put in your portfolio, you’ll need some examples of your work. Even better if it shows how adaptable you are. Include examples of prototyping, wireframing and user research, and demonstrate that you can design websites, apps, products, softwares, anything that might come your way as a UX Designer!
Once you’ve worked on a few different projects and you’ve brought it all together, you’re ready to get out there and start strutting your stuff.
5. Network, network, network
One of the best things about UX is that you’ll always be learning something new. This is where that curious mind of yours comes in handy.
Aside from your mentor, find opportunities to meet fellow designers. Attend industry events and webinars, collaborate on projects, link up with a creative duo. UX doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so the more active you are in the community, the more likely it is that clients, studios and recruiters will hear about you and your portfolio and give you that dream gig.
There we have it, phew! 5 steps to become a UX Designer.
Now look, here’s the truth bomb, it takes focus and determination to progress through each step. For those of you who are up for it, you will be rewarded with a meaningful, stimulating and fast-paced career.
So let’s set the wheels in motion, shall we?
If you’re hungry for an online course, where you’ll work on briefs set by industry powerhouses, get mentored by an experienced designer and where you’ll join a growing community of UX, UI and motion designers – then look no further than our UX Design course.
Click here to start your UX journey.
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