You've heard it. You've heard people talk about it, but do you know what it means?
Basically, the UX is an abbreviation for User Experience. It means that the designer will essentially deal with the experience of the user while using their software, website or app.
In essence, the UX is the process of delivering a good experience to the user and making programs easy to use.
This kind of occupation requires a lot of:
- Technical knowledge
- Computer logic
- Other software-related skills
Also, it involves the knowledge of people, because after all the interaction between your app and the people is the key.
Since this career is this complex, it definitely requires a good education. At the best, you will need at least two years degree with a chance of pursuing a masters degree.
In essence, the requirements are high but so are the rewards. The income is great, and by the looks of it, this career is here to stay.
Becoming a UX designer
There are 4 main steps to take in order to become a great UX designer:
- Get a related bachelor's degree
- Grow your skill set
- Gain experience in the field
- Refresh your skills periodically
Follow these 4 steps and you're golden.
Getting a degree
Getting a degree in the field is a great start to learn the fundamentals of the field.
A UX designer must understand the needs, behavior and the expectation of people who will use the app, and the degree will help a lot in this. Through proper knowledge and training you will excel in the field.
We've ranked the best Visual and UX design grad programs in the US below.
- Stanford Graduate Design Program – The Stanford's design program is at the forefront when it comes to defining the direction of the design field. They're currently involved in developing new methods to target issues like widespread behavior changes, the energy and other complex business issues. Note that Stanford graduates are equipped with a great mindset that lead to strategic initiatives.
- Jaime Levy's UX Design and strategy (University of South California)– The UX Guru, Jaime Levy teaches UX Design and strategy at USC. Her courses involve developing the practice of UX design and strategy for creating a unique and compelling digital services. It is recommended to have basic knowledge of web development, or graph design tools.
- Human-Computer interaction Design (Indiana University Bloomington) – IU really approaches the interaction of humans and computer, but from the design perspective. The focus goes further than simply using technology for problem solving. It's more about creating a tech experience that will function, be intuitive and easy for people to use it.
Grow your skill set
Learning new skills is the key to become a UX designer.
You can always take extra courses when it comes to it, either physical courses or online. Based on the person, you can start looking for a local company or course that offers training for a fee. Or, if you're more of a lone wolf than it's best if you start looking online for tutorials.
The best places to learn UX online are:
HackDesign (Price: Free) – A very easy to follow course for people and how they do these amazing things. The courses are sent to your e-mail weekly including links to articles, tutorials and other related stuff. This is a great way to keep you up to date with the latest trends in the UX world.
Coursera (Price: Paid, but offers financial aids) – Probably the largest and most eclectic catalog for online education. Enroll in whatever course seems to fit you best, ranging from four up to twelve weeks. Also, for a price you can get certified online and add them to your resume to look more professional.
My Path (Price: Both free and paid) – Thousands of articles, courses and meetups in one place. They're content-ready and user friendly so people can stop wasting their time in searching and start learning.
SkillShare (Price: Paid, 30 days free trial) – Learn a new skill every day. Using bite-sized lessons you can keep on growing as a UX designer. You can learn creative skills in just 15 minutes a day.
When you feel like tutorials aren't teaching you anything anymore, it's time for the next step.
There are many ways of gaining experience, but the two most effective ones are to:
- Look for a job
- Start your own project
When you start working for a company, you'll gain “street” experience in the UX design field. While tutorials are great and teach you a lot, working is a whole new level. What tutorials don't teach you is the challenges you might face. This is were working comes to the play. When you work for a particular client, you'll learn that there are things that you never knew you should take into account. This will help you tremendously in gaining experience in the field.
Or, if you don't feel like working for someone yet, you can always start your own project. This helps you directly to knowing what your flaws are. It's different when you're learning because you watch the tutorial and do what it says. But, when you start your own project it's more complicated because you'll get stuck at something and not know how to solve it. This is a great way to learn new challenges.
Refresh your skills
You need to refresh your skills periodically.
The UX design field is not something that will stay that way forever. It's one of the fields that are constantly growing and you need to go with the flow.
The best way is to subscribe to relevant newsletters, constantly be ready to learn new things and follow influencers of the field. This way, you're always up to date with everything that's happening new.
Refreshing your skills will also help you stay ahead of competition. It's a very competitive field and you need to be informed at the highest level in order to be relevant. Start by following emerging trends and keep on taking online courses. It's never enough!
John Marx is a native of Nebraska, and graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College in 2014 with a B.A. in French. Continuing his studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy.