User experience or UX design refers to how users perceive a product or a service, how they interact with it, and how they respond to it. The elements of UX design are shaped purely on the basis of what users want and how they feel when they use the product. UX designers use specific processes and tools to develop products that provide meaningful and satisfying experiences for their users.
Since the goal of every business is to satisfy the demands of its customers, user experience is crucial to business success. UX designers enjoy a wide variety of job opportunities, high pay, and challenging, creative work. Let’s take a closer look at how to get hired in your first UX design job.
What Is a UX Designer?
While designing the user experience of a product, UX designers consider three things:
- The factors that motivate a customer to adopt a product
- The functionality of the product—the things people can do using the product
- How to design the product in a way that is both functional and pleasing
The UX design process has three general categories:
- UX research – This involves researching customers to acquire data that is used to make changes in products and improve them.
- Information architecture – UX designers create a strategy using the data collected through user research.
- Product iteration testing – In this stage, UX researchers, designers, and industry professionals use problem-solving expertise to suggest improvements to various versions of a product while it’s being developed.
Getting Hired as a UX Designer
UX design is a popular career choice these days. With the increasing importance of creating optimal user experiences, demand for UX designers is skyrocketing. While it’s a lucrative and ever-expanding career domain, there’s no specific path that you need to follow in order to enter the field.
Most aspiring UX designers will decide on a career pathway based on whether they’re a professional looking to transition into UX design or a complete beginner. UX design is a vast and dynamic field branching out into many specializations, so it’s advisable to decide in advance which area you want to specialize in. For that to happen, you’ll first need identify your interest areas.
You’ll need to explore all the disciplines and then choose one that you want to focus on. Questions you can ask yourself and research include:
- What kind of UX designer do I want to become?
- Which role in UX design interests me – interaction designer, UI designer, motion designer, or product designer?
- Do I want to focus on design, research, or both?
We’ve included below some of the key steps you might want to follow after familiarizing yourself with the broad discipline and choosing a field of specialization.
UX Design Education
This is the first and foremost step to take before getting started in your career as a UX designer. You have to learn about the field. Choose the traditional path of earning a university degree or other paths like online courses, training programs, and bootcamps. You can also choose self-learning.
Going for a university degree will help you strengthen your foundational knowledge of UX design, and ultimately get hired in a UX designer role. But it’s an expensive and time-consuming mode of learning that may not see you actually work on any real projects for some time.
Another pathway is to enrol in training programs and online courses. This mode of learning helps you learn UX practices and the theory behind them while also gaining practical experience.
Our UX/UI Design Online Bootcamp will teach you:
- UX design fundamentals – You’ll learn the ability to use industry tools and assimilate this into your process of analyzing and evaluating solutions.
- Designing your first product – You’ll apply your theoretical knowledge in practical case studies. You’ll use tools like Figma and Sketch and apply concepts to practical use.
- Designing within a team – You’ll learn how to collaborate with a design team and brainstorm design problems to find potential solutions.
- Specialization – Here you can choose a specialization from UX research, web design, and visual design.
- Capstone project – In this phase of your learning, you’ll independently work on a product of your own choice.
Tools for UX Design
Mastering the right tools will be an essential step on your journey to becoming a professional UX designer. There are a wide variety of tools available in the market and you need to select those that best align with your interests. Some of the popular UX design tools are:
- UserTesting – This software could shave off hours of time spent on user research and testing prototypes.
- Stylify Me – Designers often rely on this tool to recreate colors through precise HEX values.
- Sketch – This is an image editor tool used for digital design.
- Color Safe – Find the best contrast balance for readability with this clever software.
- Mural – This tool allows you to brainstorm your ideas and organize concepts.
Choose the tools that allow you to transition from rough prototypes to high quality prototypes quickly. If you can demonstrate a working knowledge of all of the above, then you’ve just increased your odds of landing that UX designer title.
UX Design Skills
Some of the important skills that you need to have to get hired as a UX designer are:
- UX research
- Wireframing and UI prototyping
- UX writing
- Visual communication
- Interaction design
- Communication skills
UX designers are experts at combining their technical knowledge with soft skills, making them great collaborators when working with a large design team.
The right UX design certifications can validate your skills, and may help your application stand out from other UX designers in a competitive job market. Various universities and platforms provide a range of UX certifications. Some of the best ones are:
- UX and UX Master Certification – Nielson Norman Group
- Certified User Experience Analyst – Human Factors International
- Certificate in User Experience and Customer-Centered Design – California State University at Fullerton
- UX Certificate Program – Bentley University’s User Experience Center
These certifications won’t necessarily give you a complete foundation in design principles, but they may give you a competitive edge when applying to entry-level UX designer roles.
Experience in UX Design
The next step is to get practical experience and implement the knowledge and skills you’ve learned through online programs, tools, and certifications. If you’re a working professional UX designer, then you can seek out and work on small UX design projects within your company.
You might also consider a freelance project where you may be able to take on designing tasks, such as redesigning a website or a part of its user experience. You can use freelance experience as an opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills to prospective recruiters. Any hands-on experience will serve you well when competing with other UX designers for a great job.
Create an Outstanding UX Design Portfolio
In the process of getting hired as a UX designer, developing an impressive portfolio is one of the most important steps. It’s a way to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and achievements. Tailor your portfolio to the job you’re applying for and consider adding some UX case studies that you completed during training.
Your portfolio is going to tell the recruiter about the work you’ve done, the projects that you’ve worked on, and your problem solving techniques. Your portfolio is a reflection of your skills and work, and helps employers see the value you’ll bring as a UX designer for their company.
Here are a few steps you can follow to create a great portfolio:
- Create a profile – Start by introducing yourself. Write a clear introduction, a summary of what you’ve done so far, and what you’d like to do in your career in the future. Add your contact information along with links to your other professional accounts.
- Showcase your strengths – Highlight the best designs that you’ve worked on - not all of them. You can showcase your work in many forms, like PDFs, webpages, or a Behance profile. The content should be high quality, irrespective of the medium. For every project that you include in your portfolio, organize the content properly. Show the problem that you worked on, the tools that you used, how you went about solving the problem, which processes you used to solve the problem, and the final outcome.
- Get feedback – After you’ve created your portfolio, ask for professional feedback. It will help you see your content through another perspective. Make any changed if required.
Network with Other UX Designers
It’s important to connect with a network of other UI and UX designers, especially when you’re just starting out. Join a UX group or forum, and look for ways to interact with other professionals in the community.
Nailing the UX Design Interview
Impressing your prospective employer in an interview is of course crucial to getting hired as a UX designer. Once you’ve acquired the necessary knowledge, skills, and work experience in UX design, you can start applying for positions. The interview process will assess your knowledge and skills, so it’s wise to research the commonly asked questions and rehearse your answers.
If you’re currently completing a UX designer training program or online course, it won’t be long before you’ll find yourself facing a job interview. Although every interview is different, there are some commonly asked questions in UX design interviews. You can practice answering these questions to help you narrow down your responses, start thinking about how you’ll formulate answers, and identify your weaknesses.
Interview Questions for UX Designers
Some of the common questions you’ll hear on interviews include:
- What is UX design?
- Why is UX design important?
- Explain the UX design process.
- What is your process as a UX designer?
- Describe the design methods that you follow.
- What’s your process for working with other designers, developers, or product managers?
- How do you decide which features to add to your product?
- Tell us about a UX project that didn’t go as planned. How did you solve the problems? What did you learn from such an experience?
- In your opinion, what’s the next big trend in UX design?