How Do You Become a UI/UX Designer?

Learn about UI/UX design, design thinking, and how to become a UI/UX designer in this comprehensive guide.

UI/UX design aims to provide a positive experience that keeps users loyal to a product or brand. Today’s businesses understand the importance of being customer-centric rather than product-centric: that is, using data insights and UI/UX design principles to understand customer needs and design products and services accordingly, rather than launching products they think users will want. User experience designers are among the most sought-after creative roles in an organization, alongside graphic designers and creative directors.

Candidates that UI/UX design credentials on their resume instantly increase their chances of being shortlisted for jobs in a wide range of industries.

What Is UX design?

User experience design, known as UX design, is the process by which design teams create products that provide meaningful user experiences for users while delivering on a business’s brand promise. Good user experience encompasses the entire production process, including product branding, design, usability, and function. Those who become UI/UX designers are tasked with doing research and analyzing user requirements, among other things.

Products that provide a great user experience are designed not only with consumption in mind but the entire process of acquiring, owning, and even troubleshooting the product. UX design essentially entails architecting a pleasurable and efficient customer journey that enables the user to accomplish their desired tasks or goals. UX designers spend more of their time researching user behaviors, testing product usability, and adjusting product offerings accordingly in a continuous feedback loop.

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What Is UI design?

Successful digital products hinge on intuitive interaction design that enables a user to achieve desired tasks with minimal effort. User interface design concerns the visual styling of an app or website. Think things like how icons are designed in the digital world, how they’re arranged on the page, and how they relate to each other. Design elements such as font choice, color scheme, graphics, buttons, and menu styling are all elements of interface design.

Together, these design choices help people understand what items can be clicked, tapped, or swiped, which of a series of buttons is most important, and how to recognize calls-to-action.

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What Is the Difference Between UX Design vs. UI Design?

UI design is a subdiscipline of UX design.

  • UX design concerns studying user behavior and testing product usability
  • UI design focuses squarely on determining how a user interacts with a digital product

UI designers use tools such as animations, copywriting, and visual design principles to help a user navigate a website or mobile app, find information, and complete tasks. They also help users get unstuck. An example is a pop-up chatbot recommending logical next steps if a user spends too much time on one webpage without taking any actions, or an interactive tutorial that explains video game controls.

These user-friendly UI design elements are part of what makes a great user experience, which is what a UX designer is responsible for. After a product launch, UX designers keep a close watch on UX metrics such as website bounce rate or time on site and make adjustments accordingly.

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How Do You Become a UI/UX Designer?

There are a number of different ways to become a UX designer or a UI designer.

  1. Teach yourself. A lot of the fundamental UI/UX design skills can be self-taught. From wireframes, prototypes, and journey maps, the right training and skills can help you meet the growing demands of this rising career field.
  2. Take an online UI/UX design bootcamp or online course. Start with an introductory design course and then progress into a UI/UX design certification course focused on career preparedness. This will help you master applied skills such as research, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, and visual communication. Pick a course that allows you to build a portfolio (to show potential employers) and provides access to an industry professional who can answer questions about the realities of a job as a UI/UX designer. Springboard’s Introduction to Design course lets you get a sense of what it’s like to be a designer while teaching foundational skills in UI/UX design. Find out more about the course here.
  3. Incorporate UI/UX design principles into your work. If you already work for a tech company but not in UI/UX, you can always try to incorporate UI/UX design techniques and design decisions into your work, especially if you work in marketing, product, or customer support. Start by collecting user feedback through surveys, content audits, or reviews. Compile and analyze the data and write a report based on your findings, emphasizing the most salient action items, and pitch these solutions to your team.

What Is a Typical UX/UI Job Description?

A typical UI/UX designer job description incorporates a mix of key responsibilities and qualifications. Potential candidates will be expected to:

  • Create user-centered designs by understanding business requirements, the voice of the customer, user journeys, customer feedback, and usability findings
  • Quickly and iteratively create user flows, wireframes, prototypes, low and high fidelity mockups in their design work
  • Communicate with product and engineering teams, as well as business stakeholders, executive leadership, and other creative professionals
  • Ensure the voice of the customer is present by incorporating customer feedback, usage metrics, and usability findings into design
  • Performing metrics analysis post-launch to inform design/UX optimization efforts
  • Know how to use prototyping tools such as Sketch, Invision, or equivalent
  • Possess excellent communication, presentation, collaboration, and interpersonal skills

Learn more about the key skills, roles, and responsibilities of a UI/UX designer here.

What Is Design Thinking?

Design thinking is a five-step iterative process that encourages designers and creators to examine different problems and assumptions from a variety of untested angles and is an important part of learning how to become a UX designer.

Good UX designers implement design thinking best practices in their work. The design thinking process stages are:

  • Empathy
  • Definition
  • Ideation
  • Prototyping
  • Testing

Learn more about design thinking here.

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UX/UI Design FAQs

Want to know more about how to get into UI/UX design? Read on to find the answers to some frequently asked questions.

Is UI/UX design a good career?

Design has taken a more central role in modern organizations that recognize the importance of a user-centered approach to business. Consequently, UI/UX designers are in high demand. Design is one of the tech industry’s fastest-growing fields. Demand for UI/UX designers is expected to grow by 14.9% over the next 10 years.

In 2018 alone, Glassdoor posted over 24,000 open positions for UX design. UX designers earn an average base salary of $97,189 according to Indeed, while junior designers with 0-2 years of experience make between $56,000-$100,000.

Learn more about UX designer salaries in this guide.

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How can I get a job as a UI/UX designer with no experience?

The major concepts in UX design can be self-taught. Reading up on UX design is a great start: utilize important books on design, UX design, product design. Use case studies to help you understand key UX principles and technical skills, design methods, and processes. Familiarize yourself with design deliverables such as wireframes, prototypes, and journey maps.

Next, structure your learning with a UX course, starting with an introductory design course and then progressing into a UI/UX design bootcamp focused on portfolio building and career preparedness. Formal credentials help you get your foot in the door and build a portfolio while receiving guidance from mentors who are industry professionals on how to become a UI/UX designer.

Finally, follow up with some boots-on-the-ground work experience in UX design, product design, or a related field—and don't forget to work on your own UX design-focused personal projects.

What is the UI/UX design process?

While the UI/UX design process contains several key elements like user research and usability testing, there is no formal process. Generally speaking, however, you can expect to see the following stages: user research; design; testing; and implementation.

  • User research is where you gather information about your users and then create user personas.
  • If you’re working on an existing product, the next step may be user testing to discover areas where the product can be improved. If it’s a new product, you’ll start designing around the user research you’ve accumulated.
  • Next, you’ll prototype and test the product—internally first and then on real users—until you arrive at a minimum viable product (the earliest version of a product that can be released to the market).
  • The iterative process doesn’t stop there, however. As the product launches, you’ll closely track its performance analytics, conduct further user tests, and use those insights to refine the design further.

How long does it take to become a UX designer?

Learning UX design doesn't have to be a long process. You can become a UX designer within two to four years, without a bachelor's degree or master's degree. Start with an introductory design course and then progress into a UI/UX design certification course focused on career preparedness. This will help you master applied skills such as research, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, product design, and visual communication.

Springboard’s Introduction to Design course lets you get a sense of what it’s like to be a designer while teaching the foundational skills required in a UX designer's job. Find out more about the course here.

Can you teach yourself UI/UX design?

Most UX design concepts can be self-taught. There are many online resources to help you get started and land a UX job, including design blogs and tutorials. However, putting these concepts into practice is easier if you take an online bootcamp, where you’ll have the opportunity to work on projects and build your portfolio.

Ready to switch careers to UI/UX Design?

Springboard offers a comprehensive UI/UX design bootcamp. No design background required—all you need is an eye for good visual design and the ability to empathize with your user. In the course, you’ll work on substantial design projects and complete a real-world externship with an industry client. After nine months, you’ll graduate with a UI/UX design mindset and a portfolio to show for it.

Check out Springboard's UI/UX Design Career Track to see if you qualify.

Not sure if UI/UX design is the right career for you?

Springboard now offers an Introduction to Design course. Learn what designers do on the job by working through a project with 1-on-1 mentorship from an industry expert. Topics covered include design tools, research, sketching, designing in high fidelity, and wireframing.

Check out Springboard’s Introduction to Design Course—enrollments are open to all!

Download our guide to UX design fundamentals

This 50-page guide will take you through the foundations of user experience, including information architecture, user experience, and user interface.

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