UX design has become a buzz word lately. With more and more digital products trying to become sustainable, the demand of UX designers is rising every day.
Yes, there are tons of design career guides everywhere, but this one is an exclusive playbook derived from a live meetup with Amrita Arulraj. She was at HelloMeets recently with a resourceful guide to starting a UX design career.
And what's awesome about it? Amrita gave the most cost-effective ways of learning UX design and get employed at startups. Here's how it goes:
What does a UX designer do?
1. DESIRABLITY: Understand the User’s needs
2. VIABILITY: Align with Business goals
3. FEASIBILITY: Leverage Technology infrastructure
As a UX designer your job is to find a sweet spot between the three.
Intersection of Desirability and Viability results in Emotional Innovation: this includes Branding, Image, Advertising - things that sell the business paired with human emotions.
Intersection of Desirability and Feasibility results in Functional Innovation: an example would be pop-sockets on the back of phones.
Intersection of Viability and Feasibility results in Process Innovation: an example would be how with increase in technology, more goods are manufactured in lesser time and effort by leveraging such technology.
The super interaction of these three gives us Experience Innovation.
Why Should You Want a Career in UX Design Industry?
1. The demand is great, so the opportunities are endless
2. High Median Pay
3. You can help make technology accessible to everyone, especially because accessibility of Internet is increasing by the day
4. You can see the results of your work in Real Time: more so if you are working at a product company where you can make a design and use the hit-and-trial method to see your decisions being played out and affecting the sales.
5. You can enable people’s enjoyment of their devices because ultimately User Experience is about creating delight on the users’ end so that they visit you again.
Eligibility to enter the UX design industry
You can jump right into it, if you are:
- Curious with an aptitude for learning
- Good at communicating and even better at listening: with users for whom you are making the design, and also with a team of Developers, Analysts, and Product Managers. You have to be able to justify your design to them.
- Analytical, with attention to detail
- Highly Empathetic towards the users because you need to understand problems from the perspective of customers, gauge their emotions and actions, and their psychological triggers
- Can see the Big Picture
- Someone with a need for Validation, because the work is about building designs that others enjoy
Do you require a professional degree or certification to become a UX designer?
All that you require to know, you can Clickety-Click on the internet and voila, all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips!
Do you NEED to know Coding?
Not at all! In fact there are tools that allow you to make the whole website without knowing how to code!
When is the right time to break into the UX Design Industry?
Anytime you please! You could be in University, a Fresh Graduate, a Working Professional in any industry, or a Freelancer – it doesn’t require you to be from a design background! Since design is majorly digital, all the tools and processes can be leveraged digitally, so as long as you are keen and creative you can break into the industry with ease.
How to you prepare to begin a career in this industry?
Start with a Calculated Research. UX does sound fancy but be sure it is the right fit for YOU, and whether you have the right motivation for it.
The 7- step process to train yourself in UX design
If you are a complete beginner you have to start with learning:
The UX Language or Terminology to communicate with future employers and designers. You will be required to think in the UX vocabulary and be able to explain yourself in such, so learning that comes first.
With the basics parallelly you must learn the tools in order to translate your thoughts into Tangible Visuals. If you are highly creative but cannot create a tangible piece of art, the creativity will never give you value.
Pick up screens from an existing product or interface (preferably real) and try to replicate it with pixel perfection using the tools you have learned; make your work look exactly like the screen you’ve chosen to copy.
This is important:
- To understand the thought process behind the interface. Ex: If there is a page with three buttons- X, Y, and Z. When you think through the lens of the designer you’ll understand his intention, as to why X is placed first and Z last; this means the buttons are in decreasing order of importance, to aid the product in question.
- To learn about grids, spacing, layout, accessibility, design guidelines for different operating systems. Design systems are crucial to bind a platform together to maintain uniformity in the design.
- To become familiar with the features of the tool.
Challenge yourself by choosing a product or interface and making meaningful additions to its existing features.
This is to-
- Understand the difference between ‘Must-Have’, ‘Could-Have’, and ‘Should-Have’ functionalities, depending on the business goals
- Know where to draw the line and not overdo the design
- Become cognizant of your abilities as a design thinker
Attempt to build an end-to-end product or an experience around a problem statement that you can talk to real people about.
This is to-
- Get familiar with User Research, and thinking like a user
- Identify strong and weak points in your design
- Get an estimate of the duration of your design process to enable time management
Build mock designs using these resources that generate design brief (or design problem): sharpen.design, designercie.com, briefz.biz
5. Case Study (Problem => Process => Solution)
Pick up a design problem, break it down in layman terms for others to understand your design process.
1. Define the problem and understanding the context of the problem. Ex: A chair is extremely uncomfortable and can have long-term repercussions on the spine- the context would be the type of chair (rocking chair, lounge chair, etc.) and how many people use it (their age, the placement of chair, etc.).
2. Process - Form a list of questions and corresponding assumptions about the problem at hand. Conduct the Primary and Secondary research to answer the questions; for the unanswered questions, consider the assumptions. Ex: While conducting the User Research, it was known the chair is being used for 8 hours a day but no one could define the exact material of the chair, so it is assumed the chair is made of Plastic. The beauty of an assumption will lie in your solution when the recruiter will automatically understand the direction of thought process seeding from the assumption. End the process with Ideating with Wireframes or Cloud Mapping.
3. Finalize the Solution. Test your wireframes with people (prospective customers) to know their perspective. Then make a Prototype and test it on AT LEAST 5 people, gather their insights and iterate because in UX there is always scope to better!
Pro Tip: Don’t spend too long on deciding on a Problem Statement because as you are researching and answering more and more questions, there is a great possibility that you will Redefine your Problem, sometimes even to the extent of entirely changing the context/focus of the Problem Statement.
· Use bullets, annotations, and bold font. Call out mission-critical flows, rather than focusing on obvious elements like the Login Screen.
· Mention how other non-design factors like any X feature compliments your design, showing that you’ve gone the extra mile to research outside your comfort zone
· Emphasize on your problem points in the description with their corresponding solutions in the conclusion
6. Portfolio (Your Golden Ticket!)
What should you showcase?
- 3 -5 of your best Case Studies in Deceasing order of importance (Best at Top!)
- Show and Solve a wider range of problems than digging deep into one (unless you mean to work in a specific industry)
- Be a Storyteller and focus on Engagement than listing details
Always assume you have just 5 mins to convince your recruiters before you miss them by a whisker!
7. Apply for a job!
As a UX Designer you can apply literally everywhere:
- Travel, Food & Dining
- Branding, Media and Advertising
- Banking, Financial Technology
- Medicine and Healthcare
- Education Technology
And the Job Titles you will come across are:
- UX/UI/ Product/Experience Designer
- Interaction Designer
- UX Researcher
- UX Strategist/Architect
- Visual/Motion Designer
- Web Designer
- Communication Designer
- UX Unicorn (It's an actual thing, an All-Rounder Person)
Than applying for the Job Title, apply for the Job Description. DO NOT be fooled by lengthy Job Descriptions; most of them have superfluous, pointless writing which includes the Vision and Mission of the company than their actual expectations of you. If you find yourself interested in the company, ask for an exact description of your roles and responsibilities and then discuss the pay. Sometimes the description reads “Junior Role” with a list of responsibilities bigger than the role, so it is wise to gain clarity before settling for a lesser pay.
How do you reach out to prospective employers?
1. LinkedIN, CrewKarma (LinkedIn for creative jobs), AngelList, Company Website
2. Cold emails can be helpful with a catchy subject line and a clear intent in the first 3 sentences
3. TIP: If you are eyeing a specific company create a case study around problems relevant to them. It’s always an add-on if you have the knowledge of their business!
4. In the interview be sure to ask questions that help you understand their needs better, like- What are the top 3 problems that I will be expected to solve? This will increase your understanding about their work and get them equally interested in You!
8. Stay Connected- Seek Interaction & Validation from credible sources to constantly Grow and Evolve. Check out online forums and designer communities. And in your own free time, build things for fun and keep testing!
Although design is dependent on a person’s creative intellect and practice, some platforms for leaning and training in the fields are: Interaction Design Foundation; Coursera and Udemy; Career Foundry; Springboard; Neilsen Norman Group; 10k Designers (6-month Mentorship Program).
As a UX Designer, you are a lifelong learner adding delight to people's lives. And if you happen to make a career out of solving every day problems, God, you'll be a Superhero!
We tried to bring you the best of the knowledge from our live meetup with Amrita. Join us sometime!
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