Would you like to become a UX/UI designer but don’t know where to start? We have asked UX/UI professionals from top design companies about how they started their careers and prepared a step-by-step instruction on how to climb the career ladder.

Get familiarized with the job description

The profession of a UX/UI designer is on the rise right now, but not so many people fully realize what this term means. They also cannot tell the difference between a UX/UI designer, a web designer, and a product designer. Let us have a look at the definition of this job title.

A UX designer makes sure that a product makes sense to the user. He builds up a path that leads the user to perform the needed actions in the app step-by-step. A UI designer takes care of the visuals of each page and helps the UX designer to guide the user. At large companies, these are two separate professions. However, in the majority of cases, a UX and UI designer are the same person.

If you decide to become one, you will:

  • develop and bring into life user-oriented designs;
  • conduct intuitive and UX tests;
  • optimize user interface;
  • implement business logic into the designs;
  • combine creativity with in-depth knowledge of the design principles;
  • make prototypes and mockups of new products.

Understanding what people expect from you in the workplace will be very useful once you start thinking of the skills you need to get this job.

Decide on your learning materials

It is up to you whether to study by the book, an online course, or in an expensive private school of design. If you are sure that you have enough discipline to explore by yourself, feel free to do that. However, it’s undoubtedly advisable to communicate with some people who already work as UI/UX designers to ask them about the resources they have used to learn. For example, this blog post highlights some of the top UI/UX design agencies in the world.

Here are some books that we can recommend:

  • “The Shape of Design” by Frank Chimero. It will teach you the basic principles of designing a product people will want to use.
  • “Digital Behavioral Design” by T Dalton Combs. How to make users do what you want? This book will show you how to program their behavior.
  • “Pixel Perfect Precision Handbook.” A free online guide for beginners in UX/UI.
  • “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug. A bestseller and must-read for everyone who wants to work in design. You will learn how to create designs that make sense to real people.
  • “Fundamental UI Design” by Jane Portman. In layman terms, this book tells about how to create stunning and intuitive app designs.

If you’re a more of an online course fan, check out the online education platforms Udemy and Coursera for more interactive materials on UX/UI design.

  • Specialization in UX/UI from California Institute of Arts. Not free but some courses you can access for free without getting a certificate;
  • Introductory course from Georgia Tech. Teaches you the basics and provides opportunities to practice by submitting homework;
  • The Complete App Design Course – UX, UI, and Design Thinking by App Brewery will teach you to make lovable apps.

You can do this on forums on Facebook groups. Also, social networks usually contain plenty of relevant materials that you can use to study up-to-date things.

Master the UX/UI tools

Before you can start obtaining real-life working experience, you need to know how to use the necessary instruments of design. They might depend on a company where you are going to work, but the minimal survival kit includes one or more of the following:

  • Adobe Photoshop. Underlying software for anyone working with graphics and design. It takes time to learn, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll become almighty.
  • Sketch. A cool program for sketching but works only on Macs. It allows collaboration and offers convenient working tools.
  • Figma. It comes in handy when it’s time to develop app prototypes — one of the simplest yet powerful programs for prototyping out there.
  • Balsamiq. Use this application to create mockups and wireframes for the future product. It also allows for collaboration.

Study the designs around you

Pay attention to the details in the app that you use and search for the collections of successful designs on the internet. Browsing through the ideas of your colleagues is excellent to form your professional taste and inspire your future projects. Probably, the biggest collection of all sorts of app interfaces you’ll find on Pinterest. 

Start preparing your portfolio

After you did your reading, it’s time to practice what you have learned and start developing real skills. Nobody ever became a professional by just reading a book. Try to dedicate 1-2 hours a day to sketching and prototyping regularly. Perfect if you can find a mentor to have a look at your work or at least a friend who also studies design.

When you have zero work experience, make up your project, or deliver your interpretation of an existing solution for a famous brand. After you finish it, you will have something to show to your potential employer on a job interview.

Sign up for an internship

If you have this possibility, offer to collaborate with a real company as an intern or volunteer. In this case, you get practical experience without too much responsibility or risk to let somebody down. The companies usually hire interns who did well. In any case, completing a trainee program is an excellent addition to your CV.

Find a job

There is no need to exaggerate your work experience or lie about it to your employer. Many companies hire beginner level UX/UI professionals if they see their passion and the ability to learn. The best way to become a professional is to start working on real projects. So, as soon as you complete the previous steps, don’t hesitate to apply for your dream job at a UX/UI agency.

Never stop learning

Read and take courses in typography, marketing, painting, and so on. There is not a direct connection with UX/UI, but they can help expand your professional horizons. If you got a job, it doesn’t mean that you can get stuck in your development. Learn from your more experienced colleagues as well. And good luck!

So, let us mention all the steps once again:

  1. Get familiarized with the job description
  2. Decide on your learning materials
  3. Master the UX/UI tools
  4. Study the designs around you
  5. Start preparing your portfolio
  6. Sign up for an internship
  7. Find a job
  8. Never stop learning

Summing up

Everything is possible for a willing heart. It is possible to become a UX/UI designer even if you have zero formal education and work experience, as long as you’re determined. You got instructions on how to become a designer in 8 easy steps, and now it’s time for you to fulfill your dreams!

Guest writers and carefully selected for Career Enlightenment. Thanks for reading!

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