How to learn UX (user experience) design

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For a lot of people, everything regarding web design and web development seems like something that’s probably very hard to grasp and learn, so they steer clear of even trying to learn the fundamentals.

It is also a big misconception that in order to get into the design process, you need to have some form of formal education.

Like with any tech-related skill set, you can absolutely learn everything yourself and still be successful at doing it.

That’s why I’ve gathered all the tips and guidelines you need in order to learn everything you need to start design work and your web design career.

Here’s what I have in store for you:

  • Why you should be learning to do UX design
  • Steps to follow for learning UX design yourself
  • Answers to frequent questions regarding UX/UI design

Let’s get into it!

Why Should I Learn UX Design?

Before getting into the hows, it’s good to start with the whys of learning UX Design.

There are many options for learning if you’re into user experience design, but you might not be sure why exactly that’s the path that you should take.

And understanding the why will help you a lot with starting your designing and prototyping process, so it’s always a great source of motivation.

Learn How To See New Opportunities

The user-centered design doesn’t just mean making existing products better – it’s about seeing the possibilities in everyday life.

Your brain should work when you do UX design because it is always on the hunt for ideas that will make the user research experience better, so after a while, you will gain a habit of always seeing such opportunities in everything that surrounds you.

This also means that you will learn how to solve problems more efficiently.

You will need to have a mindset that is prone to thinking out of the box at all times, as you never know where these opportunities may arise, and they can arise practically anywhere.

This could, and probably will have a huge impact on how you go about your life and the problems that might arise in real-world situations, so you will be gaining a lot of life skills besides the design skills.

This will, of course, be useful in any type of product design meeting and similar situations, making your design projects more successful, but this type of design thinking has the ability to enhance your everyday life, not just your career and design portfolio.

Understand The Entrepreneurial Mind

Whether you want to start your own business or improve your skills in working with business owners, you need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of a business owner.

If you want to have your new career to be fruitful from the start, you will need to learn to invision what your ideas and design principles would look like to people above you, as any idea you might have will probably need to be approved by someone higher up.

Once you do get into that habit, you will be able to come up with better ideas that have a higher chance of being approved, meaning that your full-time career will be more likely to bloom.

However, if you do have ideas for startups and something that you might start yourself, then this ability will definitely be of use when it comes to your UX design job and the project management side of things.

You’ll create your own concept for a business based on your personal passions, experience, and resources and refine it with user research.

And, when you already know how to get yourself into the mindset, success is inevitable.

Design Systems That Move, Motivate and Work

A great user experience is about more than a product’s pixels. It’s about the need it addresses, how it makes users feel, and what motivates them to use it.

To have the best visual design of the product and user interface design, you will need to learn to think beyond just what the finished thing should look like.

You will need to learn how the experience the people will get can impact them and make their lives overall better.

Your UX career should include considerations like that, too.

The reason for that is besides having the users enjoy the experience and the graphic design they see; you will need to make sure that they also want to come back to the website or the mobile app you created.

To do that, you’ll need to understand how a social media redesign or setup actually makes them feel and make sure that the feeling your product inspires in them is a highly positive one.

Learning to have this kind of understanding towards others will inevitably overpour to your everyday life and relationships, too.

But also, in order to understand how a user would feel, you could definitely ask people from your life to help you out, which could be a great experience for you regardless of your career.

A lot of usability testing could be done among your familiar group of people, so that can be something fun that will make for some great stories and also will go against the occasional boredom in the workplace.

Finally, having such good people skills will make you more likable among both the co-workers and the people above you, and that will bring you more opportunities.

How To Learn UX Design – Step-By-Step Guide

So, now that you know why you should be learning to do UX design, let’s see how you should go about it.

As I’ve already said, formal education is definitely not an end-all-be-all when it comes to learning to do web development.

However, to be sure that you get the right information and design tools, it’s always good to have somewhat of a guide.

Even if it only helps you know where to start.

The Internet is a magical place, and you can find as many resources for anything that you might need or want to learn as possible.

So, to be sure that you won’t lose yourself among all of the available information, let’s see where you should start and what possibilities are there for you.

Research And Find Out Everything There Is To Know About UI/UX

While the practice of UX design might sound fairly simple to you, it’s actually much broader than you might think.

Just like to an amateur, programming might seem like this one simple thing programmers do, while in reality, there are numerous different programming languages that each person learns depending on what it is that they want to do.

And just like that, you need to define what it is that you want to do exactly as a designer before you start to learn about it.

This means that you will need to do a lot of research and a lot of reading before even trying to come up with a studying plan.

Firstly, it is of immense importance that you know what the differences between UX and UI design and which one of these two you see yourself working with are.

Another thing to research is what the job market is like for UX designers.

What positions are wanted? Is it more open towards frontend or backend designers? What skills do these job listings require?

The easiest way to do this part of the research process is to go through LinkedIn and see what companies are offering in this field.

It’s also great to know what salary you could expect when you reach the point where you can do UX design as your full-time job.

It’s essential to get the feel of what it’s like in the industry, so you can be ready for whatever might await once you start.

Look around and find either a few blogs or even YouTubers whose content centers around experiences regarding what you can expect to see when you enter the workforce.

Find Out What UX Designers Actually Do

After getting the overall feel for what the industry is like, it will be a great idea to get down to the nitty-gritty.

In this part, you should really break down what are the specifics of doing as a designer, so you’ll be really sure if that’s exactly what you would want to do.

To make it easier for you to have a better idea, it’s important to say that designers mainly solve problems and make sure that the existing situation is improved.

So, if you enjoy that kind of challenge and are genuinely excited to think out of the box, then this job is for you.

However, if you want to work only with a set of rules and clear instructions without wiggle room, you might want to reconsider.

If you are among the people who like solving problems, then it will excite you to know that there is actually a specific 5-step process that designers go through when solving problems in front of them.

That’s what we know as the design thinking process.

Firstly, you need to identify what is the problem that a user is experiencing, so we call this step the Empathize step since it literally boils down to you being able to build empathy towards the user in question.

To do this, designers usually need to identify the target user and then conduct polls and surveys that further help them emphasize and understand the problem they need to fix.

After that, you’ll be able to Define the problem, which is exactly what the main thing about the next step is.

Without defining the problem, you have no chance of ever solving anything since you basically won’t even know what it is that needs fixing.

After that part comes to the Ideation phase, and as the name suggests, this is the most creative part of the whole process.

You will literally need to sketch down anything that comes to mind as the possible solution to the problem in front of you and do a lot of brainstorming.

The ones that seem the best are the ones that you will be turning into wireframes and have them simmer a bit in your mind until you can start prototyping.

After creating your prototype successfully, you will need to test how it works and whether that thing really is the final solution that you can implement.

So, naturally, now comes the User testing stage.

To be sure that you’ve made the right solution, you will need to do several rounds of testing in order to have every little detail perfected before it’s sent to development.

Once you’ve finished with the UX part of your job, you will then hand that over to the UI designers and have them take it from there.

Even though every single designer has their own process and works differently and probably at a different pace, this is the basic formula that everyone follows and builds onto.

Learn About UX Tools

Being a UX designer means that you will have to work with a variety of different tools, so it will be a great idea to get familiar with them before you really start working.

Even though everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the exact tools they choose to use, there are some staples that you probably won’t be able to miss.

There are three main types of tools that you will have to work with, and there are different programs that serve these purposes, and you will choose them depending on your preferences after trying them out.

Firstly, there are User research tools that are used for conducting all kinds of surveys and polls that you want to make in order to research your user base.

Some of the most popular ones include SurveyMonkey and Typeform, but for simple polls, you could easily get away with using Google Forms, too.

Then, you will need to work with programs that will help you with Wireframing.

The best ones for this seem to be Sketch, Balsamiq, Wireframe.cc, Figma, and actually a lot more, so you will really be able to choose the perfect one for you.

Finally, you will need to work with Prototyping tools, and just like the previous one, there are a lot of options to choose from.

Some of the programs that come up a lot as recommendations are Adobe XD, InVision, and Sketch.

Besides that, it’s also important to know that you will work with project management and communication platforms.

Working as a designer usually means that you will be working in a team, so it’s important to know which platforms work best for your team depending on what your needs and preferences are.

The best tip that I could give you regarding choice-making is to make the most out of the free trials that all platforms have available nowadays.

Once you go through with the trial and see what each platform has to offer, you will know which one is for you and which one you should invest in.

If you work within a big company, it is very likely that they will already have the chosen platforms they work with, so in order to easily fit in wherever your career takes you, it’s a great idea to explore all of the popular ones before entering the workforce.

And, being familiar with more than one platform will actually make you a better candidate in any type of recruitment.

Find The Best UX Design Course Or Bootcamp

Nowadays, it seems like anything you might want to learn has a certified online course that will teach you all you need to know, and UX design is no different.

The main thing employers want from a UX designer is to know what the key principles are and to have the practical skills down, and online courses can be amazing at teaching you exactly that.

However, it might be a challenge to find the right one for you, as there are so many of them nowadays on a variety of platforms like Skillshare, Coursera, Khan Academy, and many other ones.

The course you find will need to have a logical order to do things, and most importantly, it will provide you with exact and concise information.

If you wanted to have a broad information overload, you wouldn’t have come to a course in the first place, right?

Make sure that the lessons are organized in a way that fits your learning pace and that the person mentoring you is someone who generally fits your vibe and you find enjoyable.

If the person teaching you is someone who you find irritating, then the chances of you really learning are getting slimmer and slimmer.

Also, consider that the things you work on are realistic and resemble what you will be working on in a real-world job.

If you decide to do a Bootcamp or an internship for beginners, then be sure to find out whether that is an opportunity where you’ll be able to make your portfolio and if it’s a place where you can have a job opportunity at the end of it.

Overall, doing practical projects and examples is the best way to learn something like web design.

Find Inspiration Among UX Designers

To be a good designer of any kind, it is of big importance that you develop a “designer’s eye.“

This means that you should be able to see compositions and know whether they are done well or not, and also have a bit of an intuition about what your final product should and will look like.

That’s why it’s important to connect with a lot of good designers from your field that you admire and draw inspiration from their work.

It’s a great idea to go and see portfolios of other people and what are some solutions that they’ve come up with because mixed with your original ideas, that type of inspiration will help you create some truly amazing things.

You will also train your eye to be able to differentiate what a good design is, and that is very important when it comes to your work, as you want to be realistic and self-critical.

This is something that you should continue doing throughout your whole career, as following what the current trends are will help you immensely to be up to date and therefore have more clients, and more importantly, more satisfied clients.

Make Your UX Portfolio

This might be one of the most important steps in this whole process, if not the most important one.

Without a thorough portfolio, it’s not very likely that you will be able to land a good job or a job at all.

When it comes to visual jobs like this one, or like any designing job, the people you do the projects for will want to know what they can expect and whether what you do and your style fit the aesthetic that they have in mind.

You probably wonder how you could make a portfolio without having a job first, but there is a straightforward solution.

While you’re still a beginner, you should definitely try volunteering.

The easiest way to get this experience is to reach out to non-profit organizations and offer your skills and see whether they need some UX improvement.

As nowadays everyone has their website, and it is very likely that they will have something that you could work on.

Besides that, you can search and see what virtual opportunities are there for volunteering in the field of web design.

Finally, if you can’t find anything like this, you could always come up with problems yourself and make projects alone.

You could pick any website or app you want and make an example of how you would want to redesign and improve it.

Document the final product as well as the steps you took to get there, and people will be very easily impressed.

Just make sure that you point out to your clients or employers that the things you’re showing them are simply a conceptual solution you came up with and not an actual paid job.

It’s a nice way to capture everything you can do and what your style this, especially since this way you won’t be limited by specific requests that you maybe don’t really agree with,

Network With Other Designers And Potential Employers

Finally, an amazing way to learn things and widen your horizons is to be in contact with other fellow designers.

By networking, you’ll be able to learn things firsthand from people who work in the industry, so you can learn things about the industry in general and about some specifics you might want to know about certain projects.

While getting to know people by going to different events, you can also easily join some of the groups around the Internet on various different social platforms and make connections.

You could meet fellow learners as well as people offering mentorship.

Also, with this in hand, you will always have someone to ask about any issues you might be having and get ideas for fixes easily and very fast.

By meeting people and talking to them, you will enhance everything you learned yourself following the previous 6 steps, so definitely don’t skip this last one!

FAQ

Can you learn UX design on your own?

With the help of the Internet, you can easily learn to do UX design yourself.

Just do your research, network with people, and make sure that you choose the right online course that suits your needs and you’ll be able to learn a lot by yourself.

How do I start learning UX design?

To start learning UX design you will first need to learn something about the practice in general and make sure that this is something that you want to do, and then define that exactly.

After that, it’s best to find some online courses that will provide you with everything you need to know.

How long does it take to learn UX design?

This mostly depends on how you choose to learn UX design, at what pace you are working, and how much time you’ll generally be able to focus on that.

However, some estimated time that you can expect to have in front of you is between 2 and 10 months, so overall, not a lot.

What is the best way to learn UX design?

The best way to learn UX design is to implement everything the Internet has to offer.

Besides opting for the wide variety of online classes, you should also get in the habit of networking with other learners and mentors alike, so you will be able to learn more and hear lots of different things that are going to be very useful.

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