A Step-by-step Guide to Start a UX Career in 2021

Illustration by Erdem via Dribbble

The Coronavirus changed the dynamics in almost every industry, and many people are thinking about a career change. If a UX design career sounds intriguing, this article is for you.

But how can you successfully kickstart your UX design career during these unpredictable times?

No need to worry. At the end of this article, you will have the exact blueprint of what to expect and how to accomplish such a pivot in your career with a step-by-step guide.

What are UX and a UX designer?

The term “user experience” describes the interaction between a person and a product or service. According to Google, it’s a huge factor that plays an essential role in the rankings, and thus it’s vital for every kind of business.

We can describe a user experience as good or bad depending on how easy and straightforward the process is. The truth is that whatever the experience of a user, it doesn’t happen by chance.

That’s why UX designers’ job is to craft a process that will help users navigate through the journey, whether it’s a digital product, an app, or a website with physical products.

To do that, UX designers combine design laws, market research, product development, and strategy to create seamless user experiences for services, products, and processes.

How can I make a transition to a UX designer in 2021?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. To become an architect, for example, you go to architecture school. This is not the case with UX designers.

So how can you become a UX designer?

Most UX designers in the industry transitioned from another field and transferred their expertise to UX design. With a diversity of backgrounds like digital marketing, visual design, and office administration, they are now conquering the UX world.

But how did they transition from such different backgrounds to this kind of job? Keep reading because we will explore how to do the same in the next steps of this guide.

How to become a UX designer in 2021?

A UX career transition is not easy, but I will guide you through a step-by-step process to make it easier for you. We will understand if this is for you and how to build up your expertise and achieve a UX design career.

Are you ready to get started with UX design? Let’s begin.

Start by doing your research on UX

The first thing you need to do is to understand the various dimensions of UX design. Explore its different elements before you decide whether it’s for you. Only then continue to upgrade your skillset in this area.

As a beginner, knowledge is power, and to put yourself in a strong position from the beginning, spend some time doing your research.

If you love spending time on Instagram, then follow accounts on UX design there. It’s a great way to get digestible tips and advice daily while scrolling on your feed.

If you love video content and have more time, YouTube is the place for you. There are many YouTube channels out there that can help you start as a beginner.

Here is a list, to name a few: The Futur, CareerFoundry, and AJ&Smart.

Another great resource is blogs. There are many choices out there, and there are plenty of well-crafted articles in the UX section here.

Other well-established blogs are UXPlanet and UXCollective.

Let’s be honest. If you’re serious about getting into UX, you have to do everything. To sum up what you need to do in the research phase:

  • Read books to build a solid foundation.
  • Subscribe to blogs and YouTube channels to learn about the latest trends.
  • Follow social media accounts that will provide you with digestible tips and tricks.

Learn the critical UX principles

When it comes to UX design, the primary goal is user-centricity, and there are specific guidelines and best practices to help with that objective.

Designers have to make decisions based on what the users want and develop a user-friendly, aesthetically attractive, and viable option in terms of budget.

There is a book dedicated to UX laws that is extremely interesting and will walk you through design tips and principles to make user-first decisions. The book is called Universal Principles of Design, and for me, it is a must-have in your library.

If investing in a book sounds like a big step, I got you covered. Start searching for these rules below to clear some of the concepts when it comes to UX design:

  • Confirmation
  • Herarchy
  • Consistency
  • Accessibility
  • User control

Learn about the UX methodology

There are 4 phases when it comes to the UX design process:

  1. Research
  2. Design
  3. Testing
  4. Implementation

Each of these steps is vital for the end-result, and as a UX designer, you need to know how every phase works.

The research phase is all about finding out what the goals are, who are the target audience and what they need?

The design phase is relatively self-explanatory. Here you come up with some kind of solution to turn it into reality at a later stage. A lot of designers love to share their design phase on Instagram, so if you follow some accounts in this niche, I am pretty sure you get the point.

Starting from wireframes and designers end up with prototypes that will be tested from a small group of users at the testing phase.

For me, user testing is the most vital part of the UX design process. This is the stage in which, as a designer, you can see any elements that don’t work or need change. Taking feedback from a small portion of your customers can be vital in this step.

When testing is over, it’s time to let developers do their job and prepare the market’s product.

This process we explained above is a simplified explanation of what you will need to do as a UX designer. Diving deep into each phase will help you find out many different techniques on how to approach them.

To accomplish that, there are many online resources to guide you through this journey.

Kickstart your career with a UX course

To become a great UX designer, you need to learn a lot about the theory and practice your craft. To do that, the best way I found is to invest in a UX design course to give you a structured process to approach this new career change.

A valuable course combines theory and actionable steps to achieve your objectives. Finding a job or crafting a beautiful portfolio are benefits that only a small portion of courses offer.

Choosing the right course isn’t easy, and the first thing you need to think about is whether that course offers the best value for your money.

But how do you know if a UX design course is right for you, you may ask?

Here are some elements you need to pay attention to when it comes to courses. Find a course that:

  • Helps you learn through projects
  • Has assignments that test what you learned
  • Focuses on building a portfolio
  • Provides some kind of support (mentorship or tutor)

Apart from that, do your research. Check for customer reviews and success stories from people who already enrolled in the past.

Practice as much as you can

You finished the course. Now what?

It’s time to practice what you learned. Focus your time and energy into creating interesting case studies apart and add them with the projects you already have worked on as part of your course.

You can find some great opportunities to work on your UX design skills by collaborating with some non-profit organizations. You can gain real-world experience and improve your portfolio while helping for a greater vision.

Another great way to start is to go to websites, apps, shops, etc., and find what doesn’t work for you. Create a case study showcasing how you approach the problem you face in their UX process and solve it.

Learn the tools you will need

To master a craft, you need to know all the tools to improve your workflow and make you better in your job. UX design has several tools that help you in each process.

Every designer has different preferences and may choose another option when it comes to a toolkit. But which are some of the most popular ones to start with?

 icon-angle-right User research phase

  • Lookback.io
  • Typeform
  • ReFramer

 icon-angle-right Wireframing and prototyping phase

  • Sketch
  • Adobe XD
  • Figma
  • InVision

 icon-angle-right User testing phase

  • Usabilla
  • Hotjar
  • CrazyEgg

If you’re still confused about which tools are right for you, ask other designers for feedback or advice on what they use.

Build your UX portfolio

A portfolio is your best work structured to convey to the employer that you can accomplish what you preach.

A portfolio’s goal isn’t just an aesthetically pleasing presentation, but a means to highlight your thought process behind each project. If done correctly, it tells a story and describes every part of your creative process journey.

Your portfolio should focus on presenting the problem, showing how you solved it and what process you implemented to achieve that result?

To make it easier for you, focus on providing the material below to create a portfolio that will land your next UX job.

  • The problem you are solving
  • Your thought process
  • The visuals of the final design
  • Benefits of your strategy for people

Before you get started on your portfolio, take some time, do your research and get a ton of inspiration. Find other creators in your niche and best practices for creating a winning portfolio.

Network with other creators

In a creative field, networking is an excellent way to learn your craft faster, get feedback and find motivation. Connecting with fellow creators to collaborate and share ideas is one of the most powerful things you can do.

There are several ways to connect with like-minded people that are part of the UX community. The easiest one is LinkedIn, where you can search people with the tag “UX designer.”

Another great way is via email. Cold outreach can be difficult for many people, but being authentic with the recipient and connecting in a meaningful way can create strong bonds and long-term relationships.

Another great way is to create a community. It can be a Facebook group or an email list where you can share your tips, your thoughts and encourage other creators to engage.

You can have some sort of design competitions, quizzes, or if you love sharing your knowledge, you can craft a sequence of newsletters for your subscribers.

Keep in mind that it is all about building that rapport with other designers through meaningful connections.

The Takeaway

UX design is a beautiful world with a lot of different dimensions. This article was a quick guide to explain some of the terms and concepts to understand better if this field is for you.

So, is UX design for you? Are you willing to invest your time reading design laws and searching for the right tools? If the answer is yes, a great future is ahead of you. If the answer is no, you only spent 10-minutes reading this guide to decide that it’s not a career for you.

Now I want to hear from you in the comments section and discuss what makes a UX designer great, in your opinion? I can’t wait to hear back from you.

Until the next one, keep designing!

About the Author!

Alex is a content writer at Moosend. Coming from an architecture background, he took the leap of faith in the digital marketing world and never looked back. In his free time, you will find him taking photos in places around the world.

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