Specialised design programs are rare in Indian colleges. Even the ones available focus primarily on the industrial design or visual design. To learn UI UX design from a traditional graduate program is near impossible today. This is perhaps why most of the country’s top UX designers learned their skills from a combination of books, online courses, internships and on the job training. Exploring various avenues, making trials and errors, is a long route to a profession that is growing rapidly and becoming one of the key skills companies need in 2020. In this blog post, we will try to shorten that journey for you. We bring together the best resources available to learn UI UX design, as well as offer some career advice.
Learn UI UX Design: Top Resources for Each Stage
There are several aspects of UI UX design that contribute in specific ways towards building great products. Some of them can be learned from books, some from observation, but most of them can be mastered only through persistent practice. Let’s see them one by one.
#1 Eye for Design
Before beginning to build something, you need to have an eye for design — an intuition for what is good design. In very simple terms, good design needs to grab your attention, stand out from its surroundings, convey the message clearly and move you to feel something or take action.
Being able to identify what is good design and what is not is one of the most crucial UI UX skills. But it’s not innate, it can be developed with practice.
How to Develop an Eye for Design?
- Look at designs around you carefully. This can be the logo on your television, an advertisement on a website, or the animation on the ‘submit’ button on a mobile app. Throughout your day, observe designs in your environment and think about them critically.
- Read design-related magazines and journals every day. Subscribe to newsletters and blogs written by experts in the field.
- Follow industry leaders on social media and invest in what they’re sharing.
#2 Knowledge of Design Principles
While the field of design is rapidly evolving, there are some fundamental principles of design that have stood the test of time. Colour, balance, contrast, consistency, parallelism, etc. are common across all design, including digital. Understanding these will help build a strong foundation for a design career.
How to Learn UI UX Design Principles?
- You can begin with this blog post from Springboard.
- Actively research design principles on the Internet and read them. This article by the Nielsen Norman Group is a great start. But there are plenty of other resources on the Internet to learn from.
- Apply your learnings to everyday observations. When you see designs around you, take a moment to evaluate them based on the principles you’ve learned.
- Also, see if something that doesn’t follow the principles of design still feels like good design.
#3 Learn UI UX Design: UI UX Skills
Have you heard of the ‘Norman Door’? It’s the kind of door where you push instead of pull or vice versa. Don Norman, one of the pioneers of UX design often uses this as an example of bad design. To create good design, you need an understanding of user behaviour and how it shapes design. There are several ways to learn this.
How to Learn UI UX Skills?
- Start with the book ‘The Design of Everyday Things’, where you can learn the basics of user experience design for both analogue and digital products.
- Understand design thinking from the book ‘Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organisations and Inspires Innovation’ by Tim Brown. It teaches the philosophical approach followed by some of the world’s best design teams today.
- Learn the landscape of UX design. UI/UX design is a vast field encompassing research, testing, analytics, animation and so on. Understanding this end-to-end is crucial for a meaningful career in UX design.
- Learn UX design patterns and best practices from case studies of designers/studios. Understand how UX designers use repetition, typography pairing, branding etc. to build user experiences.
#4 Practice UI UX Design
Design is a practical field. The moment you have a basic acquaintance with UX design, you need to begin practice. You can do the reading/studying in parallel, but it is important to start designing as soon as you can.
- The first step is copying
Just like how children copy-down alphabets and numbers from the board to their notebooks, budding designers copy great designs early on.
“That’s how I learnt to design – by copying websites that inspired me. This was for my own knowledge on spacing, alignment, colors, typography. Of course I didn’t share it out saying this is my creation”, says Sonaal Bangera, product designer and co-founder of NFN Labs in Chennai.
- Once you feel comfortable, try fake projects
Imagine you’re designing a mobile app and create a new screen. Think about a website you find most confusing and redesign it. Create fake projects for yourself and practice your skills.
- Learn UI UX design tools
From visual design to wireframing and prototyping, UX designers use a wide range of tools every single day. Being able to use these tools comfortably is an important skill for UX designers. Explore as many tools as you can, and get comfortable with a few of them. Sketch, Adobe XD, and Figma are some of the top UX design tools employers look for — you can start with these.
#5 Learn UI UX Design: Get feedback
While you can learn UX design by yourself, you can’t become good at it without collaboration and feedback.
- Identify friends and colleagues who can look at your design and give you pointed feedback.
- Ask specific questions and prod to understand the users better.
- Apply usability testing and other techniques to practice research.
- Use this feedback for continuous learning.
- Also learn to make presentations, communicate effectively and collaborate with peers. This is also a crucial part of the job.
It is also a good idea to get a few internships to gain real-world experience in the field. This way, you will also be able to work alongside experienced designers, shadow them and learn from their experience.
#6 Find a mentor
Learning UX design is only one part of building a UX design career. Another, perhaps more complex, part is applying for jobs, finding them and growing as a professional. This journey will involve making several mistakes and learning from them — this can often be difficult and lonely. A mentor can help make it more meaningful, if not easier.
- Identify your needs and goals.
- Find a professional who has travelled the path of UX design before.
- Seek mentorship and career advice.
- Spend time regularly connecting with your mentor, discussing challenges, taking feedback and incorporating them.
Remember that learning UX design is an ongoing process. While you can learn some basics and find a job, you need to be open to learning throughout your career. New products are designed every day, new trends emerge and user expectations change regularly. As a UX designer, you need to be a life-long learner, but a good foundation can be a game-changer. If you’re looking to kickstart a career in UX design, consider Springboard’s UX Design Career Track. It has a job-ready curriculum, 1:1 mentorship, career coaching and a job guarantee!