How can I learn to become a UI/UX designer?
The coding world is improving every day. Users tend to use the most efficient technologies to save time and energy. The same goes for their website browsing or mobile app experience, they choose the website or application that loads quickly and runs efficiently.
Relaying on User experience and user interface makes user satisfaction possible. Considering this and the rapid growth of technology, more people choose to become a UX designer or to become a UI designer every day. Becoming a self-taught UI/UX designer is possible by choosing a learning method or combining learning methods together.
If you’re into this topic, and really want to become a designer, there’s one thing you should keep in mind:
Your main friend in the process to become a UI designer is the internet. It’s an incredible resource to learn UI design without spending a huge amount of money.
But if you are considering UI design as your career path and want to become a UI designer, you need to be committed to learning and have a structured learning agenda. But it’s not the end of the story.
UI and UX terms can be confusing for most people, so in this article, we’re going to explain these terms then take a brief look at UX design and whether it’s possible to become a Self-taught UX designer or UI designer.
We are also going to give you some tips if you are considering a UX designer career, and whether Can you learn UX design on your own or not?
First, let’s see what is UI/UX design:
- What is UI/UX design?
- A brief look at UX design
- How to become a UI designer
- Importance of using UI design
- Intuitive design
- Interaction design
- The info architecture
- Key components of UI design
- Understating UI elements
- Types of UI components
- Input components
- Output components
- Helper components
- How to become a UI designer
- Tutorial websites
- Technical schools
- Challenges of becoming a UI designer
- Lack of experience
- Jobs and location
- Can you become a UX Designer with no experience?
- Professional UI/UX design
What is UI/UX design?
While most people use UI and UX designing interchangeably, they are not the same at all.
UX stands for “User experience”.Simply put, UX is anything a customer can experience, and a UX design dictates all of the elements that influence this experience. The art of UX designing is centered around the customer, to provide a logical and usable roadmap to fulfill a customer’s needs. A good UX design pays little to no attention to the visual aspects of a product and aims to provide a pleasurable experience that would lead to satisfaction and loyalty. It is worth mentioning that UX designing is not limited to the digital world; every single product that a customer interacts with on a daily basis has a UX design; even the IKEA chair you’re sitting on.
UI designing stands for User interface designing. By combining psychology, digital designing, and coding, UI designers determine how interactive sections of products and applications “look”. UI designers further expand the work of a graphic designer by determining the visual aspects of interactive sections; such as button shapes and colors, text entry boxes, etc. User interaction designers have a general understanding of coding as well, as to transfer the strengths of their brand through aesthetics and visualization.
In short, a UI designer determines how an interface looks, whereas a UX designer determines how it works.
A brief look at UX design
Anyone working in the technology industry wants to know “what does a UX designer in fact do?”. To know that, first we have to take a look at the meaning of UX design. Ux design is the journey that a customer takes in interaction with the service he or she is using. Remember moments that you are using a vending machine, a mobile application, a website, or even your car. That is exactly where you can find the importance and application of UX design. So UX design implies the relationship between alive creatures (like human beings and in some cases also pets) and daily products. In this field, you as a UX designer have to be familiar with different aspects. For instance, knowing about marketing, design, technology, behavior, and interests of users and psychology will certainly help you to leave other competitors behind. As mentioned before we are going to describe “ what is the UX design?” in the first place.
We can’t say UX is a concept that recently came into being. As long as humans are using products he or she has made, UX or user experience has existed. So all the collection of feelings that a user receives is called user experience.
Ux design definition in a practical way
Now we know the effect and importance of UX designing. Let’s see how UX works in real life.
Suppose you are about to buy jeans. If you decide to buy jeans online, you will quickly google “buy jeans online”. Then find yourself in a long list of different jeans and see that there’s no mechanism to filter your favorite features about a pair of jeans. Even after finding the appropriate jeans, you are still in trouble for completing your order. There is a form you have to fill before paying. It’s still okay, but you face numerous fields that have to be fulfilled. You find this journey too difficult, prefer to leave the website and look for somewhere else. That is exactly an awful user experience. Although UX is not only subject to website design. In any other service you give to the customer, it can be detected.
How to become a UI designer
As we mentioned earlier, UI design also known as the user interface is how you improve your website or mobile application’s efficiency and interaction process by putting more focus on the appearance and the method your website and app interacts with your users.
So every visual element on a website or an application such as the pages and buttons is the user interface. More people are trying to become UI designers due to it being a challenging, eco-friendly, and well-paying career path.
However, if you are going to choose to be an interaction designer as your career you get to know how it is important and understand the way UI design impacts websites and applications.
So we’re going to talk about the significant importance of UI design and take a look at the most important elements of it in the following:
Importance of using UI design
As we mentioned above, we use the user interface to increase user interaction on websites and apps as well as traffic and conversion. The appearance of your website or application is the first glance your users have on you and your business.
If your user interface design is eye-catching and efficient for the users they tend to browse through your website and go further. So if your website gives the users their personal experience in addition to efficiency, the possibility of the users becoming customers goes up.
When users are satisfied with your service they are more likely to introduce your business to friends and family and become regulars of the service you are providing. It’s also important to keep your UI design easy-to-use to keep your online presence accessible and successful.
With the rapid growth of online shopping and dependence on online presence, solely relying on a traditional store is not a wise decision.
A good user interface makes it easier for you to reach your target audience and help them through their experience on your website or app. User interface design noticeably presents your services to keep your potential audience on your website.
The main importance of UI design is promoting how users interact with your website or app and bringing more visitors to you by predicting their preferences and satisfying these expectations.
Intuitive or visual design plays a huge role in UI design. Visual design boosts the presentation value of the website by using elements like colors, images, and image strategy.
The connection between the visual design and visitors is being a bridge between the consumers and the product or service. Having a professionally done visually designed website gives the perfect first impression without affecting the content or functionality.
A professional interactive design is capable of predicting the user’s interaction method as well as detecting issues and fixing them before any critical damage. And the pattern of this prediction is adjustable by your needs.
Certain elements such as the buttons display a specific action meaning that every element has a response. This is what we call interactive UI design, interactively creating a user interface.
The info architecture
We use information architecture on websites to guide visitors to get to their needed information and complete tasks. The information architecture contains some main elements and it could be impactful on SEO as well. Elements such as maintaining, labeling, and optimizing the contents of the website. Implanting these elements towards the way of accessibility and sustainability is the main goal of information architecture.
So information architecture is basically designing the website or application’s information structure in a way that runs with your business strategy. One of the main goals of information architecture is to navigate users clearly.
So how can UI have an impact on SEO? Search engines like Google have an algorithm and in this algorithm, UI is a ranking factor since it does work with user engagement and bringing more potential target audience to the website.
Key components of UI design
In the software application world, no matter if it’s a desktop, web, mobile, or virtual reality application, user interface or UI elements play a noticeably important role. They are indispensable and considered as the core of these applications.
The most important thing about these elements is the interaction they provide among the users and the application. They make easy navigation possible for users and work with in-putting and out-putting data.
If you are trying to become a UI designer, you should know that web developers and UI designers need to have a complete understanding of the UI elements and the user’s way of interacting with these elements to create a good website or application. So let’s take a look at some common and important UI elements and terms:
Understating UI elements
There are some elements that generally work for every website. However, to realize whether they are good for the customer or not depends on the exclusivity of each of these elements, and if it is difficult to pick, you can try custom-designing the elements to add more value. Let’s take a look at these elements:
- Radio button: you can select individual items
- List: list makes it possible for you to select multiple countries
- Check box: by using the check box, you are able to select one or none countries or pick a different region
- Dropdown list: allows you to choose a single item.
However, to fully understand these elements you’re gonna need to know your elements and types deeper.
Types of UI components
There are three main types of UI components: the input, the output, and the helper element.
The input component’s job is to handle various user inputs. It’s possible for these elements to be a part of the verification process. Here are some of the most used and common input components:
- drop-down menu
- combo box
- text/password field
- date picker
- option button
- confirmation dialog
Let’s take a look at these elements:
- Checkboxes: checkboxes give users the ability to multi-select between few options. Most checkboxes are designed vertically to avoid taking too much space.
- Buttons: buttons allow users to perform actions with one click, and are important for UI designers to design efficient buttons.
- Confirmation: we use confirmation dialogs to get the user’s permission for a specific action.
- Date pickers: the name explains itself, users use date pickers to pick a date or time matched with their time zones.
- Radio buttons: users can select an exclusive option, like selecting genders in the sign-up process.
- Dropdowns: they compactor than radio buttons, this element allows users to pick an option from a long list.
- Text fields: users can type their passwords privately. The password field allows one-line passwords. The text field allows the entry of one or more lines. Multi-line input fields are also called text areas.
The output component’s responsibility is to present and display the results of various user inputs. In addition, output components can display messages to users, such as warning messages, alert messages, or success messages.
So the quality of output components depends on the input components that they are producing and it isn’t a neutral thing.
Now that we’ve gotten familiar with the responsibility of output components, let’s see what are the common output components:
- Toast: it’s a user interface function that is triggered by server response, user input, etc and a text box appears on the screen. The difference between «Alert» and «Toast» is that the former does not dissolve on its own, while the latter dissolves after a certain period.
- Charts: the UI graphs depend on two things: communicating with the data and content about that data.
- Alert: alerts give short but important messages to attract users and notify them.
- Badge: this indicates small encounters, like users’ avatars, or items on the shopping cart.
All other components are a part of this category. Commonly used helpers include:
- progress bars
However, the helper components are also divisible into three categories:
- Informational: the informational group is usually responsible for displaying representative information, such as progress bar, tooltips, and icons.
- Container: the container group’s responsibility is to compress several elements together. The sidebars, containers, and widget
- Navigational: the navigational group’s responsibility is to navigate users. Some examples are breadcrumbs, navigation menus, and a list of links.
How to become a UI designer
Your main friend in the process to become a UI designer is the internet. It’s an incredible resource to learn UI design without spending a huge amount of money.
But if you are considering UI design as your career path and want to become a UI designer, you need to be committed to learning and have a structured learning agenda, if not there is always the possibility of not being knowledgeable enough. But self-taught UI design learning is a good way for beginners and the internet is full of resources.
Offline environments are also an option to learn UI design and come with lots of benefits such as regular contact with possible future UI designers and getting feedback but they are usually expensive and cost you time and money and you’ll be bound to one location.
So let’s take look at our online and offline options:
Blog posts allow beginners to learn from experienced designers. There are many options and good blogs to choose from and finding what’s suitable for you can be quite challenging.
Reading what other designers provided is a beneficial move for both beginners and professional UI designers. This way you’ll be aware of the latest updates and methods and add to your knowledge of UI design.
Even though books aren’t free, they are a cheap way for you to add to your information. It’s not typical to see someone reading a book these days but there have been good publications on UI design and it gives you a break from the screen.
Youtube has billions of videos and lots of viewers, in recent years a lot of people started to see youtube as a content platform. You can just simply search words like how to become a UI designer or UI designing and see hundreds of videos. So exactly like blogs, these many options can be confusing.
The main benefit of the tutorial website is that they guide you through achieving a specific result.
However, due to the rapid change and growth of the design world tutorial videos and websites can be outdated shortly. So it’s best to look through the tutorials of two years maximum.
So universities give you a traditional education, with a timeline of 2 to 4 years. The main benefit of university courses is being well-structured and comprehensive. The downside of university education is the unreasonably high costs and you need to invest a lot of time.
Technical schools give specialization in a shorter time and it’s their key benefit. The difference between universities and technical schools is that universities tend to emphasize learning general topics but technical schools are more career-based and offer skill development. They are a little less expensive than traditional universities.
Challenges of becoming a UI designer
Being a beginner in a new career path has its challenges, let’s take a look at a few challenges you might face on your way to become a UI designer:
Lack of experience
This is one of the main challenges of starting a new career path. How do I compete with other UI designers that have more experience? There are few ways you can gain experience from:
- Apply for the jobs that match you: don’t try to rush it, try applying for jobs that match your skill level, for example, if it’s your very first job try applying for entry-level job positions.
- Portfolio matters: as a UI designer you want to present the best of yourself. Even if you don’t have work experience you are still capable of designing great things.
- Freelancing: you can use a freelancing website and upload your portfolio on those websites. You can start with small contracts and at first, they are not going to pay that much but what they give you, is an experience in design and client interactions which is worth every minute you spend.
Jobs and location
Luckily in today’s world, remote working is a thing and some companies are completely remote. Meaning that even if you are in an out-of-reach area, having access to the internet will make it easy for you to find jobs as a UI designer outside of your zone.
In your journey of becoming a UI designer, you can work online and offline jobs, with a salary or without payment. Your skills and goals show you what is best for you in terms of finding a job or picking a course and you might even combine your experiences from different jobs and courses together.
Can you become a UX Designer with no experience?
Given the vast field of UX designing, starting from scratch feels rather overwhelming. Some believe that they should at least have a bit of designing experience or some form of formal education. This isn’t the case, as your route to learning UX designing can begin as a complete novice, on the internet.
But before so, a good understanding of this field’s mission and importance is recommended.
Importance of UX designing
UX designing integrates multiple fields; from human studies to technological studies. All of which aim towards one simple goal: To provide a pleasurable experience for the user, whilst fulfilling their needs. A strong UX design helps businesses by increasing user loyalty, as well as mapping out the best route for maximum customer conductivity.
Many businesses love the maximum profits and customer loyalty that professional UX designs offer, leading to UX designing being an important and necessary need for many businesses.
How can you learn UX designing?
There are three ways you could go about learning UX designing:
- University and courses: Some believe formal education to be a necessity in this field, they find courses to be a great way of building connections and finding job leads, as well as the opportunity to work on projects that can later be added to one’s portfolio.
- Self-teaching: Almost everything that you need to know about UX designing can be found online. This leads to one feeling rather overwhelmed, since the variety and quantity of skills to be learned is rather terrifying; The key is to have a structured plan of self-teaching.
- Hybrid learning: While you can learn efficiently alongside your feature colleagues, you’ll have an easier time finding new learning material as well as having accessibility to some experts in this field.
The route you choose to begin your journey is entirely up to you. There is no single optimum way of learning UX designing, rather, you should find the route which suits you best.
Can you learn UX design on your own?
You can begin UX designing at any age, with any level of experience in designing or social understandings. Rome was not built in one day, and even if oblivious to designing, a structured plan to self-teach yourself the essentials of this art will get you through. It is worth mentioning that some of the best UX designers out there were self-taught, at least in the beginning.
But first off, make sure that this field is indeed, within your interest. If you’re interested in how products interact with people and wish to enhance their experiences via implementing and testing different designs, then the UX designer career is right for you. Strap yourself in to learn quite a spectrum of skill sets, from learning how people think and behave to the ability of learning and experimenting with different designing tools.
8 steps to take to become a Self-taught UX designer
- Start with the theories
Wikipedia has always been a great place to begin one’s journey into a new field of knowledge. We recommend going through this Wikipedia page to get a general knowledge of the elements you’ll need, UX deliverables, etc. Also, diagrams and charts might help you plan out which areas you want to tackle first, and which path you’d like to take into this career.
- Learn about the process and principles of designing
UX designing begins with empathizing with the users, defining the problems, ideation. Prototype designing and implementation and finally, testing. The users are the center of UX designing; meaning you should design and advocate what customers actually want, not what you think they want. Even so, your employer’s satisfaction is an important task to keep in mind as well.
By knowing your users, understanding their values and needs, as well as presenting a feasible and user-friendly solution, a good UX design can be achieved. The book Universal Principles Of Design is a complete reference for this matter, but it might seem a bit overwhelming at first, as it includes more than 125 laws to follow for a good UX design. We recommend you begin reading and researching this matter on the internet and after exhausting the online resources, this book may help you round up everything into a neat bundle of knowledge.
- Read self-learning UX design books
It is always a great plan to read the fundamentals from a reliable and categorized book. The following books can teach you the basics of UX designing and development, as well as give you a general understanding of how to map out your journey onward:
- Don’t make me think by Steve Krug: This book explains the process of designing an app/website with the best UX possible. It is simple and is a great choice for a complete beginner.
- A project guide to UX design by Russ Unger: Probably one of the best books with a systematic approach for learning UX design skills and theories.
- 101 Design Methods by Vijay Kumar: This book offers a rather scientific approach to designing, and pairs every idea with an example. Everything is broken down into steps, which makes this a great book for complete beginners.
- The design of everyday things by Don Norman: This book answers a simple question: Why does a product satisfy a customer, whereas another only causes frustration?
- User Experience Elements by Jesse James Garrett: This book guides you through turning an idea into an actual solution. With many examples, this book explains how to use resources from customers to improve a UX design.
- Time to design!
Alongside all the studying you need to do, begin sketching. You don’t necessarily need to be a good artist, simply sketching ideas or doodling might suffice. At first, simply sketching with pen and paper is more than enough, as long as you are able to communicate your ideas.
Paper drawings might be a good start, but you should learn to work with some of the programs this career demands. If you’re lucky enough to be a complete beginner, you don’t need to change from Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, and you can begin your journey with Figma or sketch.
It is worth mentioning that if you already have a general idea of which designing path you’d like to follow, check job-finding websites such as Linkedin or Headhunter, and see which programs your future employers are most interested in. Below is a list of programs that you might need to familiarize yourself with:
- Sketch: Probably the best program to start with, is a macOS app and is used for interface designing.
- Figma: Similar to Sketch, is the newest UI/UX design software and is growing rapidly in popularity. This program offers collaboration as well.
- Adobe XD: This is a free program that was designed for user interface designers. Offers prototyping as well as interface designing.
- Balsamiq: For layout creation.
- RedPen: Great for collaboration.
- Invasion App: Offers prototyping and Collaboration.
Regarding Usability and testing programs, we recommend the following:
- Optimizely: Offers multiple testing tools as well as web personalization, toggle capabilities, and web content
- UsabilityHub: When it comes to designing, the best feedback can be given by actual users.
- Hotjar: Shows you how users behave on your website, and it has a free trial as well
- Usabilla: Offers qualitative and quantitative user feedback across any platforms
- Existing designs: Surround yourself, Pay attention, and Copy
Occasionally, go through popular and user-friendly websites. Websites that you, as a customer are loyal to, and or enjoy their approach to their UX design. This can help you with understanding what makes a design successful and applicable. Behance and Dribbble are two portfolio websites on which you can find marvelous designs to see, learn from, and criticize.
Also, when searching online and going through websites, question every single little detail that you can: Why did they choose this font? Why is this button here? Why did they choose this color for their headings?
Asking these questions will help you develop a keen eye for details and design choices. After you’ve figured out the basics of UX designing, copy the most outstanding works that you’ve seen, with a twist: Change the details that you believe need improving. This approach will help you with critical thinking and you’ll develop your own signatures in designing as well.
- Courses and classes on UX designing
Let’s say you’ve exhausted all there is to learn through the internet, books, and experimenting. If you still feel like you need further guidance before taking on a job, picking up a class that fits your needs and peaks your interest, is the next step. First, these are the qualities that we recommend you keep in mind while choosing a course:
- Learning with projects: Courses that teach you UX designing through actual projects will help you get a sense of the work you’ll be doing in this field. Aside from the experience and social connections that you’ll make, this approach will help you with your portfolio. Building a portfolio is extremely crucial, as companies tend to hire those who actually have presentable experience in this field.
- Learning with a mentor: You’ve already gone through everything you could read on your own, so make sure that the course you’re paying for assigns an actual mentor to you as well. There is much to be learned with an actual mentor around, and you can ask them questions about specific areas in which you’re either interested or lacking.
- Career support: It is important to choose a course that values your future job applications into the industry as well. A course that offers specialist career support will be extremely beneficial, as they can guide you through your search for jobs.
- Proper curriculum: Some UX designing courses tend to copy their entire curriculum from third parties. Check to see if their curriculum actually fits what you aspire to learn, and ask about the extent of their teachings. Avoid courses that just point you to further reading, on your own.
- Prepare your online portfolio and resume
Companies and employers would want to see your capabilities in the job they’re hiring you for. An online portfolio of your best projects will show them your designing talents and ideas, and it’ll get you further than just a resume. Here are a few websites on which you can design your online portfolio:
- Behance: A free and popular website for designing your portfolio. You can also receive feedback and check out other designers works as well
- Dribbble: A free and popular website among designers. This website is generally used alongside Behance, as it only displays screenshots of different designs, whereas Behance presents designs with super details.
- Pixpa: An extremely easy-to-use website, which offers a 15-day free trial, as well as a mobile website. You can even sell your designs on this website, and no coding knowledge is needed.
All and all, we still recommend you write a resume for further job interviews as well.
- Practice, Prepare, Refine, Repeat
Practice makes perfect. A good designer never stops learning and designing; Your biggest critique should be yourself. Prepare for job interviews, and listen for comments on your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t get discouraged, refine your designs and resume, and try again.
Tips for becoming a better UX designer
- Never be satisfied, and always have backup plans
A good UX designer will never find their work to be “perfect”. They will always find their own flaws before others do. Also, as different clients might have different visions from them, they always prepare different design ideas, just in case. Never style for what you’ve already designed. Go further and beyond.
- Expect the unexpected
It is necessary for a UX designer to have a holistic perspective. Each design should incorporate the ups and downs a product might go through, and compensate for areas that might cause difficulties. This does not mean that you should be able to fully anticipate everything, but a general understanding of the ups and downs may suffice.
- Never forget the principles
Always have a systematic approach to your designing process. As we mentioned earlier, Each design should begin with studying the users, defining and analyzing the problems, ideation, prototype designing, implementation, and finally testing. This process will help you achieve a holistic view as well.
- Ask for opinions
It is always great to have a second pair of eyes view what you’ve done. As technical and logical UX designing is, it also has some aspects of art woven into it. A second opinion, be it an expert’s or a customer’s opinion, will help you see what you might’ve missed about your work. This can also help you study your users in a different light as well.
Professional UI/UX design
Designing user interface and user experience is one of the most important parts of developing a website or app. These elements determine how users will use your service and how satisfied they will be. A great service can go to total waste if the service is weak in these manners and it’s not what the providers would likely want. So, taking care of these parts is as important as the service itself. Therefore,you can get help from professional agencies like Dewzilla to manage it for you.
Since most businesses have taken the user-centered approach as their policy, the importance of design is noticeable more than ever. Considering this and the rapid growth of technology, UI/UX designers are demanded more than ever so choosing to become a UX designer or to become a UI designer is good for your future career path.
You can learn the main concepts of UI/UX design on your own, reading and taking courses on UI/UX design is a good place to start, in addition, using case studies is another good step for learning and help you understand the key points and principle of UI/UX design and can familiarize you with what you can offer as a designer, such as roadmaps, prototypes, and wireframes.
How well does a UI/UX job pay?
How long does it take to become a UI/UX designer?
Some find it easier and faster to take courses, especially when a mentor is there to guide them. But for others, flexibility and research keeps them interested and invested. Instead of focusing on time, focus on your goals and expectations from learning this new skill.