The User Experience field has grown tremendously, and it’s expected to grow from 1 million people (2017) to about 100 million people by 2050. With the increasing demand for better user experience in all applications, beginners are facing difficulties breaking into the industry. User experience is a consequence of brand image, presentation, functionality, system performance, and assistive capabilities of the interactive system. It also results from the user’s internal and physical state, resulting from prior experiences, attitudes, skills, abilities, and personality.
Since UX contains many branches under one name, it’s especially difficult for new designers to navigate through such complex concepts. Before diving into this vast and endless ocean, junior designers should create a roadmap for themself just as a usability practitioner would with a User Experience project plan.
Step 1: Decide Which Path to Follow
You want to ask yourself why do you want to be a UX designer in the first place. Most hiring managers want to hear about your journey and decision-making process, and not just someone who jumped into UX because it’s “hot” right now or assume it’s an easy way to boost their salary. However, if you believe you have a significant passion for problem solving, optimizing complex interfaces, and helping other humans, then UX may be the right path for you!
Consider asking yourself these critical questions before going down this path:
Do you enjoy talking to other people and getting their opinions?
Do you love the constant journey of learning and change?
Are you prepared to grow and keep up with various yet complementary skills?
Are you attached to the concepts and things you create, or can you let them go?
Once you realize your strengths and capabilities it gets easier to realize where your passion lies, and the following questions should give you a snapshot of the type of thinking that makes a great designer.
Step 2: Steep Hills of Learnings
So now that you’ve made the commitment of planning your UX career, it’s time to set goals to navigate the steep hills of learning. Maybe your goal is to land your first UX job or grow your skills to navigate into a more senior role. Based on your goal it’s important to think about your to-do list that you’ll need to accomplish this goal in a specified time period. The steep hills are only manageable if you break down your goal into mini tasks and create deadlines in between each task. That way you can be more conscious about your time, and less likely to quit your goal as you’ll be celebrating your smaller accomplishments while navigating through the steep hills of learning. Before setting up your goals make sure to be realistic about what you can accomplish while sustaining your day to day routine.
Step 3: Plan Your Path
Once you have a rough idea of the goals you want to achieve in a specific time period, you can start to elaborate on them. There is no fixed formula for this but you can find my suggestions below.
Tips for Creating a Learning Path:
- Start by outlining 1 to 3 bigger goals (Make sure it’s something you’re likely to achieve within 5 to 8 months at the most).
- Make sure the goals are not vague but rather direct as possible.
- Goal: As a junior designer I want to increase my knowledge in UX research.
- Focus on the benefits of your main goals.
- Description: Research skills will help me to understand what features and design decisions to prioritize.
- Task: Take a foundation level online course related to User Research methodologies.
- Recurring Task: Attend User Research related webinar once a week.
- Set yourself a rough timeline to achieve your goals.
- Keep it simple! Try not to overcomplicate your tasks.
- Engage with colleagues and mentors to share your new knowledge. Additionally, you can keep a journal to keep track of your new knowledge.
- Review and modify your path to keep it relevant to your needs.
Once you’ve created an outline, it’s time to find the best tools to track your progress. I recommend using Google calendar to set yourself recurring events and reminders to make it happen! Alternatively, you can use an app such as Trello or any other project/goal tracking tool you’d prefer.
Step 4: Gather Your Resources
The best way to get better at UX is to increase your fundamental knowledge. This is something you can gain on your own, without taking expensive classes or a formal training program. You can acquire this knowledge through free or affordable sources like these:
You can also go through the formal training route if you are ready to make that investment. Book knowledge provides you the basics and gives you a foundation for deeper learning. The next steps to book knowledge is to apply it to real life projects. The only way to be your best is to practice this newly found knowledge until you can do it without thinking!
Resource Suggestions to Increase Your UX Knowledge:
- User Testing https://www.usertesting.com/resources/webinars
- InVision https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/category/webinars/
- UXPA https://uxpa.org/past-webinars
- Why UX by Helena Levison & Dovile Janule
- User Defenders by Jason Ogle
- Design Details by Marshall Bock and Brian Lovin
- Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug
- Atomic Design by Brad Frost
- The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design by IDEO
Free Online Courses
- User Research – Methods and Best Practices by Interaction Design Foundation
- User Experience Research and Design Specialization by University of Michigan
- Human Computer Interaction by Georgia Tech
This could be a very small but effective list of resources for a starter. The hardest thing is to commit to the path of learning. The rest comes more naturally as you go. I’m all ears for hearing suggestions for more or better sources to learn UX. Comment below and share your resources.