The field of User Experience encompasses a broad range of different subjects ranging from usability testing to visual design. My first job as a UX Designer was at a fantastic little Toronto startup that goes by the name of Wattpad - a unique community of readers and writers all over the world. While there, I sort of (read: completely) wrote my own job description and led the way to creating personas for the product, remote usability testing, and interaction design.
When I graduated from undergrad in June 2013, I was in a unique position. Almost every startup I knew was looking for a UX Designer - the unicorn who can design and write code. So it was great for me, but how come there weren’t more people in this space?
Lately, I’ve been speaking to a lot of people about UX Design, what it comprises of, and how they can learn more about it. Some of these people are in the software tech space and are developers, others are engineering students interested in the research and data aspect of it.
Here are 5 things I find myself telling people who are interested in a career in User Experience Design:
1. Read about it. Seriously. You can’t just go to school for psychology/graphic arts/engineering and come out of it ready to be a UX Designer. You need to stay abreast of things. I made a list of my favorite books to get you started. You can also follow my list of folks who talk UX Design on Twitter.
2. Build a network of people interested in the design space. I can’t stress this enough. As human beings, we learn from each other. Head on over to meetup.com, and check out UX meetups in your city.
3. Have an opinion. As a designer, it’s your job to have an opinion. It’s also your job to always be questioning the why. If you go into a project completely passive, everyone will walk all over you. Have an opinion and make sure you can back it up.
4. Embrace data. Data is king and you’d do well to make friends with it. Yes, sometimes, trial and error and gut decisions work, but most of the time, data will guide you like the northern star. Make sure you look at metrics, compare them before and after you complete a project and learn from it for your next project.
5. Learn some skills and showcase your projects. There are a large number of disciplines that the field of User Experience comprises of. Pick the ones you want to specialize in and get really good at them. This image does a good job of showcasing them. If you’re interested in Interaction Design, for example, learn how to code so you can make interactive prototypes instead of static PhotoShop images.
Bonus tip: Promote design culture everywhere you go and help others get into it if they’re interested i.e., Don’t be a dick.