Interview

Yvonne, Stacy, Sanket

How to Become a UX Designer

December 11, 2020
Interview
December 11, 2020

Yvonne, Stacy, Sanket

How to Become a UX Designer

Do you want to become a UX designer whose works will be set as an example for beginners? Do you want your expertise to be highly valued in the market and customers to come from just everywhere?

Stop dreaming! It’s time to make your plans real, because all these are quite achievable goals! And FlowMapp together with three experienced UX designers will teach you how to achieve them! Let’s start with our detailed intro and end with the best tips from the professionals questioned! 🙃

What Is UX Design?

Firstly, let’s connect the dots and discover what’s UX, which is one of the top hard skills for 2020, according to LinkedIn. Experts state that the user experience industry includes research, strategy, visual and interactive design, content, data science, and many other components that enrich the experience of any user who interacts with a website or application.

This is the key point of becoming a UX designer. One should master all these skills to perform their best in this role. As a result, a user experience designer is responsible for:

  • Wireframes
  • Prototypes
  • Customer journey maps
  • Sitemaps
  • Storyboards
  • UX documentation

So, if you’re ready to research, analyze, test tons of variables that make a user’s interaction with a product or service clear and convenient, you have every chance to become a good UX designer.

Why Is It so Important?

A decade ago, there weren’t so many design specialties and people chose to be just web designers. Nowadays, there are so many design directions:

  • User experience (UX) design
  • User interface (UI) design
  • Customer journey maps
  • Motion and interactive design (IxD)
  • Graphic and visual design
  • Information architecture (IA)
  • Service design (SD)

We won’t describe each of them and will consider you, dear reader, as a future user experience designer who is fully sure to become a professional in this field. If you’re interested in another specialization, find more information on it in our blog.

As for the importance of UX design, it has recently become the key to the success of apps and websites. It defines whether a user will be satisfied with their work with the product. For example, if there are two similar apps with the same tools, the one with better UX will win the audience.

UX has recently become the key to the success of apps and websites

Also, this is the reason why companies should have separate people performing UI, UX, IxD and other design tasks. If they force you to do everything at once, think twice before accepting the offer, as it’s a possible issue for those who want to grow as only user experience designers!

What Difficulties Newbie UX Designers Face?

Okay, you’re a beginner in UX. No way to success is possible without mistakes. Commonly, these mistakes are similar from case to case, so you can learn from others’ experience and avoid them. Here are the most widespread drawbacks of UX design:

  1. Complicated user journey.
    Sometimes, fancy menus and creative content layout might cause the WOW-effect, but in most cases, they only keep potential customers from the conversion. The best idea is to keep things as simple as possible. Users come to a website or app to fulfill their needs. So, when you’ll be adding a new element, decide whether it will simplify the user’s interaction with the product.
  2. Usability challenges.
    After several years as a UX designer, usability will be a piece of cake for you. Nevertheless, when you’re just starting your way, pay more attention to classic usability rules. For example, the F-shaped pattern — bear in mind that most of the world’s customers read from left to right and from top to bottom. Content should be easy to find at a first glance. Otherwise, people won’t be able to use the information if they don’t find it.
  3. Visual noise.
    In the era of minimalism and the high pace of life, users won’t spend several minutes looking through tons of creative visuals on the site. Sure, you want to make the resource beautiful, still, ask yourself if users get distracted with all your creatives.
the reason why companies should have separate UI, UX and other design tasks

These are not the only issues beginners in user experience come across. The rest of the common mistakes will be covered below, in our exclusive interviews with senior UX designers 🚀

How Can Beginners Cope with UX Issues?

The first and foremost tip to hone your skills is a constant education. No matter how you’ll learn — with a mentor, with the help of online courses, or by reading UX blogs on the Internet or watching thematic YouTube videos. Pay attention to the following things:

  1. Learn the basics.
    A house can’t be built without a foundation. The theory of UX design will be your foundation for developing your own experience.
  2. Develop your design thinking and skills.
    Theoretic knowledge is great, but it won’t work without practice. Study and exercise for yourself to gain experience.
  3. Know innovative UX tools.
    You won’t try everything overnight, but finding the right tool is essential. Technology helps you save time for creativity.
  4. Find inspiration.
    Look at the works of other designers. Subscribe to Behance or Dribble to keep an eye on the latest trends and find new ideas for yourself.
  5. Become a part of the UX design community.
    People can share valuable information for free. They will provide you with recommendations and ideas, so feel free to communicate more!

If you’re still wondering how to overcome yourself, see the expert comments below. Five senior designers told us the top secrets of enhancing soft and hard skills to create the smoothest user experience ever!

What Is Necessary for Becoming a Successful UX Designer?

Except for everything mentioned above (learning the basics, choosing the right tools, and so on), we can recommend some more tips for you to hone your UX skills:

  1. Listen to your audience.
    First, define who these people are, what they like, how they live and make decisions. Read their feedback and lay it to the basics of your design.
  2. Test your design solutions.
    Conduct accessibility testing before embodying your design into a real product. Consider the main factors such as learnability, efficiency, memorability, errors, and satisfaction.
  3. Adapt to new conditions.
    Every industry is changing. Be aware of all the latest trends and include this knowledge in your solutions. Always take into account the current situation.
  4. Hone your soft skills.
    No matter how keen on design theory you are, without the ability to quickly adapt to new conditions, solve problems, communicate, listen, analyze your design won’t overcome competitors’ products.

Finally, we are ready to switch to our interviews with professional designers who shared the best tips and their answers to the question: “What can be considered as a success in UX?” We believe it’s the final point you are striving to achieve, so... fasten your seat belts and let’s start!

How to Become a UX Designer According to the Experts of the Industry

Hi, I am Yvonne Lee, a UX designer

Yvonne Lee is a UX | UI designer who is passionate about centering the design process and product experience around empathy and belonging.

She focuses on creating experiences through research, design, and technology.

First step Towards Becoming a UX Designer — Professional Advice:

I would say that there are a couple of key skills needed to become a UX Designer. I would break it down as such from personal experience:

  1. Genuine interest.
    I believe a genuine interest in whatever career path you take will lead to success and fulfillment because a genuine interest creates passion and drive. I have an art and psychology background so I have an affinity to design and naturally became fascinated with UX research and the design process. So the transition into UX was really exciting for me; it felt like a breath of fresh air. Now when I design, I consciously think about the experience I am creating and remind myself that a well-thought-out design has the power to create a meaningful impact.
  2. Problem solving.
    One of the must-haves is the analytical approach to problem solving. It is important to be curious about the problem itself. I remember when I first stumbled upon design thinking on Stanford D School’s website, it drastically changed how I thought and approached problem solving. When I work on a project, I spend a good amount of time understanding the problem from different angles and empathizing with the users.
  3. Communication.
    As a UX designer, I am constantly working on developing better ways to explain, defend, and negotiate my designs to engineers, clients and stakeholders. Interpersonal skills are hugely important in order to work well in a cross-functional environment.
  4. Curiosity.
    It has become a part of my workflow to continuously look for new ideas from all facets of life. I think the constant curiosity to learn more about the UX practices, new technologies and ideas from a variety of fields can inform my thinking and process as a designer. I have found that this curiosity has allowed me to connect with others and led to insightful personal development as a UX designer.

I think challenges depend on the environment in which you are required to work so they can vary in degree and the hardest challenges in one environment might not be as challenging in another environment or compared to the new problems that might come up. I think one of the challenges is when designers are given unrealistic expectations on the project from not understanding the UX practice. Another challenge one needs to be prepared for is the cycle of continuous iterations, which means you cannot get attached to the design but dedicate yourself to the process of bettering the design with the users in mind and not let yourself get in the way.

Also, communication and feedback are helpful tools. When you are able to effectively communicate, get feedback, and connect with others along the way, then it is easier to overcome these challenges. If you are searching for a mentor, I would reach out to people who you are inspired by or interested in learning from. People are generally happy to share their experience and advice! Adobe has a Discord platform for designers and learners from across the globe to share design ideas, design critique, and portfolio review/advice. During this COVID pandemic, it is a great tool to connect with a community online. I found it helpful to receive feedback and learn from a network of designers.

If you are searching for a mentor, I would reach out to people who you are inspired by or interested in learning from

I enjoy reading blogs from InVision and Medium. They contain a wealth of knowledge on UX practices, design, and business. Currently, I love The Designer Better podcast from InVision. The podcast is structured to explore a topic commonly related to design for each season. They bring on experienced and inspiring designers, developers, and CEOs to converse on the landscape of user experience, the importance of understanding business, and the power of design from the personal experience of the guests. I have gained many insights from listening to people telling their stories, perspectives, the lessons they learned, and how they are paving the way for others!

Interesting Cases and Situations:

Here’s a case from my practice + a piece of advice!

One thing I would say is that I find listening and absorbing information from all sources, not just design-related sources, to be helpful and able to enhance the work you produce because you have more knowledge and access to multi-perspectives.

I remember listening to a finance podcast and there is an episode about how the founder of this media company was successful because the CEO was able to understand people in their cultural and family structure, employment, and the historical context in the U.S. This idea of not homogenizing people as one but to understand and explore all the nuances helped me with the UX interview research that I was conducting at the time. It made me look closer and deeper into the problem we were solving and the individuals involved in the case study.

Conclusions, Do’s and Don’ts

I would say that it is good to do your research and learn as much as you can about UX in general as a field in the beginning when you are thinking about pursuing it. The initial research really helped me gain that introductory understanding of UX, prepared me on what I can expect in this career, and allowed me to evaluate this career path in terms of if it aligns with my talents and values.

Do’s:

  1. Do your research to see what you can learn about UX.
  2. Evaluate to see if this career path is for you.
  3. Get to networking.
    Find like-minded people who are practicing or interested in the field so you can get first-hand details.
  4. Look for inspiration.
    Get inspired by other UX'ers when you are aspiring to achieve your own goal can give you confidence and self-efficiency.
  5. Benefit from mentorship.
    A good mentor can be invaluable as they can provide you with personal experience, how-tos and other support when you need it. Regular conversations with my mentor, the lead UX designer at Frequence, Kenzo Makitani, helped me grow immensely both personally and professionally.
  6. Make a plan.
    Think about how you are going to make this transition happen, see which direction fits you, whether it is a boot camp, getting a mentor, self-learning, etc.

So, dear UX/UI beginners, now you can see that everything is not so complicated as it may seem. You need only the desire to become a professional and the willingness to head towards your goal step by step! Everything is in your hands and we are sure that everything will work out!

Hey, I’m Stacy! UX designer you are looking for

An inspired designer with a technical background, who doesn’t work for her ego, portfolio, or clients... She works for people who need powerful and creative design solutions.

First step Towards Becoming a UX Designer — Professional Advice:

I guess, the recipe for becoming a UX Designer or gaining any other specialization is always pretty similar: Theory + Practice. Still, it’s important to remember that you need to start practicing as soon as possible. By “practice” I mean any exercises that require applying professional skills. So, it’s not necessarily a real job/internship.

Some time ago, I had a mate who wanted to learn a programming language. So, he bought a book and started to read it right away. He was reading every day and completed it in a week or so. But the problem was he didn’t write a line of code during this time! Can you guess what happened next? Of course, he forgot everything he learned! Well, almost everything.

This is why practice is more important. I like to use games to draw an analogy. Let’s say you gain XP points for practicing, and gain a multiplier booster for learning theory. It works perfectly together but doesn’t work at all if we omit any of these parts.

You can't become a UX designer without practice because all your boosters will be multiplied to zero. Wasted. Actually, you can become a UX designer without theory, but your XP points will grow too slowly and it might take years.

You can’t become a UX designer without practice because all your boosters will be multiplied to zero. Wasted

I believe this is typical behavior not only in profession but in business life, relationships, etc. We always feel uncomfortable and very unsure of our skills, and we say, “No, it’s too early to do something. I need to learn more”. But this “learn more” may last the whole life. Sometimes we need to think less and start DOING.’’

As for the community, I believe you shouldn’t trust anyone with no doubt. Even if you’re just a beginner, you should always think, analyze, and ask questions. If somebody gives you the feedback you disagree with, kindly ask questions like “Why is this bad?” or “Why should I do that and avoid something else?”. Professionals always will be able to provide you with an explanation and convince you. If they have nothing to say or their answer sounds like “Well, I don’t know, I just don’t like it,” this should alert you.

I enjoy reading Medium blogs, here is my top 3:

Also, I’m subscribed to the Toptal newsletter. They post exciting content from different experts. This is also a great way to find like-minded people you can follow.

One of my recent findings is UXcel. I wouldn’t say it’s a serious, comprehensive education, but I really like the process of learning. It is super easy and funny, and still useful. I would recommend it for every beginner because it’s an easy way to fall in love with UX. And it still can be helpful for middle and senior designers! :)

Interesting Cases and Situations:

The first case is about “accidents are not accidental.” When I was at the very start of my career, I needed money to buy a laptop because my old one was too slow and was making me very unproductive. My primary income was from just one client sending me small tasks for about 3 hours in a week and also a scholarship grant. But it was such a small amount of money, and I still needed around $1500 to buy a MacBook. I was stressed because I needed a new MacBook for my course work in college, which was coming in 3 months. But I was sure that somehow I would figure out where to get the money. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue how to do it. Suddenly, I’ve got an offer from a client for almost $1500. I was so surprised; this was significant money for me at that time! And this is the exact amount of what I needed! I was still shocked that the client came from like nowhere. I didn’t send any resumes, I didn’t post any messages that I searched for a job. Seems like God sent me that client! And I regarded it as a sign of the right destination.

You only need a pen and paper to start your UX design

Another case is about my first interview experience. Again, I was just a beginner, and I decided to apply as a trainee in a local firm. I was very nervous, and my failures started even before I entered the building. At first, I got off at the wrong bus stop, which made me late for about 15 minutes. Then, I couldn’t find the entrance to the building! Though I usually have a good topographical orientation, not that day. I made an embarrassing call to the HR manager I talked to before and asked her to help me find the entrance. I’m pretty sure she is still laughing at it sometimes. Finally, in the meeting room, I remember myself coming to the table and feeling there is a chair behind me. So I started to sit down and... fell off! I still can’t understand how it happened and why I just fell off the chair! The weirdest thing is that I was only one person laughing at myself in the room. Others kept silent, making me feel even more ridiculous.

Well, I can say one thing — now I’m not afraid of interviews at all! I’ve already had the worst experience, there is no chance it can be worse! :) By the way, can we count it as my superpower?

Conclusions, Do’s and Don’ts

Here’s what I highly recommend and what you should avoid on your way to your UX professionalism:

Do’s:

  1. Compare and analyze.
    You won't ever need a teacher if you learn how to analyze yourself. Constantly compare your work with other good-proven designs.
  2. Get feedback.
    Show your work to the world and learn from it. Also, learn how to learn! If your mentor in offline courses provides you with feedback, you usually receive instructions — and that’s easy. But what if your grandma didn’t like the font you had chosen? Well, this is another kind of feedback, but we can still learn from it. For instance, we can learn how to design for older people.
  3. Understand your job.
    I have several friends who switched from Graphic Design to UX and realized that’s not their job. One of them said: “I want to be an “artist,” not an “engineer.” Good for them; they realized it, but I constantly face “UX-artists.” Should I say that a UX designer who thinks only about art and visual it’s bad?

Dont’s:

  1. Don't spend too much $$$ until you're sure about UX is your passion.
    You have to be sure about your job before you invest thousands in education. In 2020, education becomes very accessible, especially for IT specializations. So, always start cheap unless you’re a billionaire!
  2. Don't take offense because of bad feedback. Actually, negative feedback is the most valuable because it can reveal things you need to take attention to. No one becomes smarter after a "Nice shot" comment, but the comment "Dude, this color scheme is disgusting" can work well. After all, there is no chance a beginner can create a perfect design. You're just starting; of course, you'll make mistakes unless you're a cheater.
  3. Don't wait too long to apply as a trainee. Practicing is important. The practice on real projects is vital. So, don't try to wait until you're ready, because (spoiler!) you will never be ready.

Hi, I am Sanket, an Indian Designer for UX/UI & Illustrations

Mechanical Engineer turned Product Designer, illustrator, Prefer Tea Over Coffee to be awake, Green Earth Supporter and researcher of strange & unusual. Live and Breathe in India.

First step Towards Becoming a UX Designer — Professional Advice:

As for me, there are only three things to become a UX Designer:

  • Love for design
  • Passion to become a designer
  • Hard work

Now the most common question is: “Can you become a designer without a degree in design? Will you have to go back to school to pursue the career of your dreams?” The answer is: “NO-no-no!”

You don’t have to go to college or any school to become a UX designer. The only thing you need is the determination and dream, as well as confidence that you can design beautiful things that will be pleasing to the eye and — most importantly — to the soul.

Dribbble is the main source of inspiration for me.

Dribbble is the main source of inspiration for me

Rogie is one of the experienced and founding designers on Dribbble. I have been following that guy from the very beginning. He is a Product designer and Master illustrator. He has worked on so many brands like Walt Disney, Dribbble, Figma, and so on.

I was so lucky and fortunate to have him as the main inspiration source on Dribbble. 5 years ago, it was extremely difficult to get an invitation to upload your work to Dribbble. I was fortunate that Rogie invited me and allowed me to upload and showcase my work on this website.

Believe me, Dribbble played the most important role in shaping up my career as a designer…

Raj Divan is one of the top designers I have been following for inspiration and motivation. He is a freelance designer based out of India.

As for podcasts, I usually listen to Chris Do on Spotify and enjoy watching him on YouTube as well. He inspired me to think about the other available options. He is a Creative Entrepreneur. After listening to him, I have also started working on a few products and, hopefully, I will also be able to grow from a Creative Designer to an Entrepreneur as well as inspire other designers.

Apart from this, there are so many talented designers doing great work out there. We should make a habit of reading creative blogs and watching other designers. Every designer is a student. We should try to learn whatever we can.

Interesting Cases and Situations:

I am a Mechanical Engineer by Education. I haven’t got any proper education in design. The only thing I had in my mind 5 years ago was “YES, I can design and I will design!”

I had an old Windows PC with 2 GB of RAM. Seriously? Yes…

You might be thinking about how my old computer survived heavy tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. It wasn’t easy to work using such a low-configuration computer... After some time, I was able to get a few projects, so I borrowed a nice and powerful laptop from one of my friends and completed the projects I had. After that, I bought a new MacBook Pro and started using Sketch for designing.

I started working as a Freelancer during my college days. It helped me to pay my college fee. Today I am Head of Design at Signgaze.

I started working as a Freelancer during my college days. It helped me to pay my college fee. Today I am Head of Design at Signgaze

I often used a pen and paper for wireframing, prototyping, and idea generation. It was really difficult to manage different projects, keeping records of them. Creating a User flow diagram was quite a hassle.

Now there are some great tools available that allow you to create stunning wireframes, prototypes, and user flow diagrams very easily. For example, FlowMapp, InVision, Marvel, Axure, etc.

I wish I had a full-stack UX tool in the past. It could have made me a better designer with less hassle.

I wish I had a full-stack UX tool in the past. It could have made me a better designer with less hassle

Also, I can tell you an inspirational story from my experience. I always wanted to become a UX Designer and I started chasing my dreams. Along with UX design, I used to enjoy watching great illustrators out there in the industry. I was not that good at sketching and when I was talking to one of the illustrators out there, asked him a few questions regarding the illustration design field. He told me: “If you are not good enough at sketching, you cannot become an illustrator.”

Uff such a tuff word “No!”

Finally, I thought it was better to become the worst illustrator ever rather than sitting on the bench and watching cool illustrations out there... With practice and determination, I was able to design decent illustrations. And guess what? My illustration skills brought me my first job opportunity as a Visual Designer. I was able to impress them with my UX design skills. I had a full-time job as a UX/UI Designer there and started learning which is still going on.

Long story short, never let yourself feel down if someone is telling you negative things. Always try to overcome such challenges and prove that the whole world is wrong about you. (No one can always be right!)

Conclusions, Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s:

Based on my own experience, I’m gonna share a few pieces of advice that will bring you closer to becoming a UX Designer, no matter what you’re doing right now.

  1. Design is the process.
    The first step towards becoming a UX Designer is to understand what design really is. Design is not what it looks like, design is how it solves the problem. The process starts with design thinking and finding a way to solve the problem. Design is all about finding the right problem and then finding the right solution.
  2. Know how to get started.
    You only need a pen and paper to start your UX design. Identify the problem and try to solve it with the help of wireframing and prototype. A basic prototype is enough to start with.
  3. Dedicate time to user research.
    One of the most important pieces of the puzzle is user research. Try to find a focused group of people/users and ask them questions about their pain points. This will help you to understand the problem. Ask them questions and try to implement those feedback into the design.
“simpler” is always “better.“

Becoming a designer is a continuous process, you can not become a 100% designer ever. This is a continuous process of learning and developing.

Essentially, anyone who makes something that is used by others, be it a chair, a mobile app, or a business process, already does design, whether they’re aware of it or not. However, being a designer takes a little more than that.

Now if you have an idea what the design is, learn tools like Sketch, Figma, and Adobe XD for designing prototypes and wireframes. learn to conduct high-quality user research, and engage in double delivery whenever possible. All doors will be open to you.

Becoming a designer is a continuous process, you can not become a 100% designer ever

Dont’s:

Here are some mistakes I have made at the beginning of my career, which I would advise to not repeat (keep in mind that this is based on my personal experience).

  1. Do not separate UI and UX.
    This is a huge mistake. Both are wide topics of the same chapter I would say. For example, if you are a doctor, you cannot consider one part of the body important and others useless. Similarly, designers are like doctors who solve design problems. 
    A lot of designers believe that UX is more important than UI and they draw examples like “the ‘beautiful and trendy’ interface won’t resolve all users’ issues unless UX is good”. Based on my experience, you have to be good in both UI and UX design... UI is the face and UX is the soul. You can't see the soul, right? To demonstrate the very essence, you have to have a nice appearance. You need to focus on both. Yes, UX can be 70% but do consider that 30% may deliver 100%.
  2. Don’t jump directly into the product.
    It is one of the mistakes new designers make. UX research is necessary to understand the users’ needs, behavior, experience, and overall understanding of the human brain. UX is all about understanding usability. Ultimately, the product is going to be used by different people, not only by designers. I made some mistakes in the past and then realized that user research is extremely important.
    For example, do we usually plan trips without looking for restaurants, booking rooms, finding fuel stations on the highway? No, we don’t. We book hotel rooms, figure out the available routes and fuel stations, and take all the necessary things with us...  Similarly, user research is very important for a better user experience.
  3. Don’t take a fancy way.
    Nowadays, we are more into looking nice rather than making everything good. Do not follow the “fanciness” trend, always try to be minimalistic and realistic. Fancy is temporary, classic is permanent. Try to become a classic player. As a designer, you should consider the implementation part as well. Whatever we are designing should be practically possible to achieve and implement by an engineering team. Believe me, “simpler” is always “better.“
  4. Do not restrict yourself.
    No one knows you better than yourself. Believe in yourself and do what you love and enjoy. Be focused on what you want to do. Never let anyone tell you what you can do and what you can’t.

Written by Tina Podmazina

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