How to Become a Pro UX Designer – in 10 Steps (Part 1 of 2)

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you want to become a pro UX designer – which is great! Or perhaps you’re just interested in finding out more about UX design. Maybe do a bit of market research and be on your way. That’s also fine. Hey, whatever the reason – I’m glad you’re here and I hope you find exactly what you’re looking for.

How to Become a Pro UX Designer – in 10 Steps

In this post, you will find out the 10 steps that will help you go from novice to pro. From beginning to end – this article by ADN Digital has covered every step of the way.

Here are the 10 steps that we will expand on in this article:

  1. Understanding UX Design
  2. Do Some Quality Studying
  3. Learn to Sketch
  4. Connect with Other Designers
  5. Search for Inspiration
  6. Learn to Prototype Your Designs
  7. Building Your UX Portfolio
  8. Land Your First Job as a UX Designer
  9. Accept Rejection
  10. Continue Learning

Ready?

Let’s kick off with the basics of UX – getting some key terminology out of the way.

Here’s step number one:

Step 1: What is UX Design?

User experience (abbreviated as UX) is how a person feels when interfacing with a system. The system could be a website, a web application or desktop software and, in modern contexts, is generally denoted by some form of human-computer interaction (HCI).

Those who work on UX (called UX designers), study and evaluate how users feel about a system, looking at such things as ease of use, the perception of the value of the system, utility, efficiency in performing tasks and so forth.

UX designers also look at sub-systems and processes within a system. For example, they might study the checkout process of an e-commerce website to see whether users find the process of buying products from the website easy and pleasant. They could delve deeper by studying components of the sub-system, such as seeing how efficient and pleasant is the experience of users filling out input fields in a Web form.

Compared to many other disciplines, particularly Web-based systems, UX is relatively new. The term “user experience” was coined by Dr. Donald Norman, a cognitive science researcher who was also the first to describe the importance of user-centered design (the notion that design decisions should be based on the needs and wants of users).

Donald Norman

Okay, definitions are great, but WHAT exactly do UX designers do? Simply, UX designers don’t just design.

Surprise, Surprise!

In fact, the scope of a UX designer’s job description is much broader. You can often find UX designers involved in a variety of roles, including:

  • Research
  • Visual design
  • Testing
  • Business analysis
  • User analysis
  • Project management
  • Wireframing

Therefore, you can say UX design is not a black and white process. There are a lot of gray areas in between. So, unless you’re up for the challenge this job might bring your way, you might as well save yourself the trouble and end your journey here.

Still here?

Good! You’re already one step closer to becoming a UX designer. Persistence and patience pay off in this line of work, so good start!

If UX design is still a mystery for you, take a look at this fun explanatory video which I’m sure will clear things up for you:

Phew! Now that that’s out of the way we can finally get started on the good stuff. So sit back, relax and keep reading.

Step 2: Do Some Quality Studying

It comes as no surprise that in order to become a UX designer you need to do some reading. There are two paths to learning UX design – formal and informal methodologies.

Formal Study

Formal studying refers to taking classes or Professional Workshop by Corporate Experts that result in you receiving a degree or certificate that officially recognizes you as a paper-qualified UX designer. Although this type of study methodology is the path of choice it doesn’t mean that the second path is less effective. It all comes down to motivation. If your mind is set on becoming a UX designer, you will learn regardless of which path you follow. Besides, when it comes down to employment, employers would rather see a great portfolio of your capabilities than simply your name on a piece of paper.

This brings us to the timeless debate – experience vs. education. But we’ll leave this topic for a future post. Let’s continue with informal learning methods.

Informal Study

Now, when I say informal studying, what I mean is learning UX design as a hobby from various sources.

A great way to begin is to read some articles about UX design. You can always find time for a quick read – whether you’re on the go or at home, you can always find a few minutes to spare. Oh, and don’t forget to read some great tutorials about how to use some of the most commonly used UX designer tools.

If you’re not keen on the whole self-study thing, there are many paid and free UX design courses you can take online to develop and practice your design skills.

The aim of these courses is to introduce you to the basics of UX design and help you work your way up the complexity ladder one step at a time. Once you complete a course with flying colors (or have done enough reading), it’s finally time to roll up your sleeves and enter the real world of design – putting theory into practice.

Step 3: Learn to Sketch

Don’t worry, no one expects you to be the next Picasso but if you’re THAT good you’re already one step ahead of the rest. What I’m trying to say is that you need to get into the habit of putting your ideas to paper. The ability to turn ideas into visual masterpieces is what sets one UX designer from another.

Even if you’re still a sketch newbie, simply jot down your ideas pen to paper. Remember this is just to get into a creative routine so you can move up to the more advanced tools.

Speaking of tools, Sketch is the go-to tool for UX designers. Although Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop are also among the favorite designer tools, Sketch takes home the gold medal every time.

The best thing about Sketch is that it is easy to use and quick to learn. Also, there are numerous video tutorials, courses and articles that will help you learn Sketch fast. Oh, and they have a free trial period. So you can see firsthand just how great this tool is and why every UX designer is using it.

sketch UX

Step 4: Connect with Other Pro UX Designers

Okay, so now you know what a UX designer actually does.

You’ve spent some time studying, done some reading and began sketching. You might feel a bit overwhelmed.  It’s a normal reaction. However, now is the time to network and connect.

Find other designers to share your experiences, dilemmas and achievements with. Regardless of whether they’re a seasoned UX designer or a beginner like yourself, it’s good to have someone to talk to who understands what you’re going through.

Apart from having those heart to heart moments, it’s important to keep in touch with other UX designers. These connections will help you stay up to date with the latest trends as well as open the doors to future employment opportunities.

Step 5: Search for Inspiration

Every artist needs their muse – or so they say. At this stage, believe it or not, YOU ARE AN ARTIST. So it’s time to get inspired.

There are some great sources of inspiration out there. Check out fellow UX designers’ works at Dribbble, Awwwards and Web Crème. These are great communities that bring together UX designers from all over the world to showcase their designs.

Once you have your own design you can share it and inspire others and maybe build a name for yourself in the design community.

UX-Designer-Banner

You are halfway to becoming Pro UX Designer.

For the rest of the article, continue reading the second part of this article. Visit How to Become a Pro UX Designer – in 10 Steps (Part 2 of 2)