How to Be a UI/UX Designer With Zero Experience
BY CANDY CHEN
When I first started thinking about my career transition into design, I googled “How to be a UI/UX designer from zero experience.” To facilitate your career transition, I would like to share the exact steps I took so you can have a successful switch.
Step 1: Understand the role of design in small steps
By small steps, I mean actions that are easy and economically-friendly ways. The purpose of this step is to make sure you are interested in the design and whether it is the thing that you would like to go further. For example, you can start by watching design YouTube channels to peek into a UI/UX designer everyday’s life. You also can read books to understand the basics.
Here, I would like to recommend some of my favorite resources.
A channel that makes cool animation and colorful effects as well as shows different design processes, skills, trends, and techniques. The videos are more lecture-like with clear and precise explanations.
Pixel & Bracket
A channel focused on visual design using Adobe suites as well as with some other tools. Their videos can help you gain insight into visual design work while learning many other skills needed for the world of design.
“The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald A. Norman
This book is considered the UX Bible. It introduces design from a psychological angle and walks you through how to better the human and object interaction.
“Design with Emotion” by Aaron Walter
The book focuses on interface design from an emotional angle. It covers a handful of case studies with thorough explanations about how to not make the design look boring. In my opinion, it was quite an interesting book to gain insight into interface design.
There are also many other materials that you can choose to look! If you prefer video content, you can check out Linkedin Learning or Coursera for free mini-courses. If you like to read, check over to our design articles for a taste of the field.
Step 2: Take fundamental classes
After the first step, you can invest more structured time & cost for UI/UX design learning.
There are many classes and bootcamps available online. I recommend you carefully check what they provide in support before selecting one. No matter which you choose, however, remember to finish it well before you jump to another. You’ll feel better if you already have established a structure instead of proceeding with multiple classes at the same time, which may overwhelm you and make you lose focus.
I personally chose Coursera for the UI/UX design online course offered by CALARTS. I found it quite helpful to learn design fundamentals. I used this foundation to deepen my knowledge of UI/UX design with other materials after I finished the class.
There are also many other choices that you can explore, such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, etc for a low cost.
Step 3: Create a UI/UX project to utilize your skills
By now, you should already have a fundamental knowledge of UI/UX design. It is time to make something to practice and to prepare for your coming portfolio.
What I did is to choose one of my favorite topics and created a brand around it. I designed an imaginary product from scratch, from branding, structuring, user research, wire-framing to prototyping. Though the product is not real, it does help me understand the whole process of design and makes me find out which area that I should strengthen my knowledge.
The most convenient way to start a project may from the homework that you did for your online classes. For example, you can extend your homework from one focused topic, such as “two visual design pages for an app” to a more dimensional product based on your imagination.
Go ahead and choose one of your favorite topics to start your exploration!
Step 4: Think about your career again
I hope you have had fun exploring the world of design so far and congrats on getting this far! Now that you already know what a career in user experience is like, ask yourself this:
Is this THE THING that you really want to do for your future career?
From my experience of being a recruiter, I understand the difficulties of changing careers. If you are new to this field, I want to make sure you have considered this transition. If you are dedicated to moving on, go ahead to step 5!
Step 5: Find an internship or mentor
Awesome, you want to be a designer! It’s a great field!
Step five is all about sharing this goal and networking. It is never too late to network, talk to people, and exchange information and thoughts.
For a new designer, it is important to find a platform where you can gain experience and network. Personally, my friend’s friend (the power of networking!) introduced me to Skydea, a design agency. I am currently doing a mentorship program with this company and find it a wonderful place to learn and grow new skills.
Skydea is located in Tokyo, while the mentorship program for Skydea is a remote program with people coming from different parts of the world.
You get the chance to know lots of great designers who share the same passion as you to study and improve together. Even more, you may have the chance to work on a real project where you can build a strong portfolio.
The program offers a 3-month full-time and 6-month part-time course. You may choose based on your situation and have flexible control of your progress with the mentors.
For more information, please feel free to contact us: