UX design or User Experience design is a method that design teams use to provide a relevant and meaningful experience for end-users. It involves the entire process of integrating the product, along with important aspects like branding, product design, usability, and function.
It’s hard for most of us to define a good user experience. You just know it when you see it. But generally speaking, a good user experience meets the needs of the target consumer. A great user experience goes above and beyond their expectations.
And naturally, you want to be a great UX designer. That means you’ll need a comprehensive education in UX design. Here are some of the most common pathways to this exciting career, and the pros and cons of each one.
UX vs UI Design
Another term that’s used interchangeably with UX is UI. UX deals with a user’s experience while interacting with a product or service. UX is the process of developing designs that make this experience enjoyable. On the other hand, UI is more visual. It deals with the aesthetics, look, feel of a product, interactivity, and presentation. UI designers focus more on making a phenomenal visual experience for the client.
UX design involves the knowledge of various disciplines like psychology, market research, business strategies, design, technology, and even copywriting to an extent. In addition to the aesthetics of a product or technology, a good UX designer must be able to tap into the consumer’s psyche. The goal is to develop a product that matches or exceeds user expectations.
UX by itself is a broad term, and there are various specializations that a candidate can opt for as a User Experience Designer. They are listed as follows:
- Voice User Interface (UI)
- Chat User Interface (UI)
- Artificial Intelligence personalities (AI)
- Information Visualization
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Automotive UX
- Haptic User Interface (UI)
Job Scope And Salaries
With the boom in technology and the world going digital, the demand for UX designers is rising. As stated above, a UX designer is quite knowledgeable in a variety of fields that deal with marketing, consumer psychology, design skills, and more. The extensive requirements make it difficult to find designers that can handle all of these complex human-machine interactions.
A UX designer should have an increased capacity to handle any issues whether they’re technical, spatial, or kinaesthetic. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence(AI), the demand for UX designers who can seamlessly bridge the gap between machine and human interactions is increasing. In this day and age, UX design is one of the safest and wisest choices you can make to ensure a flourishing career for years to come.
Salaries for UX designers vary dependent on the level of experience and skill set. However, the average UX designer in the USA takes home around $85,000 per year. The starting salaries can range from $50,000 per year, and highly experienced UX designers can reach an average of $130,000 per year. American cities like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle offer some of the highest salaries in the field.
If you want to get into the field of UX design, there are tons of great UX schools. Some even help you land jobs with Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft.
UX Schools And Learning Options
To become a UX designer, you need to learn the skills. If you’re new in this field, there are several options to choose from. One of the first options is to enroll in graduate programs.
The prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers one of the best programs for UX in the US. This is a two-year program that offers part-time courses for about three months. It requires students to be available 6-8 hours per week for lectures. This course is mainly designed for experienced professionals who are in the field of product design.
MIT’s media lab admits students into their UX design course from fields related to arts and music, all the way to computers and engineering. Though MIT is highly selective, those who make the cut may have access to full financial support during the term of their research.
Stanford University has a two-year full-time master’s program in UX design as part of their Human-Computer interaction program. This course is mainly targeted at students or professionals that belong to the engineering and computer science domain.
Carnegie Mellon’s Masters of Human-Computer Interaction is one of the oldest trendsetter programs for UX. In this year-long intensive master’s degree, students team up with industry partners to develop real-time solutions to their problems and help synergize human-computer interactions.
The University of California based in San Diego offers a two-year online certificate program called “Interaction Design Specialization”. This is one of the best distance learning programs on UX. There are other UX Design programs offered on the same campus as well, which can be either partially or fully taken online. These courses run for about 15-21 months depending on the number of courses taken.
The Purdue Polytechnic Institute offers an MS in Computer Graphics Technology, which focuses on human-centered design and development. The University of Purdue is recognized for its excellent research as well as affordability.
There are several other highly ranked, reputable, and affordable degrees offered in UX. These are offered by the University of California at Berkeley and Irvine, Michigan Institute of Technology, Rochester, San Jose University, the University of Texas at Austin, Georgia Tech., University of Virginia, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and so on. As you can see, the popularity and demand for UX is clear by the number of programs offered around the States.
However, if you don’t want to go back to college, there are tons of other great options. These courses are an affordable and time-efficient way to learn UX design.
Springboard- This offers UX design programs for free. The program consists of a total of over 62 hours of material and can be accessed at your own pace. This course is mainly suited for beginners.
Hackdesign- This is another free design course where lessons are delivered to your email inbox every week, which includes links to articles, video tutorials, etc.
Lynda.com- Lynda.com is a LinkedIn partner that offers certification programs in UX design, with video tutorials and practice sessions. There’s a free preview of the course available as well.
Skillshare- Skillshare is an online learning platform that offers a myriad of specially curated courses in UX design, many of which are available for free.
Coursera- Most of their courses in UX design are in collaboration with US-based universities. They offer both self-paced as well as timed certificate courses, with the duration ranging between four to twelve weeks. Most of their courses are paid, but financial assistance is available.
Career Foundry- Career Foundry offers a part-time course in UX design that’s completed within a year. Their courses are also paid, but they guarantee a job within 6 months.
Mockplus- Mockplus offers free tutorials and other resources to learn UX design.
NovoEd- NovoEd is a collaborative learning platform that offers a free 5-week course, and many other resources like podcasts, blogs, tutorials on UX design.
Eventbrite- Eventbrite is a paid portal with UX courses designed mainly for start-ups, app developers, and web designers.
Thinkful- Our popular digital platform offers online courses that are designed to get you hired. And since one size does not fit all, we’ve developed two different formats: a flexible, part-time course, and an immersive full-time course that takes 5 months with a commitment of 50-60 hours per week.
Our students benefit from 1-on-1 mentorship with professionals who have excellent academic knowledge in the field. You’ll get expert opinions and valuable feedback on your work. Our mentors also host question-answer sessions with other industry professionals, which gives youthe students a glimpse into the world of UX design. We also offer flexible time slots for your mentorship sessions, so that you can find a time that works for you.
The best part about Thinkful is that we offer a job placement guarantee or you’ll get your money back. This is rarely offered anywhere else, which says a lot. Another added advantage is that our payment options are very flexible. On top of that, we provide lifetime access to our course curriculum. Students that want a thriving career in UX design can always rely on Thinkful to deliver the best courses possible.
Can You Teach Yourself UX?
Apart from formal educational setups and online coaching centers, an aspiring UX designer can leverage many online podcasts, blogs, video lectures, and tutorials free of cost. UX Collective, UX Planet, and Google Design are some popular UX publications available over Medium. Creative Bloq is another platform where a beginner can learn all about graphic design, market requirements, and hiring trends.
If you want to start a UX career in the software industry, which includes web and mobile design, you also need to know programming. Having knowledge of languages like HTML and CSS can help a UX designer understand how a website is built post design phase.
HTML and CSS skills are easy to learn and require no major investment on the software side. There are also several free articles, technical blogs, and YouTube channels maintained by experts that explain HTML and CSS from scratch.
We hope we’ve helped you decide on a UX school. If you have any questions about learning UX design, contact a member of our team. We’re more than happy to lead you in the right direction to start your dream career!