Most beginners associate UX design with the use of Figma. But UI/UX design is a broader field of knowledge and skills. In this article, I’ve put together step-by-step tips on becoming a sought-after UX designer.
01. Define your development path
First, you need to decide whether you want to become a UX designer or a UI designer.
User interface designers focus on the visual elements that users interact with. This involves creating interfaces that are visually appealing and user-friendly. The work of UI designers affects the look and feel of a website or application.
UX designers focus on the user experience. They delve into research and conduct usability testing to ensure that the app, website or product is visually appealing, user-friendly, intuitive, and provides a positive experience.
UI/UX designers are responsible for the entire user journey. They work on aesthetics and functionality to create the perfect user interaction with the product.
Think about which path suits you better and what’s more fun — visuals or functionality.
02. Learn the principles of design
It’s helpful for a UI/UX designer to learn several design fundamentals to create practical and attractive interfaces. If you don’t build a solid foundation, you’ll constantly struggle when working on projects and filling in the gaps.
Here are a few key areas to learn at the start:
1. Colour Theory
Colour models: Learning about RGB, CMYK, HSL and other colour models.
Colour Schemes: Understanding basic colour schemes such as monochromatic, analogous, complementary, etc.
Effects of colour: How colour affects emotions and perception.
Grid: Design and use a grid to create orderly and balanced layouts.
Space Allocation: Understanding the principles of placing elements on a page.
Adaptive Design: Creating layouts that adapt well to different screen sizes.
3. Visual Hierarchy
Typography: Choosing appropriate fonts, sizes and styles to manage visual hierarchy.
Colour and Contrast: Using colour and contrast to highlight essential elements.
Size and Space: Controlling the size and placement of elements to create a logical structure.
Choosing Fonts: Understanding the different types of fonts and their use in design.
Leading, Kerning: Working with the space between letters and lines.
Alignment: Using alignment to improve readability.
5. Design Systems
Components and Interface Elements: Creating reusable components to ensure consistency.
Styles and Standards: Establishing rules and standards to ensure consistency in design.
Design System Documentation: Creating documentation for easy collaboration with other team members.
Once you know the basics, you can learn the tools to create user interfaces that are user-friendly, attractive, and functional. However, it’s important to remember that these skills are best learned and developed through practice, so applying them to real-world learning projects is essential.
To get a good foundation, taking courses for beginner UI/UX designers is best.
What courses you can take:
- Principles of UX/UI Design
- UX/UI Design Principles Compact (Theory + Figma Exercise)
- DESIGN RULES: Principles + Practices for Great UI Design
- Introduction to User Experience Design
- Intro to UX: Fundamentals of Usability
- User Experience Design Fundamentals Course
03. Learn the design tools
Once you’ve learned the principles of UI/UX design, it’s worth moving on to practice and learning the tools.
For beginners, I recommend starting with Figma. This tool offers everything a UI/UX designer needs, mainly since most companies use Figma as their primary tool for work.
What tools will be used in 2024?
- Figma is the top tool for UX designers, allowing the team to work on a project simultaneously in real-time.
- Framer: the best tool for creating interactive animated designs and prototypes.
- FigJam: an interactive whiteboard for FigJam designers designed to develop ideas and brainstorm with extended commands and voice comms.
- Sketch: A vector editor designed for interface design and widely used for creating layouts and illustrations.
- Adobe XD: An integrated tool for designing, prototyping and collaborating on UX/UI projects.
- InVision: An interactive prototyping platform that supports collaboration and feedback gathering.
- Axure RP: A tool for creating highly functional prototypes supporting dynamic elements and complex interactions.
- Balsamiq: A tool for creating sketches and prototypes. Suitable for rapid design.
- UserTesting: A user experience testing platform that can test with real users.
- Hotjar: A tool for analysing user behaviour, providing heat maps, session recordings and surveys.
- Lyssna: A platform for gathering feedback on design through testing for attractiveness, usability, and other criteria.
- Zeplin: A collaboration tool for designers and developers that facilitates transferring design to code.
It’s essential to keep up with new trends and UX/UI design tools. But be choosy and practical — don’t rush to master everything.
04. Start designing
You can apply everything you’ve learnt at this stage, even if you don’t have clients. Firstly, you can complete assignments from courses. Secondly, join the challenges that other designers are doing. For example, you can make an app registration page, etc. Third, you can ask the GPT chat to generate project ideas for you. The main thing is to be consistent and create something every day.
At this stage, don’t hesitate to look for references or copy other designers’ solutions for your non-commercial projects. This way, you will learn to look for and see solutions, train your eyesight, learn to see where there are design problems, for example, wrong spacing or unsuccessful colour combination, etc., and understand how you can improve your existing design and make it more visually appealing and user-friendly.
Also, find a community where you can post your design options daily, get professional feedback and grow. In parallel, you will inspire others to experiment and gather a friendly community around you.
05. Make several full-fledged projects
At this stage, you can use the Sharpen — design idea generator.
As you work on your projects, put all the knowledge and skills you have learnt into it.
06. Create a portfolio
What to show in the portfolio?
- Only those works that have to do with UI/UX design. Adding their designed banners, flyers, or presentations is optional.
- The best and strongest works. You don’t need to take quantity. 2–3 projects with examples that show how you solve design tasks are enough; two case studies are enough to show your knowledge and experience.
- Show examples of projects you want to work with in the future. If you’re going to think about design and interface for mobile apps and landing pages, post at least one relevant project each in your portfolio.
07. Apply for the position
Feel free to apply for several jobs at the same time. You can determine what suits you best by looking at the job requirements. During the interview, ask questions about your potential duties and about projects you would work with. This will show that you are interested in the job and help you understand if you like the company and projects or if it is better to look for something else.
Don’t give up if you are rejected at the end of the interview. There are hundreds of responses to vacancies with good conditions. Sometimes, the requirements for job applicants change. If you lacklack experience and are not a good fit now, you may be a good fit later. The main thing is to recognise the reasons and keep developing, including soft skills, which are also paid attention to at interviews.
I wish you in 2024 to find yourself in UI/UX design and get a job in a dream company!
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If I started UX Design in 2024, Here’s What I’d Do! was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.