The job market for UX (user experience) design professionals has grown tremendously in the past decade. “Boot camps” and other educational opportunities to help people train and enter this field have also proliferated. But what exactly is UX, and is it right for you? And if you are interested, what’s the best way to get into the profession?
Because the field has grown so quickly, there’s some confusion over who does what. For instance, UX and UI, both essential to the digital product design process, involve very different work. UX focuses on the end-user’s interaction with the company or brand, and its services and products, both digital and physical. UX designers want to understand what drives and influences human behavior in this interaction. They want to uncover the pain points that must be resolved and the overall journey of the customer.
UI, or user interface design, complements UX. UI designers are “behind the scenes,” creating the look and feel, and interactivity of a digital product. Their focus is on the aesthetic experience, how the user interacts, for instance, via their smartphone or tablet, or the touch screen at a kiosk.
In this article, we’ll focus on UX design. UX encompasses multiple skills and different roles. That’s part of what makes it so exciting. Consider your personality. Are you creative and enjoy thinking outside the box? Or do you prefer logic and creating structure? Think about yourself as you read these three roles within UX design.
Education in UX design is available from many different sources both online and in-person including colleges, universities and trade schools who often offer boot camps and certificate programs. If you’re not sure about committing to a program, attend as many free webinars as you can to learn more about the field.
In addition to formal training, employers want to see real work so it’s crucial to get practical experience and build your own portfolio. You can accomplish this via a variety of means:
Networking is another great avenue to learning more about UX. There are over 15 networking and professional communities on LinkedIn, Slack, Facebook and Reddit to help you meet others in the field. Research the kind of work you’d like to do by connecting with current UX professionals. Ask if you can do a quick informational interview over Zoom to find out what they like about their work and how they got to where they are today. Most people are happy to help someone else along in their journey. And, who knows? Their company might have an internship or apprenticeship program, or an entry level job opening.
Employers want to see what you can do. Even if you think you aren’t the best qualified for the position, go for the interview any way. We had a candidate, for example, that had much less experience than the hiring company requested for an open UX research position. But in the interview, she did a live UX activity with them where she produced real work. The candidate demonstrated such a unique thought process, with so much more creativity than more experienced jobseekers, that she was offered the job.
UX design is a growing profession that offers interesting work that is much in demand. Luckily, there are many resources available for learning about the field from formal education to free webinars to networking with current UX designers. If you are intuitive and empathetic, curious and creative, and enjoy problem-solving, consider UX design for your next career move.