How to Become a Successful UX Designer
UX design is a great profession for people who are technically brilliant and amazingly creative. Being a successful UX designer is not a simple task as it needs a lot of patience, determination, hard work and willingness to improve every day. Being one of the highest paid professions today, this is among the most demanding job profiles as well. This is one of the stress free job profiles of the times if you really enjoy doing it and have a passion for the same.
As organizations realize the significance of quality user experience for continual success, they are seriously looking forward to hiring the best UX designers available for their firm. Being a strong choice for them demands some quality and attitude. Unlike being a doctor or some similar profession, a 4 year or 5 year university course is not really relevant to become a successful UX designer. You can certainly master the skills on your own with a dedicated self-study and the backing of a part-time UX design course or full-stack UX design bootcamp can fill the gaps and give you enough confidence.
Before landing into a decision to take up a career in UX design, ask yourself multiple times whether it is for you. A passion and eye for design is a standout quality as opposed to a 4 year degree from a top rated university to become successful in this field. You should have a genuine interest in technology and the quality of self-starting can be of real help.
Are you looking forward to being a successful UX designer and mark a difference in this competitive arena? These tips, tricks, habits and wise strategies will help you for sure.
Read Also: How to become a UX Designer in Hong Kong
Do a lot of background research
Just like making every other good plan in life, becoming a UX designer needs a lot of background research. This will help you understand what you are actually up against and minimize the amount of unpleasant surprises mid-journey. Get a really good idea about the UX field and what to expect in your days as a practitioner. Read lots of books, blogs and listen to as many podcasts and videos you can to be insightful about the design career.
Practice active listening
This is one of the best ways to be successful in the world of UX design. Developing and practising active listening may not be that easy in the first place. You have to work for it by letting the speaker talk, not dominating conversations and by planning for responses only after the person finishes talking and not by interfering in the middle.
Learn the right skills with a UX Design course
Learn the fundamentals of UX design before dreaming deep into the next levels. In the beginning, self-learning is a good starter, especially by following along with some YouTube videos. As you move forward, the backing of a credible UX design course can help you to fill the gaps if any and invest time to develop the right skills. It can be about the practical knowledge of the way you do user research, draw wireframes or create user personas. Since UX is highly dependent on human interaction, whether with a client or an end user, there is a great need for real feedback, mentorship and opportunities for you to take on real-life practice and projects.
Build your UX portfolio:
This is a great thing to do to mark a space in the UX design industry. In addition to demonstrating learned skills, this helps you to have a better insight into working life as a designer. Don’t make the mistake that ux portfolios are only for experienced professionals. Even budding designers can build one using mock projects or with a spontaneous redesign of an existing app.
Along with projects that you have taken on in proper UX design courses (and gained professional feedback on), you can continue to work on projects on your own using apps like Sketch or InDesign and put them online.
Build storytelling skills
A great designer should be able to communicate his ideas to the team efficiently. A better understanding can make a difference in the final product and the way it engages the audience. Building storytelling skills can help a designer become a great communicator as ideas are better conveyed in the form of stories. Creating storyboards and immersing deeply in the brand stories can help a designer to a great extent.
Always remember,:it’s one thing to have a good idea, it’s another to be able to enchant stakeholder and users to gain buy-in on said good idea.
Find a mentor
Having a good mentor is a wonderful idea, if not a requisite one. Go for an expert with immense experience in the field who can guide you to improve on the go. Moreover, he/she can help you learn about the industry standards and what changes to make in your style to give more comfort to the user.
Whilst mentors aren’t always available to give you time consistently, joining a UX course is a great alternative as you are essentially purchasing the time of a professional who has agreed to put on their mentor had and guide you through the entire experience.
Master some basic design tools
Hard work is of course the basis of success but working smart can help you to climb the ladder of success faster. Instead of starting the work from the ground every time, make the best use of the advanced design tools and software that makes your job a lot easier. Sketch, Pencil, Pidoco and Adobe Photoshop are a few must-haves amongst a vast array of advanced design software for UX professionals.
Even if you decide to focus on the user research or testing side of UX, basic design and wireframing skills are essential to convey your findings and help move products along the journey to detailed UI design, development and implementation.
Learn to think outside the box
There will always be a lot of designers around who just do the basics to get along to survive. However, being a truly great designer demands a lot more than that. The first and foremost criterion is to learn to think outside the box. Those novel creative ideas and approaches can help you earn an extra edge in this competitive industry.
Take in as many case studies as possible and practice brainstorming sessions with friends and peers over coffee. Don’t be afraid to sound crazy… Some of the best ideas are derivatives of moonshots or “do you ever wish you could” moments.
Outside the box thinking truly is something that needs to be practiced with consistent active expression of unconventional ideas.
Develop key skills of a UX designer
In addition to learning the basic fundamentals and technical skills of being a UX designer, there are even more key skills you have to invest in. The foremost skill is the drive and attitude to learn and grow, always, without giving up.
You should be able to enjoy learning and be a great team player to bring the best results. One has to care about beautiful aesthetics, but the ultimate focus should be to care about users as usability is what matters the most, before anything else.
Core skills in empathy, proper research methodology and structured user testing are fundamental skills that will need to be practiced over and over again until you will feel confident to sell your time as a UX designer.
Understand the need for change
Dynamism is yet another key skill to be developed to be successful as a designer. The world is changing everyday and there is no point in sticking to a static set of guidelines for your career, forever. You should understand the need for change and bring in novel approaches to satisfy the changing needs of users.
Great ways to stay on top of design trends are to subscribe to UX blogs or join micro-communities on platforms around the internet. LinkedIn, Slack and Discord are modern ways to communicate with peers that share similar interests, minus the spam of large groups.
You’d be surprised how quickly the field changes. One day color gradients are taboo, then Instagram uses it and its in-demand!
Network with other designers
Just like focusing on improving yourself as a designer, building a good network with other designers is necessary. The power of a personal network can never be under stated as the benefits are many. Attend related events in your area, get to know your co-workers and don’t be afraid to approach design experts for advice.
As mentioned in the previous point, online communities are also relevant.
Surrounding yourself with other enthusiasts not only helps drive new ideas and stay ahead of the curve, but it helps to keep you excited and may even lead to new job opportunities (both in-person and remote).
Practice and improve through actual projects:
In addition to getting the basics right through reading and research, getting some practical knowledge through actual real world UX Design work is equally important. The way you work as a team, how you handle problems and the way you meet budget constraints and deadlines is really counted to excel further.
Opportunities here can come from your UX Design class, your in-person and online networks, small jobs for friends and family or even experimenting with small business ideas that you have on your own.
Visit usability testing sessions
Understanding what the user needs is really important to be successful as a designer. Visiting usability testing sessions is a great activity to learn how a user interacts with a product and what all changes would have been made to make it better. This is the best way to understand the problems they face and this can be taken as a feedback for improvement.
The best way to do it is with your own projects or within a team, and of course getting feedback from an instructor or mentor.
It’s never comfortable to try to collect clean data and feedback that can make or break a product if you feel like you are doing a lot of guesswork, so do make sure you get a lot of active time in the field before you begin to sell your services!
Set design goals for yourself:
Always practice and learn the new elements in the design arena. It is important to do it efficiently; setting proper design goals and working towards them can help you do this and it will definitely make you a better designer. It is also important to prioritize your goals so as not to get lost in the sea of possibilities and set challenging goals to push yourself.
Some examples of reasonable design goals would be:
- Follow along 3 YouTube videos and design what they have instructed
- Next, based on what you’ve learned, design 3 similar projects from your own imagination
- Then take on design prompts from blogs and inspirational online sources or enter a hackathon as a UX designer with your fundamental design skills as your toolkit
You’d be surprised how confident you will feel if you make it through this sample set of goals. It’s totally doable — give it a try now!
Welcome constructive criticism
A good designer, as with most professionals, should always be open to new ideas and handle constructive criticism to bring out the best in them.
To be successful as a UX designer, you should understand that it is never advised to settle for one idea but come out with as many fresh ideas you can to make a difference in your career. Never be afraid to actively request regular feedback and utilize honest opinions to get the better of you. All the same, know when to politely consider some feedback but, as you grow, trust your instinct.
Learn to manage your time well
A good designer should be able to balance their daily work and inspiration. Experts say that while a designer spends 80% of the time for actual work, the rest 20% should be dedicated to earn inspiration through some means. Learn to sketch a design before moving to the final product, which in fact, saves a lot of time. Recycle your old works and find better insights and ideas out of it. It is also important to take breaks and have a proper work life balance to excel in whatever you do.
UX designer is one of the most promising job profiles of the decade and it is no wonder why young enthusiasts are craving to make a career out of it. As we have discussed earlier, investing some quality time for self-learning and improvement with dedication and perseverance is the key. Even if you don’t have a degree in design from a reputed university, a passion for the designing role with the backing of a credible short term course can help you to get through.
The comprehensive User Experience Design course offered by Xccelerate can be a great option for young enthusiasts who are looking to try their luck in UX design. This advanced short term course teaches you the basics of most modern design methodologies and how to customise the design to give the best user experience.