How to Become a UX Designer

By BrainStation November 7, 2019
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The term “User Experience (UX) Design” was coined less than 25 years ago, but in that time, it has quickly become a popular discipline for design professionals and creatives looking to break into tech. 

If you’ve been looking to enhance your skills as a Designer, adapt to a more digital role, or perhaps transform your career completely, UX design could be the path that you’re looking for. So, how do you get started? Here are some of the steps you can take to jump-start your career in UX. 

Develop the Right Background

To begin a career in UX design, an education in design or related experience is always helpful. Our Digital Skills Survey found that 65 percent of Designers began their careers within that same field. For Designers, in particular, gaining skills in UX design can really provide a competitive edge in the job market. 

“A lot of Graphic Designers are attracted to user experience design,” says Adriana Baiz, the Admissions Specialist at BrainStation. “First, because it’s pretty much the future of design, and second, it leans more towards strategy. For example, UX Designers consider factors like accessibility within a digital product. It takes design to the next level.”

While practical, traditional education in design is not required to start your career in UX. In fact, it’s common to have a background in psychology or the social sciences. Some have come from completely different industries like tech consulting. Above all, spend time understanding the tactics used to conduct user research and implement experience design.

There are also transferable skills that make someone well suited to the role. For example, empathy is critical to understanding how the users of your product or service think and act in a given situation. Collaboration is key in many roles, but especially for UX Designers. This job requires interaction with various teams, actively listening, accepting feedback, brainstorming and more. All require a successful team dynamic. If you have these skills, you’ll be ready to take the next step and get some skills training. 

Get Training

We’ve written about how to prepare for a UX Diploma Program, which is a great way to jump-start your career into UX. In general, there are five essential responsibilities you’ll have as a UX Designer: 

  • Conducting research
  • Developing user personas
  • Architecting information
  • Wireframing designs
  • Performing usability testing

Here’s a breakdown of what you should learn when training for this new career in design: 

User Experience Design Fundamentals

Make sure your training provides experience with design sprint methods. Learning to identify problem spaces and develop solutions. Further, you should leave with an understanding of wireframe and prototype creation using design tools like Sketch and InVision. 

User Research Strategy

You should learn to plan and conduct user research in order to understand behavior, needs, and motivation. Then discover how to translate your findings into relevant project requirements and product designs.

Design Research and Strategy

User research is essential to UX design. Ensure your training shows you how to conduct user research, understand behavior, needs, and motivations. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to communicate complex interactions visually through experience maps with personas. 

User Interface Design

Build upon your knowledge of usability design to master the nuances of typography, color, illustration, and images. Use industry tools including Sketch to design professional interfaces. Learn methods for designing and maintaining user interface pattern libraries.

Responsive Design

Apply industry-standard design principles to create both low- and high-fidelity applications and websites. Utilize grids and breakpoints in the design process to ensure your projects are responsive across various screen sizes, guaranteeing a seamless experience.

Make use of Online Supplementary Resources

We’ve listed tons of online resources like podcasts, Instagram accounts, and youtube channels that you should follow as you pursue a career in UX. Take a look at these lists: 

Develop a Portfolio

You’ve got the right background and you’ve developed your skill-set, the only thing left is to start building out your portfolio so you can apply to jobs. Tailor your portfolio to target the industry you’re applying for. 

“Broad isn’t the best when it comes to building a portfolio that will catch the eye of an employer” says Eduardo Tovar, the Senior Experience Designer at digital agency, Konrad. 

Another tip: don’t use a general template for your job application or examples. Recruiters are going to be looking for the breadth of your unique talent and this is the time to show them that! 

Read more do’s and don’ts for developing your portfolio. 

Ready to pursue a career as a UX Designer? Take a look at our UX Design Diploma Program