Become a UX designer: 6 essential steps
Becoming a UX designer isn’t rocket science but requires hard work and determination. Follow these 6 steps to learn UX design
Are you thinking about how to become a UX designer but are unsure how to get there? Does the world of UI design, A/B testing, interactive prototyping and bold call to actions excite you?
Many of us have been in the same boat, even at Justinmind, with no compass to direct us. Where to begin? What to learn? Who to follow? There are endless questions about getting into user experience design so let’s look at 6 essentials steps to learn UX design before becoming a fully-fledged member of the UX community. Vamos!
Make the decision to become a UX designer and stick to it
First, you need to really want to become a UX designer. That requires thinking it through properly before embarking on this technical adventure. Decisions made on whimsy will go nowhere. Research what it means to be a UX designer, look on websites like Interaction Design Foundation to gather information before making a decision.
Nothing else will matter when you make a committed decision. Your age, your experience or your technical skills have no bearing on whether you want to be a UX designer or not. If you want it badly enough, you’ll put in the hard work required to get there.
Set SMART UX goals
“Become a UX designer” is a dream. For dreams to become a reality, you must break them down into small manageable tasks that you can complete easily. This may be the most important step in becoming a UX designer. SMART goals are those which are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound – so give yourself a deadline and work through them. Before you know it, you’ll be halfway there. But only if you are serious about goal-setting. Working smart is better than working hard, so these 7 productivity hacks will ensure you’re working as efficiently as possible.
Becoming a UX designer can be broken down into the areas you need to learn, the books you need to read, the people you need to follow and the practice you need to gain. Those steps can be broken down more specifically according to your own needs. This is all about turning vague goal into actionable to-dos! It’s vital that this step be taken seriously, especially when you consider how important requirements and user goals are in UX design.
A goal gives us the focus we need to achieve and with goals you are not only in control of your progress but goals allow you to measure your progress therefore keeping you motivated!
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Take a UX design course
It can be daunting getting started in a new field or trying to gain more knowledge. Not knowing where to start can put many of us off before we’ve even begun. That’s why taking a course can put you on the right track. Want to know more about interactive prototyping? How about a little more info on UX design fundamentals? The ins and outs of Sketch? This list of 10 UX and UI courses can get you started on your UX design journey.
Find a UX mentor to guide you
Get a mentor in the early stages of your learning process. The importance of mentors is well known. People leave managers, not jobs according to Forbes. This means that it’s likely when you do get hired as a fresh faced UX designer, you may not see eye to eye with your manager (fingers crossed this isn’t the case).
To avoid this, find a mentor. A mentor can be someone find outside of work or simply another colleague. Check your local IxDA groups, attend meetups or hunt prominent UX designers down on social media or designlab. By having someone who can hold you accountable, who will objectively critique your designs and provide you with feedback, you will find yourself growing in confidence, ability and knowledge faster.
By finding a mentor, you can learn from them and eventually you can give back by becoming one yourself. Start early and take a peek at these 4 lessons on teaching UX design.
Work on fake UX design projects
Many people fall into the trap of wanting to become a designer but having nothing to work on. Especially in the early stages of your career setting yourself fake projects can really help you understand where you shine and where you need polish up your skills. A quick peek on sites like Briefbox can give you full, detailed briefs if you don’t feel confident creating your own.
Imagine you want to do a UI redesign of Skype or another app that you use frequently. You can take notes of what features and functionalities you like or dislike or create features that you think the app could benefit from.
Sketching down your ideas quickly can help you get your thoughts down and taking those to a prototyping tool like Justinmind means you can create refined hi-fi prototypes. In doing this, you not only gain understanding of the UX design process but you also grow in ability. Show your work to your mentor or post it to Dribbble to receive feedback from people in the UX design community.
If a fake project doesn’t fill you with joy, try looking at someone’s work that you admire and try and re-create it.
Read ferociously about UX design
There’s a very active community of trusted UX designers and writers on websites like Medium, Twitter and Quora. Take advantage of this pool of talent. Learn how they write, the subjects they write about and understand the questions they pose. 85% of self-made millionaires read 2 or more non-fiction books a month. Now correlation isn’t causation but this shows that most millionaires read so that they can learn and grow. And they read a lot. Use this mentality when learning about UX design; the goal isn’t to become a millionaire but to become a influential UX designer!
Equipping yourself with the relevant knowledge means you will be able to make your own independent UX decisions and who knows maybe you can even start writing about your own experiences in a blog. The benefits of which are endless.
How to become a UX designer – conclusion
You might have asked yourself throughout this post: do UX designers need a degree? The answer is no. Although most UX designers do happen to be university educated, there’s nothing you can’t learn by following the steps above. They will help you become a more than proficient UX designer but that can only happen if you hold yourself to account, set realistic goals and find someone to hold you accountable. Good luck and happy UXing!