There’s been an interesting thread circling my corner of the internet for the last week or so.
It started with a question: can I land a career in UX design with zero qualification; of course, you can!
I’ve had many of you asking me about how I landed a job in UX design without having any sort of relevant experience or exposure under my belt. So, now you know why I am putting up this topic!
In tandem with web development, web designing plays a vital role in succeeding your business site. But unless and until you don’t make certain advances in your technique it will seem like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. UX designing is a pretty hot job right now across the globe.
According to CNN, it has been ranked fourteenth in their top 100 jobs list, stating that the number of UX design positions is likely to rise by 18% over the next ten years.
Also, it came seventh in Forbes list of top 20 jobs for work-life balance, and a recent study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that UX designers love their work! Respondents rated their career satisfaction as 5.4 on a scale of 1-7.
I can still recall the infancy days when I was just a disciple struggling hard with no clear consensus on where to go or which qualifications are required to land up with the best job in UX designing. And as a layman, I was naïve enough to presume that anything related to designing requires a degree from a reputed art school. I must say I was so wrong!
On the contrary, very few UX designers have studies UX at university. The world is full of people with different backgrounds ranging from psychology to marketing to project management and finance. As for me, I initially enrolled myself in the finance industry for unsociable hours and low pay and switched here.
Do you need a UX design certification?
Probably not! Moreover, you will come across several employees who don’t aim to see your certificate- it’s more like proving what you truly are and how much you are capable of. Also, there are plenty of people out there who have fallen into UX through other career paths, and as such, they were never formally trained in it!
All you need to know is where to begin!
If you are determined then nothing can stop you from succeeding. Information is everywhere, and all considerable resources are at your service from blogs to books, learning on the job, etc.
Start seeking around for crucial job descriptions on sites such as Linkedin, Indeed and Seek. This will surely provide you a better understanding of what is required from you. However, you will find that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important and what’s not. For example,
the process where you can put yourself into your end users shoes. Able to conduct surveys and studies, be observant, carry out focus group sessions to understand your users’ behaviors, needs, and goals.
Being able to identify and prioritize critical issues helps to define the scope of the project and let us know where to focus on to deliver the highest impact on your users.
It may quite interest you to know that a UX designer has to by hook or crook make things work with product managers and engineers to gather and evaluate user requirements.
If you are a developer, you have to gain comfort in writing the code similarly, as a designer, it is very important for you to be comfortable with visualizing and sketching ideas on paper. Right from translating concepts into user flows, wireframes and low-fidelity mockups that lead to intuitive user experiences.
Try familiarizing with applications such as Balsamiq, which is commonly used for rapid wireframing and getting quick feedback.
Design and prototype
Sketch, InVision, and creative cloud (photoshop, illustrator) are some of the best tools you need to put your hands on. In addition to this, understanding of color composition, space, and visual hierarchy are core elements of a good UI and visual design.
Conducting usability testing is quite important when it comes to getting feedback on your prototype before it goes into development.
At the same time, it is essential to work with engineers to understand whether your designs can be implemented from a technical perspective or not. Analyzing user data gives you an exceptional understanding in regards to the performance of your designs and you will be able to drive the decisions as an experienced professional.
Finally, it’s worth noting that UX designers do not operate in silos. They work closely with many key people and teams within the organization, including users, stakeholders, product, and engineers. Which also means you might encounter conflicting perspectives. During such cases, you must be sensible enough to know when to pick your battles and let the data speak for itself.
So, what’s Next?
So good so far, you have got a brief idea of what is expected of a UX designer. Think hard; think about ways in which you can acquire and practice those skills.
One of the best frameworks that I have found extremely useful is “Learning,” which features exposure, credibility, and experience.
In case, if you are a newbie in town, it is very crucial for you to start soaking in as much information as needed to understand what the career is about. What kind of things are required for you to get yourself into if you were to pursue this path?
Reading books, watching videos, attending events, or even just by talking to people in the industry can be quite helpful.
Go through popular publications such as UX Planet, Smashing Magazine, UX stack exchange, and the UX collective. Apart from this, you can think considerable resourceful sites such as Dribbble, Muzli, and Behance.
In addition to this, try attending events; it can be one of the best meets up experiences you ever had. Try having more and more conversations with professionals around, observe them what they do, and ask them questions about their job.
OF course, you are naïve right now, but you can get experience by practicing. Start something like a project, write a blog, get experience, or participate in a hackathon. Do something that requires you to apply what you’ve learned in theory.
I am sure you will come across several programs run by the industry leader, which gives the participant a golden opportunity to work with a cross-functional team in an Agile environment.
Start a project all by yourself. I think this is the best way to apply what you’ve learned in theory to the real world. In case, if you are baffled where to start from, you can do by looking at existing websites and finding ways to improve the UX by redesigning the page.
Time to build a portfolio, get a certification to become a freelancer, or apply for a job. Try to work towards something that will give you some level of credibility.
By doing this, you will be able to prove to others that you’ve successfully consolidated your theoretical knowledge and practical experiences. As I said, do freelancing. Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer are some examples of platforms where you can build brand credibility by working for clients as a freelancer or contractor.
Keep evaluating yourself in regards to skills. It’s also handy to compare your current skills and experiences to the requirements listed on the job description to see how you stack up.
Lastly, UX designing is worth giving a shot, and I am the living proof of it!