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Card sorting of a UCD session

UX Design as a Career

A Simple Guide

Gone are the days when Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers were the only profession that you could have. Nowadays, people are more open to many different non-conventional career paths. Students are eager to explore and find out what they like best and what they are good at. Some even start working young by teaching themselves skills that intrigue them off the Internet. Speaking of which, the World Wide Web has introduced us to an experience similar to none. With improving technology comes a better experience of the user. This need to satisfy the users has brought about the boom of User Experience (UX).

What is User Experience?

ISO 9241-210 (Ergonomics of human-system interaction) defines user experience as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use or anticipated use of a product, system or service”.

UX Design is based on human computer interaction, which is why usability is one of the core values of UX. Web design is not all that UX comprises. UX Design entails many software disciplines.

UI is not UX but a part of it.  UX is everything about creating a whole product experience while UI is about creating interfaces that user can see and feel. Essentially, UI designers create the medium for the user to feel the experience designed by a UX designer. Now that we know the difference between a UX and UI designer, we are ready to work on our career path.

Read more on What is UX?

Is formal education on UX Design an absolute must?

No. However, a degree of training on UX will always add as a benefit. In Bangladesh, the only place to learn UX is Userhub. If you already have a degree in Graphics Design, Visual Design, UI Design, Interaction Design or Human Computer Interaction design, then making your way into UX would be fairly easy. Even a degree in psychology will help.

I would not suggest directly jumping online for free e-books or courses available without any prior basic knowledge of UX as that can be pretty daunting especially when you don’t have your basic knowledge of UX.

Do I have what it takes to be a UX Designer?

Honestly, assess yourself if UX is something that interests you and suits your nature and personality.

A UX designer must be

  • Passionate for techniques
  • Curious for knowledge and how things work
  • Empathetic towards the feelings of others
  • Self-educating to learn constantly and build up knowledge and skills
  • Detail oriented to add details and steps in order to create a full experience for users
  • Open to feedback as there is no room for ego in creating experiences for others.

Mentor Hunt

Whiles classes and e-books are there for the knowledge but a practical hands on experience teaches new things that books cannot. Learning from someone who is already experienced in the field gives a boost to the career. UX professionals are usually very busy so even if you find someone who is willing to offer you guidance via phone or Skype, gladly accept it. If you can pay for a mentor, please do. Take in information on UX designing and help from anyone experienced. It doesn’t always have to be an individual. Internships for UX can give you the kick start for your career too. Userhub provides internship to qualified UX students.

Is Learning to Code Mandatory?

No. However, coding knowledge helps an UX designer to produce effective products. Front- end development such as basic HTML and CSS is always encouraged. Since designs eventually need to be built, understanding coding helps one to get the whole process better.

Personal UX Projects

UX knowledge does little help if you don’t have your own work. Actual projects of your own will help employers gauge your capabilities better.  Theoretical assignments don’t provide the experience you need to grow professionally in the field of UX.  When you are working on a persona or card sorting for ideation, the experience gained will be different than that of what you had while doing your assignment. Attend workshops, offer to help design websites for people you need. You can design banners for events.  When you work on actual projects it makes you realize the everyday challenges of an UX designer. How you overcome them will let your future employer know your capabilities.

Get on Moving

There is no right or wrong way of becoming an UX designer. If you are already in the technological field, you can still work your way into UX. Just incorporate UX into your daily technical tasks.

For students who just got their A-levels or HSC done, please enroll yourself into a UX program in your city. If that is not possible, then please read as much as you can on UX and build up your knowledge. Also, keep it mind that UI is not UX but a part of it. Practice what you learn till you see yourself getting better at it.

There are about 8000+ jobs for UX designers in LinkedIn itself. So next time someone tells you there is no career in user experience, ask them to take a second look.

Good Luck

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