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How to Become a Ux Designer

How to Become a Ux Designer

Take the leap and get in on the ground floor of this high-demand, buzz-worthy career

If you’re interested in making products and websites more accessible, intuitive, and user-friendly, why not give UX design a try? This relatively new career has been attracting a lot of attention, and for very good reason. No matter the industry, it seems like every company wants a UX designer to help improve their products or services. Read on to find out how to get the skills and connections you need to get your foot in the door of this exciting and well-paid career. Within a year or two, you could be starting your new dream job!

[Edit]Things You Should Know

  • Build the UX design skills you need through online courses and research—no college degree needed!
  • Create a portfolio of real or hypothetical projects that showcase your skills and outline your process of finding issues and fixing them to enhance the user experience.
  • Use volunteer and freelance opportunities to gain professional experience in the UX design field.
  • Network with other UX designers to gain connections and jump-start your career as a UX designer.


[Edit]Starting a Career in UX Design

  1. Read online about basic UX principles. Before you get too deep into things, read more about the field so you can decide for yourself if this is really what you want to do. Some good background reading will also help you figure out what you’d like to specialize in. Here are some strong blogs for you to get started:[1]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 1.jpg
    • UX Planet: beginner-friendly blog posts without a lot of jargon; unconventional ideas to get your brain going
    • The Nielsen Norman Group: a pioneer in UX design with super-educational blog posts that explain the core principles of UX
    • A List Apart: light and entertaining writing that’s great for beginners
  2. Take a course to learn fundamental UX design skills. A course that’s focused on portfolio-building (and there are a lot out there) will give you some good hands-on training—and you’ll leave with some polished examples of your work that you can show to potential employers. Some courses are shorter, lasting only a few weeks, while boot camps are more in-depth and typically take several months to complete.[2]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 2.jpg
    • When you’re looking at courses, consider the reputation of the provider, the value of the certification they offer, and the budget you have—some of these courses are free, but a lot of them do charge tuition (typically a few hundred dollars in the US).
    • The Google UX Design Professional Certificate is free and is a great course to start with. You’ll finish in as little as 6 months and have 3 end-to-end projects completed for your portfolio.
  3. Work on some projects to increase your familiarity with UX tools. The only way to get quick with a program is to use it, which could be through an internship or freelance project, or just something you make up on your own. The more practice you have, the smoother it will be for you to use basic UX tools.[3]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 3.jpg
    • Take a look at some UX design job listings, specifically what programs are in demand. That will help you narrow down which programs you should focus on.
  4. Build a portfolio to showcase your best work. As with any design job, a UX designer’s portfolio is their most important asset. Create a website to house your portfolio and upload the projects you’re most proud of. They’ll help potential employers get familiar with your work and your focus as a designer.[4]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 4.jpg
    • A strong portfolio has at least 5 projects that tell a story of who you are as a designer. If you’re just starting out, you might not have that much to work with, but don’t worry—2 or 3 projects is fine when you’re just starting out.
    • If you’re doing projects you’ve made up, focus on exactly what you want to do with UX design and do something at the very heart of your niche. This will show your passion.
  5. Apply to design jobs best suited to your skillset and interests. There are many different job titles in the UX design space, and hundreds of vacancies at any given point. That makes it easy to find possible jobs where you know you could shine.[5]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 5.jpg
    • Competition is fierce, so set up alerts on job boards so you’ll know the second a new listing is posted.

[Edit]Essential UX Design Skills

  1. User research{endbold}
    UX designers have a lot of research methods at their disposal to learn about what people want and need. They analyze the data they gather through interviews, customer feedback, product testing, and focus groups to come up with strategies that will enhance the user experience of a product or service.[6]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 6.jpg
    • Tools of the trade: Optimal Workshop, Lookback, Typeform, Maze, UserZoom, dscout, Hotjar, Reframer, Asana[7]
  2. Visual communication{endbold}
    Good visual design is crucial to improve the usability and functionality of products and services. A beautiful visual design makes any website or product more attractive and engaging, and this is where UX designers come in. The visual design skills necessary make UX design a good pivot for graphic designers.[8]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 7.jpg
    • Tools of the trade: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Sketch, Figma, GIMP[9]
  3. Information architecture{endbold}
    This is technically considered a subset of UX design, although all UX designers work with organizing information to some extent. Knowing how to arrange the information on a website in a logical and intuitive way makes that site more usable. Users have a much better experience when they can quickly and easily find the information they need.[10]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 8.jpg
    • Tools of the trade: Omnigraffle, Axure, Mind Manager, XMind, Treejack
  4. Wireframing{endbold}
    A wireframe is simply an image of a website’s appearance and structure, much like a mockup of a basic design. UX designers create wireframes to test various elements of their design to ensure the finished website is as accessible and user-friendly as possible.[11]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 9.jpg
    • Tools of the trade: UXPin, Balsamiq, Figma, Justinmind[12]
  5. Prototyping{endbold}
    What a wireframe is to a website, a prototype is to a physical product. UX designers create prototypes and test them to learn how people actually use the product and how intuitive the product’s features are.[13]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 10.jpg
    • Tools of the trade: InVision, Proto.io, Adobe XD, Justinmind[14]
  6. Soft skills{endbold}
    In UX design, soft skills are just as important as hard skills. It takes a special kind of person to really get into the head of a user and figure out how to design a product or service to best suit what they want and need. Here are some soft skills every good UX designer has:[15]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 11.jpg
    • Empathy
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Curiosity
    • Communication
    • Collaboration
    • Presentation/public speaking skills

[Edit]Building Your Portfolio

  1. Make up your own projects to practice your skills. It’s an age-old quandary—you need a portfolio to get a job, but you need jobs to create a portfolio. Hypothetical projects work if you’ve got nothing else, and give you the opportunity to showcase your skills. And making up the project yourself allows you to work on something you’re passionate about.[16]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 12.jpg
    • Document the whole process as you go. You’ll want to include snippets about the UX design process in your portfolio to help potential employers understand how you work.
  2. Volunteer your skills to a local small business or nonprofit. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations often have a need for a good UX professional, but might not have the resources to hire one. If you’re just starting out, that’s where you come in! Offering your services gives you a project for your portfolio and a client reference.[17]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 13.jpg
    • Don’t be afraid to cold-call these places. Take a look at their website through the eyes of a UX designer and brainstorm some options that could be more user-friendly. Then shoot a manager an email and explain what you can do for them.
  3. Do an unsolicited redesign of a larger site. Unsolicited redesigns are controversial in the UX community, but they can work well in your portfolio. Here’s the key: put as much work into the project as you would if you actually worked for the company. Be professional and conscientious about it, and your work will stand out.[18]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 14.jpg
    • Talk to actual users of the site and come up with several different redesign ideas—then get those users to try them out.
    • Include the messy process of finding your final solution, then explain why your redesign works well to provide an enhanced user experience.
    • Here’s an easy one: take a social media site you’re active on and talk to the people you know on that site. Find out how you could make the site more user-friendly and intuitive.
  4. Apply UX design principles at your current job. You might not be in the position to actually be a UX designer (yet!), but you can take that core idea of focusing on the user to pretty much any occupation. Part of what makes UX design unique is its ability to transcend industries and apply in a lot of different spaces.[19]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 15.jpg
    • For example, if you’re a barista in a coffee shop, you could redesign the condiment stand so that it was more user-friendly for your patrons. Talk to them about what they need to get ideas, then implement those ideas and see what happens.

[Edit]UX Design Salary and Demand

  1. UX designers make around $76,000 US on average as of 2023. Not bad for a field you can break into without a college degree, right? The fact you can get into this field with relatively little investment means it’s also really competitive, but with a good portfolio and a strong skillset, you’ll stand out in the pack.[20]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 16.jpg
    • UX design also attracts professionals in other fields. For example, UX design might attract a computer engineer who’s more empathetic and wants to do something to advocate for users.
  2. The demand for UX designers has increased by 50% since 2022. It’s safe to say that the demand for UX designers is high across the board, with many companies looking to hire new designers in this rapidly expanding field. While the tech industry overall experienced massive layoffs in 2022 and 2023, the demand for UX designers is still surging.[21]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 17.jpg
    • Many companies that are looking for UX designers aren’t even in the tech space—they’re businesses in other industries that happen to have a website.
    • The cross-industry need for UX professionals is part of what keeps the demand so high.

[Edit]Finding an Entry-Level Job

  1. Make your portfolio accessible online. Your portfolio tells prospective employers the story of who you are as a designer. Build a website that you can easily keep up-to-date with your favorite projects—the designs that make you proud. Showcase them effectively on a beautiful, user-friendly website that’s easy to navigate and get pulled into.[22]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 18.jpg
    • Include drafts and process work—yes, even if it’s messy—so people looking at your profile can see how you approach and work through problems.
    • Your site design is as important as the projects in your portfolio. Work with a developer if you aren’t completely comfortable with web design yourself to make sure your site is seamless and enjoyable to peruse.[23]
  2. Network with aspiring and established UX designers. When you take a UX design course, get contact information for the teachers and the other people taking the course—and keep in touch! Search for UX design groups on platforms such as LinkedIn so you can join in UX design discussions and make connections with other designers.[24]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 19.jpg
    • Check out Design Buddies on Discord and User Experience Design on LinkedIn.
    • There are also several UX design groups on Slack, including the UX Design Community group, which is a great place to get started networking.[25]
    • Ready to take your networking offline? Search Meetup for UX design events in your area.[26]
  3. Take on an internship or freelance project to expand your connections. More intensive UX design courses, such as boot camps, offer great access to internships. And freelance projects give you the opportunity to get your feet wet with a real-world project while also expanding your professional network.[27]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 20.jpg
    • Don’t expect freelance projects to pay very well—especially if the company offering the opportunity is relatively small.
    • Use these opportunities to expand your portfolio and set you up for a full-time position.
  4. Apply to listings posted on job boards online. UX design is a high-demand profession and job listings are plentiful! Apply to as many jobs as you can, even if it seems like a reach. Interviewing with a lot of different companies helps you learn about industry standards and expectations.[28]
    Become a Ux Designer Step 21.jpg
    • The application process helps you manage your own expectations as well. You’ll build a good sense of what roles would work best for you in terms of salary, responsibilities, and work environment.


  1. https://userguiding.com/blog/top-ux-blogs/
  2. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/how-do-i-choose-the-right-ux-course-for-me
  3. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-design-portfolios/
  4. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-design-portfolios/
  5. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/how-to-become-a-ux-designer-careers/
  6. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/which-ux-research-methods/
  7. https://www.uxdesigninstitute.com/blog/best-ux-research-tools/
  8. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/principles-visual-design/
  9. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/ux-designer-tools/
  10. https://www.uxbooth.com/articles/complete-beginners-guide-to-information-architecture/
  11. https://www.ucraft.com/blog/why-wireframes-and-prototypes-are-important-to-ux-design-strategy
  12. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/ux-designer-tools/
  13. https://www.ucraft.com/blog/why-wireframes-and-prototypes-are-important-to-ux-design-strategy
  14. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/ux-designer-tools/
  15. https://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2010/12/essential-and-desirable-skills-for-a-ux-designer.php
  16. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-design-portfolios/
  17. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/how-to-become-a-ux-designer-careers/
  18. https://www.learnui.design/blog/how-create-ux-ui-portfolio-without-much-experience.html
  19. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/ux-design
  20. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=UX_Designer/Salary
  21. https://uxplanet.org/new-job-market-trends-for-ux-design-in-2023-d8a358305a59
  22. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-design-portfolios/
  23. https://vanschneider.com/blog/portfolio-tips/portfolio-tips-from-ux-designers/
  24. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/how-to-become-a-ux-designer-careers/
  25. https://thenextweb.com/news/28-helpful-slack-communities-you-should-join-as-a-ux-designer
  26. https://www.uxbooth.com/articles/complete-beginners-guide-to-information-architecture/
  27. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/how-to-become-a-ux-designer-careers/
  28. https://bootcamp.cvn.columbia.edu/blog/how-to-become-a-ux-designer-careers/


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