How to become a UX designer

Does technology get your heart racing? Do you excel in creativity? If so, then jump on board the fast accelerating world of digital work. Consider becoming a User Experience (UX) designer. As a UX designer, you combine creativity, technical knowledge and user research to craft digital products. You guide those products to an end result which people will enjoy using. You study human behaviour to inform and perfect the design choices you make. Rather, you don’t just concern yourself with how the product looks. No you want to perfect how it feels to use. Collaborating with the product design team, the designs you develop can make or break the success of a product. Sound daunting? Or invigorating? If you said invigorating then you could have discovered your perfect career!

Now, you know where you are going, the question is how to get there? Well, read on, there are many paths to becoming a UX designer.

Step one: Choose a course to learn the skills you need

Focus on finding a course which will give you the appropriate training in information technology (IT) as well as design. Go for a course recognised by the UX industry so when you finish you hit the ground running. You may want to consult UX organisations to check employers recognise your course. If you have already been working and you want to head in the direction of UX design. You might only need a course to develop one side of your skill sets (IT or design). You may also find training opportunities organised by your current employer if you are already working in a related industry.

Step two: Join the AIMIA (The Digital Industry Association of Australia) and UX Australia 

The AIMIA and UX Australia organisations can help you to build up your network in the business world. You never know, you may well find your first job through the connections you build with them. They can also be a valuable source of advice from experienced professionals already established in the industry.

Step three: Look for your first job – Go for it!

As a part and parcel of registering with the UX organisations, you can begin to look for work. You may not find a job as a UX designer as your first role, but you can look for a job in the team the UX designer works with, then aim to progress. Or with your newly gained qualifications, you can also try to apply for your first job as a UX designer. You will need your resume to demonstrate your technical, creative skills, and research skills. Consider working on some personal projects prior to job seeking as a way to gain some experience and build a portfolio of your work.

Step four: Choose a specialisation

As a UX designer you are already a specialist. However, within the field, there are other directions you can progress towards.

User Interface Designer

If your flair solidly lies on the creative side of design then you may enjoy progressing to become a user interface designer. You work with the UX designer. Taking the information they have collected, and the research they have done with user tests, to inform and mould the design itself. You focus on combining your design vision with the UX designer’s results to bring together a finished product. Guess what! It looks beautiful and feels good to use.

Design Project Manager

Working as a UX designer you will gain a wealth of experience on the projects you work on. This experience can serve you very well, and open doors to a project management role. Many project managers have little technical experience which can hold a project back. For this reason, UX designers can be in high demand for project management opportunities. This is because you have the technical know-how to use as a solid foundation for decision making.

UX Developer

You are a UX designer whose strength is the technical side? Perhaps, you are a bit of a coding geek? Then becoming a UX developer can be an excellent career progression. Through your work as a UX designer, you develop your coding skills, and you can then take your focus towards the technical direction. Namely, writing code to make the design and user aims a reality. This means you are the key to making the demands of the UX developer and the Designer.

Step five: Target your dream job

So you have qualifications, experience and a specialisation in mind. Now is the time to target your dream job. You may find the best opportunities for progression are within the company you already work for. However, if there aren’t opportunities forthcoming don’t hold back and seek work elsewhere in the market. Make sure your resume reflects your personal strengths, the qualifications which got you started, and all the experience you have gained.

UX designer job description

As a UX designer, your main focus is how the design works as a whole. You want to know how people feel using the design, in order to perfect the usability of the product. To get to the bottom of this question you conduct user testing and develop different scenarios to identify and resolve any problems. These days the absolute emphasis in the IT world is to design products people can use intuitively. Think of how intuitive Apple products are. With very few buttons people can control many things, easily. A UX designer was behind this. As the UX designer, you have to get to the bottom of how to achieve user interface perfection. In short, you will be seeking ways to make the product the best it can be. Sounds fun, right?!

Tasks

  • Carrying out user testing
  • Drawing up workflow diagrams and wire frames
  • Analysing ideas and designs using storyboards to plan usage scenarios
  • Consulting with clients
  • Keeping your finger on the pulse of current technology trends

Skills for Success

A product design can be very beautiful and sophisticated. Yet, users find it a pain to use, which is a big turn off. Your job is to resolve these problems without losing the beauty of the design. To do so you will need to have strong problem-solving skills. You will need to use your initiative and think outside the box. The solution may not be obvious, and there is never just one solution. Communicating with people will have to take place to gather information from users, and to work with your client to achieve their end goal. A social, diplomatic, listener makes an excellent UX designer. Being able to give clear instructions is important to design effective tests which help to get to the bottom of user frustrations.

Skills and attributes

  • Communication extraordinaire
  • A team player
  • Good at design, generating ideas
  • Able to verbalise ideas
  • Up to speed with cutting-edge technology developments

What is a UX designers salary?

 In Australia, UX designers earn a median wage of $71,844 per year. This varies according to a number of factors, and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18

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