How to learn UX/UI Design

Get acquainted with the terminology, and explore the paid and free resources that can boost your progress in building your profile and body of work.

How to learn UX/UI Design

Last week we talked about UX and UI — what makes them different, how they complement one another, and how they play into your career as a designer.

Today we dive into how to learn UX/UI, the approach you can take, and what resources you can leverage along the awyway.

How to Approach learning UX/UI

What you learn first depends entirely on which sub-discipline you start with.

If you start with UX Design, you’re gonna have to learn Researching methods, gathering and organizing data, creating wireframes, low fidelity and high fidelity prototypes, testing, etc. 

And if UI Design catches your interest, mastering design tools like Figma, learning about layout, typography, and color will be most worthwhile to you. 

Learning UX/UI Design is going to be different from learning other skills, as UX is a vast, multidisciplinary topic, and learning it requires theory, practice, implementation, and learning even after getting the job.

A senior designer also learns all the time because of the ever-evolving nature of the field. But when you’re starting out, you’re likely wondering what’ll give you the best design street cred. In other words: do you need a degree from a University to be a designer?

Bootcamp vs Design Degree

Traditionally, a university degree was the best way to go in just about any field; It was proven, respected, and even prestigious. 

But the tech industry’s ever-evolving and practical nature gave rise to a non-traditional route that’s also proven effective: the Bootcamp. You don’t need a tech/design-related degree to break into UX. There are countless UX designers who have come into the field from seemingly unrelated backgrounds—with or without university degrees.

In the contest between a design degree and a UX Bootcamp, the playing field is a level one—the route you choose really does depend on your needs, goals, and budget. 

What do you need to land a job in UX?

Unlike some other professions, a degree is not necessarily required when on a job hunt. Some companies want a degree in “Human-Computer interaction” degree, but that’s not what they care about the most. And most of the companies, especially startups, don’t really care about your degree. What they all care about is your Portfolio. 

Your hiring managers would want to see How you do what you do — this also indicates that you actually know what you’re talking about. 

Your employers are interested in what (and how well) you can do than how you learned to do it. So in deciding how you’ll learn, the most important factor is what you’ll take away from the learning experience — which means that you have the freedom to pick a route that fits well with your learning style, budget, and other obligations (family, job, etc.).  

UX Bootcamp

A UX Bootcamp is a shorter, usually more intensive program of study that’s focused primarily on a setlist of topics and assignments designed to equip you with the practical skills you need to land a job. 

A Bootcamp can take anywhere from a week to a year to complete depending on how in-depth the curriculum is, how much mentoring and feedback you receive, and how much the program can fit around the rest of your life. 

What you’ll learn will be more specifically focused than a university degree—with learning materials and assignments targeted to teach you how to conduct user research, ideate, and create key deliverables. A good Bootcamp will also include mentorship, portfolio critique, and job preparation.  

So find out what will work best for you - A design Degree or a Bootcamp? Consider the time you’re ready to commit, the amount of money you’re ready to invest, your location and other factors as well. 

And regardless of the path you chose, you’ll need a Portfolio. Here’s why-

UX portfolio

In the world of UX/UI, where methodology matters most, especially in the pursuit of clients and career opportunities. One of the best ways for UX/UI designers to demonstrate methodology and show problem-solving proficiency is through a well-designed portfolio.

Your portfolio is in many ways your most important asset as a UX designer. 

It helps you get an interview for a job, it helps you attract clients for freelance projects, and perhaps surprisingly, it helps you stay focused on your UX career.

Most recruiters evaluate you based on your portfolio. They’ll skim through your portfolio to get a rough idea of you as a UX designer and whether you fit the position they’re looking to fill.

The Interaction Design Foundation gets brutally honest on this: 

If you apply for a UX position without a portfolio, your chances of getting the job is close to zero. It’s like if you arrive at the airport without your passport: you can bet that you’ll not get on your flight.

It’s a significant task to create and maintain your UX design portfolio. After all, you have to make it so enticing that a recruiter will be interested in scheduling an interview with you. But don’t worry, we got you covered here! Here’s a detailed guide to making a stellar portfolio.

Resources

You have a clear idea of what UX and UI are, what schools and training programs might best fit you, and an idea about how to build your portfolio. 

But you want to start learning about UX before committing yourself to a Degree or a Bootcamp. 

Take a look at the following sources to help build the foundation you need to get started:

Courses

  1. Introduction to User Experience Design — Georgia Tech University via Coursera

  2. Interaction Design Specialization — University of California San Diego

  3. User Experience Basics Hosted by Accenture via Futurelearn

  4. Intro to UX Design via CareerFoundry

  5. Google UX Design Professional Certificate

Books

  1. The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

  2. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

  3. 100 Things Every Designer Should Know About People by Susan Weinschenk

  4. Lean UX by Jeff Golthelf and Josh Seiden

  5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

  6. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp

Youtube

  1. The Futur

  2. Flux

  3. NN Group

  4. AJ&Smart

  5. Dansky

Blogs and Publications

  1. Nielsen Norman Group

  2. UX Collective

  3. Prototypr.io

  4. UX Planet

  5. Muzli

  6. Google Design

Tech stack

  1. Sketch/Figma/Adobe XD

  2. Invision

  3. Miro/Mural