How To Become a UX Designer with No Experience: 9 Step Guide
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In his seminal work, Design of Everyday Things, professor and renowned author Don Norman writes that “design is concerned with how things work, how they are controlled, and the nature of the interaction between people and technology.” When it comes to user experience (UX) design, the nature of those interactions goes far beyond websites, apps, shapes, colors, links, icons, and call-to-action buttons. UX design shapes how users interact with a wide array of products and services, including self-driving cars, electronic voting machines, connected homes, health devices, and more.
In a rapidly digitizing world, the need for user experience design is growing exponentially. The UX designer role has held steady on LinkedIn’s top jobs lists, with average salaries ranging from $80,000 to $103,000, and there are nearly 11,000 positions open on LinkedIn today, with a vast majority of them entry-level UX designer jobs.
If you’re excited by the field and want to build your new career, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to become a UX designer with no experience.
What Does a UX Designer Do?
A UX designer “helps users complete tasks in an efficient and delightful way,” says Anders Hoff, Springboard’s head of UX design. To achieve this, UX designers use a wide array of skills in product research, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, UX writing, UI design, continuous improvement, and more.
Can You Become a UX Designer With No Experience?
Yes! Organizations embracing digital transformation are building their UX capabilities, and are hiring entry-level UX designer jobs. This has also given birth to boutique UX design agencies that recruit entry-level professionals to build products for their clients. In the US alone, there are over 3000 entry-level UX design jobs and internships posted on LinkedIn. These jobs demand a range of skills in UX design but don’t expect much by way of work experience.
How To Become a UX Designer With No Experience
To become a UX designer with no experience, you need a vision for your career, a combination of skills, some practice, and a job search strategy. Here’s how to go about it.
Determine Your Ideal Career Path
The first step to building a UX design career is to envision it. Do your research to understand what kind of UX design jobs are available. This can include roles as a UX researcher, product designer, UI designer (learn how to apply to entry-level UI designer jobs to break into the industry), information architect, or content designer. While all of these are UX design roles and need an overall understanding of the field, each needs a specialized skill set.
For instance, a content designer is a role for writers, while the UI designer is one for visual designers. So, before you embark on your UX design journey, determine your ideal career path. It need not be very specific at this point, a general direction will do. Once you decide what you’re most excited about, you can build your career accordingly.
Take a Free Course
Taking a free UX design online course will allow you to test the waters of UX design. Before taking the plunge into a UX design career, you can explore what it entails, what skills you need, what kind of work you might do, etc. This way, you can try your hand at UX design and see if you are still excited. Below are some of our recommendations.
Springboard’s free UX design curriculum is for aspiring designers, product managers, engineers, entrepreneurs, or just anyone wanting to learn about UX. It is designed to be accessible without having a previous background in the field. It covers design research methods, user-centered design techniques, interviewing users in real-world situations, creating personas to define users, and deliverables a UX designer is expected to produce.
InVision is a suite of products used by designers across the spectrum of user experience design. The Invision for Designers Learning Path offers free courses in using craft for design, freehand for whiteboarding, prototype for no-code prototyping, specs for developer collaboration, and spaces for documentation.
The LinkedIn Learning program in UX design offers 8h 30m of content, spread across 10 chapters. It covers analyzing user data, creating personas, creating storyboards, prototyping, interaction design, and sketching. By the end of this course, in addition to learning the skills, you will also have built a portfolio and gained certification as a UX designer.
Gymnasium’s free UX Fundamentals course is for professional graphic/web designers looking to upgrade to user experience design. It covers an introduction to user research, empathy, wireframing, prototyping, information architecture, UX writing, best practices, and testing.
Utilize Free Resources
For most UX design aspirants, an online course might be somewhat restrictive, focussing on only a few aspects of user experience. For instance, if you’re especially interested in UX research, free courses might only offer 1-2 modules in the area. For situations like these, you might gain a more in-depth look from other free resources such as blogs, UX influencers, and YouTube channels.
There are several blogs online by UX professionals that cover the entire gamut of the field. The most popular ones are:
- UX Booth: This is an online publication by and for the UX community. In addition to core UX design topics such as information architecture, visual design, and interaction design, it also has blog posts about content strategy, business strategy, analytics, accessibility, and more. UX Booth offers a comprehensive look into the world of UX design.
- UX Planet: A UX design Medium blog, UX Planet curates ideas and opinions from leaders and practitioners in the field from across the globe. Like UX Booth, it covers a wide array of UX-related topics. It also publishes lived experiences of designers, the challenges they face, and the strategies they use to overcome them.
- Usability Geek: This is a UX design blog focused on giving practical tips and strategies to professionals, now managed by the Interaction Design Foundation. The blog offers cutting-edge opinions and advice, ranging from designing for the Metaverse to gamification, inclusivity, quarantine UX, and more.
One of the best ways to learn is to listen. So if you’re looking to launch a career in UX design, here are three influencers we recommend you subscribe to.
- Jen Romano Bergstrom: Jen is an experimental psychologist, UX specialist, UX research coach, and a senior UX manager at Google. She regularly speaks at events, offers online classes, and does 1:1 coaching for UX professionals. You can read more about her work at romanocog.com and follow her on Twitter at @romanocog.
- Cory Lebson: Cory is the founder of Lebsontech LLC, a leading UX research firm in the US. He offers training and workshops in UX design. His UX Careers Handbook offers a comprehensive look into making a career in UX design. You can also read his blog here.
- Ioana Teleanu: A senior UX manager at UiPath, Ioana is a blogger at UX Goodies and a podcast host at Honest UX Talks, both of which cover a wide range of UX-related topics. You can follow her on Instagram at @uxgoodies.
- UX Mastery: The UX Mastery YouTube channel promises to get UXers started and get better. It offers simple and short training videos about UX topics such as creating personas, customer journey maps, UX research, and wireframing. It also regularly brings experts in the field for talks and seminars.
- The Futur Academy: This is a design-focused channel that offers micro-content around design in general and UX in particular. There are also a lot of how-tos, such as videos around creating margins, designing a badge icon, using negative space, applying a color palette, drawing Fibonacci grids, and more.
- Tutvid: Tudvid is an Adobe-focussed design tutorials channel. It offers videos on using Adobe products such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, After Effects, Lightroom, Audition, and XD. Tutorials about using Adobe XD are especially useful for user experience designers.
- Nielsen Norman Group: Founders Don Norman and Jakob Neilsen are pioneers in UX design. The channel offers clear, straightforward tutorials about key themes of user experience across principles and practice. In addition to UX-related ideas, it also covers behavioral aspects such as working with feedback, motivating stakeholders, accessibility, and career specialization.
Work on Projects
Once you’ve had the chance to read, listen and watch experts discuss UX design, it’s time to gain some hands-on experience. Begin working on some personal UX projects. You can pick from an idea you already have, an imaginary brand/business, participate in online contests or volunteer to help a local small business in their digital presence. While beginning to work on projects, start small to make things manageable.
Start with a simple landing page, a single web page typically used to capture leads through a form. This allows you to apply all your UX design skills from user research, layout design, wireframing, prototyping, UI design, database integration, and testing. If you’re able, conduct A/B tests and optimize for better performance.
Once you’re comfortable with the landing page, expand your reach to a larger website. Apply your knowledge in design thinking principles to build a coherent user experience.
Get To Know Other UX Design Students
Create some versatility in your UX design skills by building a mobile app. This is a great way to learn about creating experiences for a smaller screen and a touch-based interface. This will also allow you to understand building and listing mobile apps in marketplaces such as the Apple App Store, and the Google Play Store.
Complete a Bootcamp
If you’ve come so far, it’s time to get serious about your UX design career. Self-learning, while being flexible and dynamic, can be a lonely endeavor. It does not offer a strategic approach to a career transition. It also lacks the mentorship and coaching needed to make a successful transition. A good UX design bootcamp can help with that. Here are some of the top UX design bootcamps you must consider.
Springboard — UX Design Bootcamp
The immersive Springboard UX bootcamp is aimed to help aspiring designers make a successful transition to a UX career. It includes a 350+ hour curriculum with a combination of videos, in-depth articles, hands-on experience with multiple mini-projects and three portfolio projects, 1:1 mentorship, career coaching, and a job guarantee.
The key features of the Springboard UX Bootcamp are:
- 6-month program requiring 15-20 hours a week to complete the course
- Comprehensive curriculum including modules in design thinking, user research, ideation, sketching, wireframing, UI, prototyping, design sprint, strategy, and service design
- Portfolio projects that strengthen your UX design resume, including an industry design project for real-world experience
- 1:1 mentorship with regular video calls and unlimited support
- Career coaching that includes resume and portfolio reviews, 1:1 mock interviews, and access to an employer network
- 100% money-back guarantee if you don’t land a job soon after graduation
- Ranked the best UX/UI bootcamp on Course Report two years in a row
Kenzie Academy — UX Design Career Program Part-Time Course
Southern New Hampshire University’s UX Design certificate program combines design and soft skills needed to launch a UX career. In addition to self-learning modules, it also offers scheduled interactive sessions for group work, Q&A, application review, and study halls.
Key features of the Kenzie Academy Part-Time Course are:
- 9-month program requiring 20-25 hours per week
- Curriculum broken down into UX and UI fundamentals, application design, and industry readiness
- Project-based learning to gain hands-on experience
- Learner services offering support for job search, resume building, and interview preparedness
Interaction Design Foundation — UX Design Bootcamp
The Interaction Design Foundation offers four bootcamps in UX design—UX fundamentals, UI design, user research, and UX portfolio and career. Each lasts for 12 weeks, needing 8-10 hours a week to complete. The curriculum is designed to offer specialized expertise in the area of your choice. For example, the UX portfolio and career program contain only practical components best suited for those who understand the basics and need to convert that into practical experience. The UI design program delves deep into interaction design and animations, best suited for graphic/visual designers to transition to UX.
Depending on your interests and where you are in your career, you can pick the one that’s right for you. If you’re a complete newbie, you can also begin with the UX fundamentals program and build from there.
Designlab — UX Academy
The Designlab UX Academy offers a flexible UI/UX design program that can be undertaken part-time at 20 hours per week for 30 weeks or full-time at 40 hours a week for 15 weeks. The course includes 490 hours of coursework, 100 hands-on exercises, and four projects.
The curriculum includes an introduction to design, user research, information architecture, UI design, interaction design, prototyping, and testing. The second half of the program is dedicated to building a portfolio across responsive web page design, building a feature, and an end-to-end mobile app. The course includes 26 weeks of career support after graduation and 26 coaching sessions.
General Assembly — UX Design Immersive
The General Assembly UX Design Bootcamp is a full-time scheduled program to build a career in the field. The curriculum includes foundations of UX and UI, design interactions, collaboration, working with the product team, UX in the real world, and a module on career planning. The program also includes several hands-on assignments for practical experience.
Get a Certification
Another way to gain the credentials that make designers stand out in the market is to get a certification. Here are some of the best certificate programs available today.
Designed by Google employees, this certificate program is delivered online on Coursera. It covers a gamut of UX skills across user empathy, understanding the user, solutioning, wireframing, mockups, prototypes, usability studies, iterating, and using feedback. There are also modules on using Figma and Adobe XD. Designed to be completed in six months, the course demands about 10 hours a week.
Any aspiring designer can get the Nielsen Norman Group UX Certification by taking five courses and passing five exams. You can take the five courses at any UX conference, all at once or one at a time. The exams are conducted online. In addition to getting a certificate you can share with your professional networks, you will also be listed on the Nielsen Norman Group website’s list of UX Certified practitioners. You can also do interaction design, UX management, and UX research.
The Bentley University certificate program can be taken online or in person. You will receive a certificate for completing nine courses, three of which are required. The courses are taught as 2-day intensives. At the end of each course is a portfolio assignment with two weeks to complete it.
Gain UX Experience
While you don’t need professional experience to get started, some hands-on practice doesn’t hurt when you’re on the hunt for your first job. Here are some ways to do that:
Get an Internship
There are plenty of paid and unpaid UX design internships available for beginners. Whether it is as part of a large team at an enterprise or as the only UX designer for a small firm, working on a business problem can set you up as a professional. Look for internships on job boards and LinkedIn. You can also reach out to mentors and connections to find a position at their workplace.
Work on UX Tools
Mastery of UX tools will give you the confidence to demonstrate your skills. Get acquainted with a wide range of tools such as Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, Maze, and Balsamiq. However, you don’t need to master them all. Focus on 1-2 necessary for your specialization and become an expert at them.
Promote Your Skills
Now that you have learned the skills, mastered the tools, and gained hands-on experience, it is time to put yourself out there. You can do this by:
Starting your own blog
where you discuss your ideas and share your opinions on the field of UX design
Publishing a portfolio
of your work. In addition to showing your samples, include case studies that walk the reader through your choices and decisions
Connect with people in learning groups
online, exchange ideas, and collaborate with them on assignments
With that, you’re all set to take an entry-level job in UX design.
5 Entry-Level UX Designer Jobs You Can Get Without Experience
Junior UX Designer
This generalist position is one of the most common entry-level UX designer jobs. As a junior UX designer, you will get exposure to the entire spectrum of the field, working with seniors and learning from them. At a smaller firm, you might get to do all UX tasks such as user research, information architecture, UI design, testing, etc. At a larger firm, you are more likely to specialize in one or two of these aspects.
Much of the hiring process for this will involve tests about theoretical UX and behavioral skills and an evaluation of your portfolio. Junior UX designers earn an average of $64,000, according to Glassdoor.
A UX specialist is typically a role for experienced designers, but not all of them are so. Take, for instance, this role at Barclays:
Focussed on email and other communications, this UX specialist role allows you to gain an entry into the field without experience. This is a perfect role for someone transitioning from visual/graphic design to UX. The average salary of a UX specialist is $51,200, according to LinkedIn Salary.
John Kolko, the author of Thoughts on Interaction Design, defines interaction design (IxD) as the dialogue—physical and/or emotional—between a person and a product or service. Whether through aesthetics, motion, sound, animation, or other interactions, the job of an IxD designer is to make these interactions pleasant and meaningful. It has significant overlap with UI design and animation for digital products.
As a beginner, interaction design is an excellent entry-level UX designer job. Unlike the generalist UX designer role, interaction designers specialize right from the start, building a differentiated career. An interaction designer earns an average salary of $75,000.
Entry-level UX Researcher
UX research combines qualitative and quantitative research with the practical applications of human-centered design. It brings the meticulousness of statistics and research together with intuition and empathy. The UX researcher’s role is much less about developing digital products and more about building the intelligence to create effective and impactful ones. Check out this UX researcher position at Meta:
For those with a research bent of mind, this is among the best entry-level UX jobs. The average salary of an entry-level UX researcher is $84,000.
Junior Product Designer
A product designer is often a UX designer with closer ties to development and business functions. The primary responsibilities of a product designer include collaborating with cross-functional product teams and engineers; transforming functional requirements into sketches/prototypes; working with style guides and design systems throughout user journeys; participating in design feedback and critique sessions, etc.
This is more of a collaborative role, making it one of the best entry-level UX jobs for reasons of wider exposure and holistic experience. The average salary of a junior product designer is $84,000.
How To Increase the Odds of Getting Hired as a UX Designer With No Experience
As we’ve seen above, there are plenty of opportunities in UX design. Organizations are open to hiring fresh graduates and career transitioners without prior experience in the field. To make yourself attractive for entry-level UX jobs, make sure of the following.
Build a Solid Theoretical Foundation.
Learn the basics of UX design, understand best practices, know the latest trends, etc.
Focus on a few UX skills such as design thinking, wireframing, prototyping, etc., and master them.
Put Your Knowledge to Practice.
Create a portfolio of UX designs, write case studies, and take up internships or freelance projects.
Find a Mentor.
Complement your learning journey with the mentorship of a senior UX designer who can guide you in the right direction and clear roadblocks.
Expand Your Network.
Join online communities of UX design, follow influencers and collaborate with peers.
To stay ahead in a rapidly evolving field like UX design, continue to upskill. This could be specializing in a rare area, developing UX management skills, etc.
Apply for Jobs Confidently.
Beginners are often reluctant to apply for UX design positions as they don’t feel entirely qualified for them. While it is natural, it is also essential to overcome. Once you’ve gained the skills, experience, and exposure, apply for jobs confidently. Don’t be discouraged by rejections. Reach out to recruiters, seek feedback and improve your profile as you go along.
Since you’re here…
Are you a future UX designer? Enroll in our UI/UX Bootcamp and join over 10,000 students who have successfully changed careers with us. Want to get wireframing right this second? Check out our free UX learning path today.