10 Untold Tricks to Becoming an Expert UX Designer
Written by Chris Richardson
13 August 2018
When you want to become a user experience designer and you’re a complete newbie in this industry, it may seem rather mysterious. Where do you learn the things you need to know? How do you become a pro? How do you connect with the right clients?
We’ll safely assume that if you’re reading this, you already have the initial skills, as well as the needed talent to become good at this job. However, you need specific guidelines that will turn you into an expert, and you’re not after the obvious tips that every other online guide provides. We hear you!
We’ll list 10 non-obvious hacks to becoming a savvy UX designer.
#1 Get Proper Education
The obvious tip would be: learn the basics and start practicing. You’ll develop more skills through practice. It’s strange, but the less obvious advice nowadays would be: just get proper education before you start practicing!
Yes; you can become a self-taught UX designer. However, you still need to learn from somewhere. If you’re a complete beginner, you have to start from the very beginning, and that’s learning.
Keep in mind that user experience design is a pretty broad niche. You have to pick a speciality, such as interaction design, information architecture, or usability training. Each of these areas comes with its own set of concepts to learn. You may gain general education through an online course, and then focus on a more specific area that will help you become an expert.
Take courses and gain proper certificates. Although the clients are mainly after experience, they certainly value education, too. It shows your level of knowledge and your ability to handle different aspects of user experience design.
#2 Understand the Four Main Steps in UX Design
An expert UX designer goes through the four steps when developing a project:
- Identifying a problem
- Testing potential solutions
- Delivering a final solution
- Testing how that solution fixes the problem and improving it along the way.
This process should become a routine for you.
#3 Define Your Career Goals
You should decide what exactly you want to do before you narrow down your education to a specific aspect of UX design. Keep this in mind: there’s always more space for professional growth. This means that you should set higher goals and start working towards them step by step.
It’s important to outline your goals, since they will guide you through all steps you take. If you want to invest in your own startup, for example, the education and experience will take a different road when compared to the one led by the decision to work for a large company.
#4 Invest Time, Effort, and Money in Your Online Portfolio
No; a Behance profile is not enough. You should definitely work on it and start making connections, but it won’t give you enough space to showcase your work and skills. Your personal online portfolio is a must! It will feature elaborate examples of your own projects, as well as case studies that show how your design achieved the user experience effects you were aiming for.
Robert Lucas, professional writer of Essay Geeks, explains: “Many beginner UX designers avoid writing case studies because they don’t know how to do that. They believe that it’s enough to focus on their work and showcase examples of it through an online portfolio. However, a case study is necessary to show the results they achieved with their efforts. That’s why I recommend each UX designer to learn how to write case studies and start featuring them on their personal website.”
#5 Apply What You Learn
Becoming a UX expert has more to do with practice than it does with theory. As soon as you start educating yourself, you should put that knowledge to use. Potential employers won’t hire you just because you say you’re book smart. They will hire you if you show proof of your skills and knowledge in UX design.
There’s one big oxymoron: how can you gain experience when no one is willing to hire you without experience? The solution is in open-source projects. Start contributing to them regardless of the compensation. In addition, you may start your own project to showcase and improve your skills and knowledge. Then, write a report or even a case study for that project, and add it to your online portfolio.
#6 Learn How to Use the Right Tools
Many beginners in this industry are focused on using as many tools as possible. They believe that if they list different UX design tools in their portfolio, they will instantly attract clients. Yes, your ability to use different tools is important. However, there’s something more important: your proficiency to use the right tool.
For beginning, choose a single design tool and become an expert in it. From then on, you can expand your capacity by becoming an expert in the usage of other tools. Take it step by step!
#7 Develop Your Inner Sense of Empathy
Whoa, this was unexpected, wasn’t it? What does a UX designer have to do with empathy? Isn’t that for psychologists and social workers? In a way, you are a psychologist when you’re an expert UX designer. You have to understand what the user expects and how your actions affect their experience.
When you’re working on a project, you have to identify yourself with the needs and feelings of others. That’s called empathy, and it enables you to predict and develop the design that provides the ultimate user experience.
How can you develop the sense of empathy? Just think about other people’s perspectives. Listen to their feedback. You may even send out surveys that will give you the information you need. Whenever you’re developing a project, ask someone to test it and give you their opinion. Try to understand where their remarks are coming from and do your best to improve the experience. Now you get it: empathy is important.
#8 Focus on Getting the User’s Attention!
The final goal of each UX design project is to capture the users’ attention. You want to awaken their desire to use the product you’re delivering, so they will get to the point of gaining user experience. The user interface designer focuses on the appeal of the design. As a user experience designer, you have a different focus: you want the product to be functional enough to meet the user’s needs.
#9 Develop Your Analytical Thinking Skills
Yes, user experience design has a lot to do with empathy and intuition. However, it’s also a highly analytical and intellectual process. You have to research all aspects of the problem and all potential solutions.
Work on your analytical skills! You’ll also need them when you exporting the data through reports and case studies. You’ll have to analyze the achievements through all steps of the process, so you’ll improve the effects of your work.
#10 Learn How to Deal with Failure
As a UX designer, you’ll often have to stand your point of view in front of your team and clients. The clients won’t always approve your work. They will envision different results and they won’t be able to communicate all their needs. Take this as a fact: you won’t always meet their expectations.
It’s important to be less emotional about your work. Remember about empathy: find out exactly what the clients and users expect and try to deliver those results. If you fail, analyze the weaknesses and improve the design in a way that boosts the user experience.
When you’re receiving criticism, take them as beneficial outcome. Understand what the clients and users say and identify the problem that prevents you from achieving the ultimate experience. Then, provide solutions! Each failure is a possibility for a better solution.
It’s time for a reality hit: it’s not easy to become an expert UX designer. However, it’s a very rewarding career that never gets boring! If you’re interested in it, you should definitely focus on making all the right steps towards success. Hopefully, these 10 tips above will help you achieve your goal of becoming an expert.
Taking into account these tricks will make you a better designer. But to see it in action, you should start applying them in your work. Why not hit the road from creating a landing page or maybe even your portfolio website? So go ahead and craft some magic design.
Author Bio: Chris Richardson has been working as an editor at a publishing agency in London, UK for 5 years. He is also a professional content writing expert in such topics as career growth, self-improvement, blogging, and technology innovations.