December 21, 2018
Are you currently a visual designer, web designer, print designer or illustrator looking to make a career change? Thinking about making the switch to the world of UX and how you actually make the switch? You’re probably asking yourself: What things should be considered, what exactly does a UX Designer do, and what can be expected? Well first, let’s take a look at what Chasm Communications considers a UX Designer.
At some firms, there is little difference between a Visual Designer and a UX Designer. Take a Visual Designer, sprinkle on some user personas and BAM! Instant UX Designer. At Chasm, a little more is expected. Aside from the skillset and knowledge of working in visual design and related tools (such as Sketch), UX Designers are expected to have knowledge and participate in the entire process of UX Design. This means the ability to facilitate sessions with leadership and users alike, run sketching sessions and discovery sessions, sketch out ideas, create low-fidelity and high-fidelity designs, share them and refine them with clients and developers. In addition to being able to run usability testing sessions (qualitative and quantitative), feedback sessions, quality assurance exercises, and more – all on an iterative schedule in an ever-changing agile environment.
This may seem obvious but I’m going to say it anyway: the first thing you should do if you are looking to become a UX Designer is to better understand exactly what UX is. In order to do that, it’s best to take some kind of online course. I recommend UX and Web Design Master Course: Strategy, Design, Development by Udemy. Although this class takes you through UX using Photoshop, it is still a great place to start to learn what UX is and how it is applied. Coursera also has a Learn UI Design course that is great for those looking to get into the industry. The point is, take a class or two.
The next thing you want to do is stay apprised of all the major blogs related to the UX world. I mean, do you even know who Jakob Nielsen is bro? Below is a list of some of the major ones to get you started. These blogs provide great information and they are recognized across the industry.
The third thing you want to do is start learning the tools. While some might say you need to know Photoshop and Illustrator, the multitude of design firms these days have switched to the Mac-based application, Sketch. However, Sketch isn’t enough alone. You should also look into Axure, InVision and UXPin. Learn how to create using these tools of the trade quickly, cleanly, and accurately. Firms from Google to Chasm use these tools on a regular basis to drive ideas and communicate visually with clients and developers alike. Every industry has its tools – UX is no different.
Next, I would start looking into perhaps the biggest thing you will need: skills. It’s time to do some research, and start taking notes. You will need to know how to make user personas, journey maps, and how to do (at a minimum!) qualitative user testing. You need to master the art of brainstorming, research how to successfully facilitate sessions, and brush up on your communication skills. Above all else, you need to learn to understand empathy. Providing delightful, meaningful experiences for users is what it’s all about after all, right?
The fifth and final thing? Putting it all together to create a portfolio. Pick a business or two. Examine what they have. Learn their users. Run some testing sessions. Create new experiences that serve and delight their users better. Practice. Explore. Realize. Help make experiences for enterprise applications more usable and consumable. Make the user’s life easier, more constructive. Save their brain power for their passions instead of figuring out your UI.
Then, go get that new career!