Five Tricks for Breaking into UX Design


The field of User Experience Design is growing rapidly. According to Qconnects, a California-based talent agency, requests for UX designers rose by 70% from 2011 to 2012, with starting salaries averaging $60,000 (Usability Professionals Association, 2011 Salary Survey). There’s high demand, a shortage of supply, and in that gap, a fantastic opportunity for individuals to learn these critical skills and transition into the field. Here are five easy ways to get started:

1. Find and solve a problem from your day-to-day life

Nothing helps you absorb the principles you’re reading about better than putting them into practice. Identify a small problem, and go through the design process of fixing it. Irritated by the line at your coffee shop? How could it be fixed? Frustrated by your local bus service? How could it be made better?
Bonus tip: Document your process along the way — you can turn all this work into a portfolio piece.

2. Meet people in the industry and brush shoulders with the experts

Check out a local chapter of Interaction Design Association, a UX Meetup group near you, or UX related conferences and events. If there’s a blogger or individual you follow on twitter, reach out to them and ask them to meet for coffee.  Find out what it really means to be a UX designer on a day-to-day.
Bonus tip: See if they might have a freelance project for you to work on – paid or unpaid.

3. Play around with the UX tools and learn the tricks of the trade

UX designers bring their ideas to life with a few different types of tools, it’s great to be familiar with some of them. Some great ones to check out are Balsamiq and OmniGraffle for wireframing, and Prototyping on Paper (POP) for prototyping.
Bonus tip: Get comfortable with one of these tools and list it on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

4. Take on a pro bono project to build your portfolio

This doesn’t have to be formal, there are opportunities everywhere that need a design mind. Whether it’s your friend’s website or a small startup that’s caught your eye, ask them if you can help out.
Bonus tip: Three high-quality pieces are a good rule of thumb for your portfolio.

5. Develop a UX perspective and share it

Educate yourself with UX theory, principles, practices and trends. You can start with these classics: Don’t Make Me Think, Design is a Job, and Quora: Becoming a UX Designer Thread.
Bonus tip: Share your unique perspective by participating in conversations on Twitter, posting your thoughts on a blog and following top designers on Quora, etc.

General Assembly offers a full-time User Experience Design Immersive program.

Application Deadline is this Friday, February 14th.
Learn More About our UX Design Immersive Here