User Experience (UX) is a relatively new term. Though invented in the early 90s, it has developed into a career option in the last 10 years. With no formal courses or degrees in user experience design until recently, most UX designers are self-taught or have gone through online or short-term ‘transition’ courses. The professional background of a UX designer varies from engineering to design and architecture to psychology.
“User experience” encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” – Don Norman
User Experience Design: What is User Experience(UX) as a Career
User experience is a perspective. The view from the user’s stance. It entails taking control over a gamut of processes and creating multi-sensorial experiences. A visual designer/user interface (UI) Designer only covers the visible tip of the iceberg, while a UX designer is the first to enter a project and the last to leave.
A UX designer builds relationships with engineers, product managers, content writers and a number of folks involved in the development cycle of a product. While each focus on their individual roles, user experience design provides guidance, ensures consistency & coherency and is in constant touch with the end-user of the product testing and documenting feedback.
Keen interest in user studies, a user-centred-approach and the desire to be involved in every aspect of a product – technical and non-technical – are signs of a UX designer in the making. If customer/user feedback excites you, the product owner doesn’t mind you sitting-in for all the meetings and the technical team is happy to run every build past you – you have a strong foundation for a career in user experience design.
User Experience Design: Make the Career Switch to UX
Apart from engineering & design, many UX designers come from varied bachelors degrees such as architecture, humanities and advertising. Most of them transition to UX/Interaction Design through a part-full time course or even a master’s degree.
Your interest will drive you to learn the basic terms and methodologies. A simple google search result will provide enough results to understand the basics of type, colours and form/functionality. Terms such as affordance, legibility/readability and hierarchy will help your UX vocabulary grow.
Once you’ve got your first layer of learning in space – consider an online/remote course. These transition courses provide real-life situations that will help you gain practical knowledge combined with a hands-on approach.
Design is an integral part of the digital transformation that our world is going through. Just as India became the IT hub of the world in the last few decades, we believe the country has the potential to become the design hub of the world in the near future. There is a palpable need in India for quality design education for those who haven’t studied design as their first-degree.
– Nidhi Gupta, Program Director at Springboard
What to Look for While Selecting a Transition Course
- Hands-On/Projects: The best way to learn a skill is to use it in a real-life scenario. Projects help you develop an outcome that showcases your learning in a practical and easy-to-communicate method. Look for courses that emphasise on project-based learning. Preserve your project work for your portfolio.
- Placements: Online educators tie-up with leading companies and vice versa. A couple of years of work experience with a leading UX firm will kickstart your user experience design career and provide you with a few excellent additions to your UX portfolio.
- Self-Paced: A good course allows you to pace yourself through it. This allows you to balance your work and study. Should you find a sudden surge in interest take some time off to boost yourself through a few modules.
- Cost/Duration: The cost/duration varies. Anything less than 1 month would not be taken seriously for a professional UX role. 6-Months to 1-year would be the ideal time-frame for a transition course. Remember, you already have education/experience you are building on. The more expensive the course the more well-known it is. Rather than opting for the brand-name opt for a course that emphasises the points mentioned above.
Online UX education is a growing industry and new courses are added every day. There are many course options that you can choose from. Springboard India offers a UX/UI design career track program that is of 9 months duration. The career track program is 1:1 mentoring-led, project-driven and comes along with a job guarantee. Springboard provides a job-guarantee within 6 months of graduation. If they’re unable to place you in a company your course fee is refunded in full.
Springboard’s UI/UX Design program makes design education accessible to people from different careers or other educational backgrounds. The program helps learners shape their design career trajectory through a structured and mentor-led curriculum and comes with a job-guarantee.
– Nidhi Gupta, Program Director at Springboard.
Once enrolled in your course it’s a good time to start connecting with the UX community, building a portfolio and a network.
- Attend Events: They’re a number of local, national and international UX events. Attend at least 1 event a year. DesignUp is a gathering of designers who work with technology and amongst the largest in Asia.
- Join a Forum: Many international communities have local chapters. Interaction Design Foundation or Interaction Design Association are examples. These communities have smaller meetups, portfolio reviews and networking evenings. Attending these would give you access to local leaders and other UX professionals.
- Subscribe to Newsletters: Newsletters provide inspiration and updates. Most leading blogs, individuals and even firms have weekly/bi-weekly content to share. They keep you posted on events, meetups and trends. The curation helps you go through content relevant to you. Find a newsletter or two that inspires you and sign up! If you’re eyeing a firm to join in the future, subscribe and reading their newsletters would get you brownie points.
UX as a career is bound to be exciting. It’s a buffet of opportunities/problems to solve and works beyond a single sensorial approach. You build relationships with other careers and broaden your mindset. Write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question or you’ve just completed a transition course and would like to share your experience.