UX Design Expert: 5 Steps from Junior to Senior Level
How to become a UX Designer: 5 Steps from Junior to Senior Level
In this article, you will be mainly learning what is UX design and how to become a UX designer in Canada. Let’s begin with a question that you might have experienced before!
Have you ever run into a website and ended up closing the browser right away because you could not stand how messy the website is? Or sometimes you are browsing a website that is so easy to navigate and has everything you need in there and wonders why it is so different?
Well, the answer to that is a better user experience design.
As users, we are not focusing on what is happening behind that website. But if you consider user experience a career, understanding the foundations and importance of user experience is the first thing you need to learn.
A user experience is an experience that fulfills the user’s needs. It aims to provide positive experiences that keep users loyal to the product or brand. Additionally, a meaningful user experience allows you to define customer journeys on your product that are most conducive to business success.
What is UX Design?
UX (also known as UXD, UED or XD stands for User Experience Design or/and Experience Design) is an experience that a user gains when interacting with a specific product.
The UX design process involves many aspects of work and disciplines, and there is no official definition of UX design. But the most well-known description came from the pioneers in the UX practice, Don Norman and Jakob Nielsen, as they stated:
“UX encompasses all aspects of the end-users interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”
A well-thought UX design facilitates a simple, quick, and less time-consuming solution for users.
It is the responsibility of UX designers to make sure that the product interface is easy to understand and runs smoothly.
How to Become a Senior UX designer?
According to Indeed, UX Designers in Canada earn $70,487 annually. However, UX designers’ salaries can differ based on location, company and experience. Many people switch their careers to UX designers after gaining experience in other fields. For example, psychology, computer science, marketing, or customer service can shift to UX design.
Whether you are new to the field or have some work experience, you can start your career as a UX designer by following these steps.
- Take education in UX design
- Familiarize yourself with UX design tools
- Build your UX design portfolio
- Practice and improve your UX design skills
- Work your way up to Senior UX Designer
Step 1: Take education in UX Design
The most effective way to start a career in UX is by taking structured UX courses and working on practical projects. Cornerstone College now offers a UX/UI Co-op diploma program where we focus on theories and practical skills. Students can choose between two study durations; 12 months or 24 months.
Our courses are custom-created by our Head Tech Program, Tech Program Coordinator and Instructors who have years of experience in the fields. Some of the topics offered in this program are the foundation of UI/UX, design evaluation, product design life cycle, responsive and adaptive design, and analytics.
With us, students will learn about customer-centric design and how to design and evaluate a product from usability and usefulness perspectives.
Step 2: Familiarize yourself with industry tools
There are several tools that UX designers widely use to design and create prototypes and wireframes in the UX design field. If you have no prior experience using design tools, you might want to get yourself a basic knowledge of how these tools work.
Designing: Sketch, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator
- Sketch offers exclusively on macOS. It’s a vector-based design app primarily used for UI and UX design for websites and mobile applications. Because of its simplicity, the tool is excellent for beginners as well.
- Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics and design tool that is easy to use and popular among graphic designers. The device is excellent for early-stage to professional UX designers as it has all functions UX designers need for the UX design.
- Adobe Photoshop is one of the most-used tools and is a well-known image manipulation tool among graphic designs and the photography industry. The agency provides a wide range of functions from beginners to advanced users.
Prototyping: InVision, Proto.io and Adobe XD
- inVision is a prototyping tool that big companies like Spotify, Amazon, HBO, and Netflix use for their UX/UI design mockups interaction and prototypes. The tool is suitable for large companies as it cloud-based tool allowing people to work across teams and devices.
- Proto.io is an application prototype creator tool with drag-and-drop functions available on web browsers. Designers can use this application to create mockup interactions.
- Adobe XD is a vector-based design tool widely used to create prototypes, wireframes, mockups, and full designs. It is considered an entire design program as UX/UI designers can create interfaces, prototypes, animation, and interaction for different platforms such as websites, smartphones, and tablets.
Wireframing: UXPin and Balsamiq
- UXPin is a web-based wireframing, design, and prototyping tool for creating applications and web interfaces. Big companies like HBO, PayPal, Microsoft, and Netflix use UXPin, so knowing your way in UXPin will always be an asset. The tool is easy to learn, and it is an excellent start for beginners.
- Balsamiq focuses on quick, iterative, low-fidelity designs that are more concerned with the overall structure and content without getting bogged down with the small details. The application’s pared-down feature set makes it incredibly easy to learn by focusing on creating wireframes quickly and efficiently.
Free UX design tool Figma, GIMP and Origami Studio
- Figma is a free, online web-based application for design and wireframing. This makes it an excellent option for beginning designers, as learning how to use Figma can help you land a job in the future.
- GIMP is a free and open-source graphic design program used for image manipulation, editing, drawing, and illustration. GIMP is an open-source project that is an excellent alternative to Photoshop. Even though GIMP doesn’t have the same feature set as Photoshop, it can provide a way for you to get started as a UX designer without a significant investment.
- Origami Studio is a free prototyping tool built for internal use on Facebook. This makes it an excellent option for someone who wants to learn more about UX/UI design without investing too much capital.
Step 3: Build your design portfolio
Knowing how to build a portfolio for a UX designer is essential for you to stand out. If you are new to the field, you might wonder where you can start. As a student or someone who does not have any experience in UX design, it isn’t easy to put up a compelling profile. Well – if there is a will, there is a way.
Unlike most short UX/UI design courses, Cornerstone students will have a chance to build more substantial portfolios with practical projects during their academic period. In addition to that, the co-op period will be a vast advantage to students to gain more experience and have a chance to build more connections and strengthen their portfolios.
Step 4: Practice and improve your UX design skills
Practice is the key to your success in this industry. One of the best ways to get started is to work as a UX designer.
Typically, Jr. UX designers work with a team of UX designers and assist them with less complex tasks. For example, conduct user research, organize, analyze research findings, assist in all design processes and usability testing.
Step 5: Work your way up to Senior UX Designer
A higher position means higher responsibilities. According to Indeed, becoming a Sr. UX designer requires a minimum of five years of experience and proficiency in technical and soft skills combined.
Once you start your career in UX design, it is important that you learn new skills and new challenges. New challenges are important for you as a UX designer to improve your skills.
You can sign up for many freelance platforms and work on different projects. That way, you can add those companies to your CV, and ultimately you will find better and better jobs.
What Do UX Designers Do?
UX designers are responsible for designing the experience that users have when interacting with a product. The UX design process involves several key aspects such as user research, persona development, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, and high-fidelity design and user testing.
1. User research
This UX design skill is a must-have talent that every UX researcher needs to get. Most job openings for UX designers are related to these skills and it is your first key to getting into the industry.
Consider as a core of the UX design; user research is used to understand the users and their problems and needs.
Primarily focusing on behaviours, motivations and desires, the UX design process aims to gather as many insights and feedback from the users to identify opportunities and solutions. The standard methods for data collection are surveys, user interviews and focus groups.
2. Persona development
The persona development process is based on patterns and common characteristics found from the user research results. Each persona helps the UX designers get a clearer picture of their potential users.
The users’ demographics, motivations, needs, values, and potential responses give clues to UX designers when building the product for their potential users.
3. Information Architecture
Information Architecture is all about organizing consistent information that helps users navigate products or services. The clearer and easy-to-understand language help users find their way around the website without confusion.
As a first step of building the final product, UX designers will create initial sketches of the product’s screens or stages called wireframing.
Wireframing can include the first look of UI design elements that will guide further product development. However, the design elements will gradually modify as the process moves forward.
5. Prototyping and high-fidelity design
Once the wireframes are established, the next step for UX designers is to create prototypes and high-fidelity designs that have a look, feel and capabilities as close as the final product possible.
6. User testing
User testing is one of the most common ways UX designers test their designs. Typically, users will interact with a prototype of the final design then UX designers will gather feedback to analyze the design performance.
What Skills Do UX Designers Need?
UX designers use a combination of technical skills and soft skills. Some skills are more general than others. After seeing this list, you might already have these skills in hand. At the same time, some might require additional education, specifically in UX/ UI design.
- Research and strategy
- Wireframing and prototyping
- Web and mobile platform understanding
- Project management and collaboration
So what are technical and soft skills for UX designers? – Let’s have a look.
Research and strategy
To determine users’ needs and interact with the product, UX designers need to understand research methods and strategies.
A solid understanding of conducting research, planning data collection methods, and interpreting and analyzing findings will distribute a solid foundation of a well-executed UX design.
Wireframing and prototyping
A prototype is not an early version of the final product. It’s a communication tool—the primary communication tool used to convey aspects of the final design’s user-facing elements.
This technique will help you to organize your UX design process to run your projects smoothly with your team.
To communicate how UX designs should be, UX designers need to use creative tools to create prototypes and wireframes. An ability to use innovative tools like Sketch, InVision, Figma, Adobe XD and Adobe Illustrator is demanded from UX designers.
Web and mobile platforms understanding
Nowadays, users engage with mobile phones more than they do with computers. But it does not mean that UX designers should not consider how their design will look and feel on the desktop or laptop screens.
UX designers should understand how to create a responsive design that works well across different computer and mobile phone screens. It is always good to be familiar with demanding web development skills to make a difference in the UX design industry.
Project management & collaboration
To move on from the design process to the development stage, UX designers need solid project management skills to lead, coordinate and deliver projects on time.
On a day-to-day basis, UX designers collaborate with different teams. A strong ability to collaborate, listen, and convey a clear message to others is essential for successful teamwork.
Having empathy means the ability to understand how users think and feel. The lack of empathy can assume that users will approach the product the same way the developers do. Unfortunately, most developers overlook this skill; as a result, it leads to a low-quality UX design.
UX designers work with many different people for most of their day-to-day work. A UX designer with strong communication skills will convey the right message to the right people at the right time.
Now, you are here; towards the end of this article, we want to sum up steps you can take to start your career as a UX designer.
First, get a hands-on introduction to the UX Design Co-op Diploma Program This way, you will learn UX/UI foundations, acquire software certificates and most importantly, work in the position with a company in Vancouver.
Second, you need as much experience as possible. You need a lot of practice to do that, whether as part of school projects or freelance projects. The easiest way to practice without investing in any tools is to get started with hand sketches. Once you feel more confident, you can begin practicing a free app or website app to get familiar with the components.
Third, keep learning new skills. In this digital world, technology trends shift all the time. As a UX designer, you need to be up-to-date with recent trends and skills. Consider joining online classes and learning new tools not only for your self-improvement. It might bring many advantages for your career in the future.
And last, if you are unsure if UX/UI designer is the right fit, you can also get in touch with our student advisor to discuss career change and determine if UX is suitable for you.
The first thing you need to do is acquire the knowledge and skills demanded in a UX design position. The first thing you can do is to take some courses to get in UX/UI design industry. The second thing is to learn new technical skills demanded as a UX designer, such as design, prototype and wireframe tools.
As mentioned earlier, technical skills such as user research, wireframe, prototype, web and mobile platform understanding are most important and expected from every UX designer. However, soft skills such as project management, collaboration, empathy and communication are what will set you apart from other UX designers.
Typically, UX design courses offer in various durations. However, if you are new to the field, we recommend taking education for at least a year to learn the foundations of UX. You can start a UX career as a Jr. UX designer then collect your experience as much as possible. Once you start your career, it is good to keep challenging yourself and learn new skills.