There are so many perks of working in UX: creative and fulfilling work; flexibility; variety—not to mention the high salary.
It’s safe to assume, though, that you’re already familiar with the why.
What’s not as clear is the how: how do you take that first step onto the UX ladder?
If you’re curious about becoming a UX designer but have no idea where to start, you are not alone. It’s important for me to make clear that there isn’t a magic formula; in fact, many people fall into UX design later on in their careers, having worked in fields such as product management, marketing or software development.
The ability to change is in your hands. If you want to build a career as a UX designer, you can absolutely make it happen—and I’m going to show you how.
Who can become a UX Designer?
Technically speaking, anyone can become a UX designer; however, the fact that it’s such a diverse field can be something of a double-edged sword.
Before you take the first step, it’s important to understand the diversity of the field and to see if the various skills you’ll require complement your current skillset and interests. Read up extensively on UX, chat to those in the field, listen to a podcast—all the while asking yourself, am I a good fit for a career in UX?
One of the biggest myths out there is that you need to be a born artist or some kind of design prodigy, but that’s simply not true. There is no specific background necessary, professional, educational, or otherwise.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since founding CareerFoundry, it’s that there is no cut-and-dried profile of a UX designer. We’ve seen people from all walks of life successfully make the switch: from accountants and administrators to landscape architects and dentists!
The true marker of a good UX designer is what intrinsically motivates you. Where do your passions and soft skills lie?
Do you have a natural gift for empathy and understanding people’s needs? This is what’s known as a user-centric approach, and it forms the very core of what UX design is all about.
Are you good at solving problems, thinking both critically and creatively to come up with out-of-the-box solutions? Likewise, are you flexible, adaptable, and a great team player? UX design is a team sport, so collaboration and communication are critical.
These soft skills are a great basis for a career in UX, and are much more important than any formal qualification or specific background.
But still the question remains: how does one become a UX designer? Let’s take a look.
How to become a UX designer
When it comes to building a career in UX, there are many different components you need to pull together. Here’s my advice on how to approach it, and in what order.
Do plenty of background research
Like any good plan in life, you should start with plenty of research. Read up on the industry and really get a feel for what it’s like to work in the field; day-in-the-life accounts can be really insightful, together with books, podcasts, blogs and videos. Consume as much as you can, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
If you’ve never dabbled in UX design before, it’s a good idea to try a taster course. This free short course provides a practical introduction to UX, complete with hands-on exercises to get you thinking like a designer.