Getting into UX design is a lot simpler than most schools or bootcamps would have you believe. There are a lot of free or low-cost resources out there that will give you a solid foundation you can build upon.
But the most important thing to do is to just start practicing.
The easy way is to take a decently designed, but flawed product (don’t do terrible, that’s too easy!) and redesign it, do some usability tests, and refine it.
But the best way is to reach out to some non-profits and offer to do some pro bono work for them. If you’re able, try to find a developer to help you bring your designs to life—there are plenty of fresh bootcamp developers out there that are in the same boat.
I emphasize working with real stakeholders because that skill is probably one of the most underdeveloped out there, but it’s absolutely critical to having a successful UX design career.
If you learn nothing else, learn how to properly do usability testing well. That alone will help you come to a decent solution simply through trial and error.
Steven Krug’s books are must-reads for learning how to do usability testing well:
- Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
- Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems
Together, they founded the Nielsen Norman Group. Their older stuff (throwback to the 90s!) is the best stuff because it was largely written by Jakob himself. The newer stuff is ok but Jakob mostly handed the blog off to his team and they seem to focus a bit too much on design artifacts for my taste. http://www.nngroup.com/articles/
And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Don’s book, The Design of Everyday Things I still have yet to read this 😬, but literally everyone says it’s a must read, so I’ll be checking it out soon.
Baymard Institue largely focuses on e-commerce UX. However, I find many of their findings can be extrapolated. What I love about Baymard is that they don’t do any opinion pieces and just stick to posting UX research findings. https://baymard.com/blog
Luke Wroblewski has amazing insights on usability—particularly on mobile. He’s been quiet lately, but there’s still a lot to learn from his older content.
Designing for Emotion is a favorite of mine. I refer back to it anytime I work for branding on a company as it has some exercises in there to help you create a brand persona which helps keep your design and copy true to the core. Designing for Emotion
If you’re a podcast person, Jared Spool’s UIE covers a range of topics that I found helpful. It hasn’t been updated in a long time, but again, the content is still great.
Jared also helps run a community where they have live chats with guests on a variety of topics:
Leaders of Awesomeness
Many UX designers make the mistake of focusing only on UX and not learning how to actually design good-looking UIs. The reality is the majority of UX jobs out there are going to ask you to do this. If you don’t know how, you’re going to do it poorly and learn the hard way that aesthetics are just as important in creating a successful design.
Although he has a lot of great UX insights, Steve is more UI-oriented. He’s one of the absolute best UI people in the industry. His book (co-authored by Adam Wathan) made huge waves and you can see how much of the industry has been inspired by his work.
I learned UX well before this was even a thing, so unfortunately, I don’t have anything to recommend here. However, it appears there are some really great resources out there to help you learn. Before purchasing a course, just make sure you do due diligence in looking at reviews before spending any money as there are a lot of grifters out there.
I don’t want to get too negative here, but suffice to say there’s a lot of unsubstantiated opinions that get passed around as facts or best practices.
Since our industry incorporates a lot of psychology, one of the most derided fields of science, it naturally brings along with it the issues of the replication crisis. This is why it’s always important to do usability testing with your users as not all research results translate.
When you’re first starting out, I would be careful about Medium. There are a lot of really great articles, but there’s also a lot of low quality and just plain wrong content. It’ll be more difficult for you to discern the wheat from the chaff when you’re first starting out, so I typically recommend staying away from anything that isn’t from a well known UX publication such as UX Planet.
I wish you the best in your journey into UI/UX design! I hope these resources help guide you in building out a good foundation in UX design.
If you’re in the Phoenix valley, drop me a line and I’d love to meet up for coffee and help you in any way I can.
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