The last few years have seen the emergence of what I think is one of the most fascinating areas of web design: User Experience. In 2014, the term User Experience became much more mainstream as organisations began adopting User-centered Design in their thinking.
User-centered design, usability, and a wealth of other names for following a customer centric approach to designing products became commonplace, and this growth has lead to an acute shortage of talent with certain skill-sets. This is providing an excellent opportunity for designers and developers to get involved in what is one of the most exciting movements in recent times.
Because of the rise in UX and the real buzz it's making, I am regularly asked by design and development talent about the best ways of breaking into UX, so I thought I would put a few of my thoughts down which will help you take steps towards achieving a great UX career.
Impress with your UX knowledge
This seems like an obvious one, but I often speak to talent who have a desire to move into UX but haven’t researched the basics such as what are the different roles and what the different skill sets that are even required. Also, they haven’t thought about which areas of UX really interest them.
- The term “UX designer” is too broad a title now, so you must be specific about your skill set. Are you a Visual Designer and/or Interaction Designer, a User Researcher or an Information Architect? There is a disambiguation developing in UX and companies are becoming much more aware of the varied skill sets of each role.
- There is a huge amount of information online to help you differentiate between the responsibilities of each role within the wider term. Check out UX Mastery and UX Matters.
Get an education – Keep learning
If you are serious about achieving a career in UX, you should start studying now.
- There are a wealth of books out there. Publications like "Get Started in UX" by the guys at UX Mastery is an awesome introduction and a great read. Other great books worth having a look at are “Don't Make Me Think” by Steve Krug and “Design For The Real World” By Victor Papanek.
- There are some outstanding blogs to subscribe to as well. UX Booth has loads of awesome information; also check out this list of the top 20 UX blogs.
- Find a UX MOOC like UX Fundamentals from Aquent Gymnasium or find a course from somewhere like General Assembly who run various courses in User Experience. There is huge amount of content online to help you learn about the different mindsets and methodologies within the UX field.
Get out there
Another great way to learn is to engage with the UX community both online and at events such as seminars, meet ups, and other networking functions. This is probably the best way to hear about the latest trends within UX and a great opportunity to ask questions. I have always found that UXers are a sociable bunch, so will happily share their knowledge and insights. Don’t be shy to ask questions as a lot of the people were, or still are, in your situation. Who knows - these could even lead to job opportunities!
Evolve your folio
Adding a section to your online folio with some self initiated UX projects is a great way to demonstrate to your prospective employer your understanding. Give yourself a brief such as redesigning a website and complete it as if it were a real project. Ideate! Make a note of your methodologies, your wireframes and your research. If you have an interest in moving into User Research, why don’t you actually interview some people and compile your findings? If Interaction Design is your thing, mock up some lo fi prototypes?
And last but not least, DON’T GIVE UP!
Moving your career in a different direction is never going to be easy and there will be knock backs, but if you apply yourself with diligence, tenacity, and if you put in the time, opportunities will present themselves. Got a question about your UX career? Ask me in the comments section below. More reading: How to tap into connected communication to super-charge your career A designer's portfolio: art vs strategy Be the Michael Jordan of job hunters
About Michael Rummery
Having started in recruitment over 12 years ago in London in the Information Technology industry, I have spent the last 5 years in Melbourne working with leading corporate clients across a range of industry sectors. I have a passion for placing the best talent into the best jobs, focusing on providing an exceptional service to both my clients and candidates. I pride myself on my professionalism and enthusiasm to get the best result for everyone. I am keen to engage with industry leaders who are passionate about all things in the digital creative and development space so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.