How to Become a UX/UI Designer: Career Exploration For Students

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Curious about UX/UI Design as a career? In this post, we’ll talk about what UX/UI Designers do, why they are essential for the economy, what skills you need to be a designer, industries you can expect to work in, schools and programs that will equip you for a career in this field, and other resources.

What is UX/UI Design? It is fair to say that there is a difference between UX Design and UI Design. UX and UI design are two different elements of a single consumer experience. UX refers to the user experience, which focuses on how something works and how people interact with it. UI, or user interface on the other hand, focuses on the look and layout.

In the words of Paul Norton, a partner at Google Ventures and ex-product manager at Google, “UX is focused on the user’s journey to solve a problem; UI is focused on how a product’s surfaces look and function.”

You may choose to be a UX designer, UI designer or both- a UX/UI designer. It all depends on the skills you have, your interests and how far you’re willing to go to acquire more skills.

A typical UX/UI designer’s job include the following tasks: Creating user-centered designs by understanding business requirements, the voice of the customer, user journeys, customer feedback, and usability findings; Quickly and efficiently create user flows, wireframes, prototypes, low and high fidelity mockups; Communicate with product and engineering teams, as well as business stakeholders and executive leadership; Ensure the voice of the customer is present by incorporating customer feedback, usage metrics, and usability findings into design, etc.

User experience is not only about interacting with for-profit companies. Socially-driven organizations, such as churches, libraries, and government agencies, are using software to mediate their relationships with members, patrons, and residents.

Every type of organization has its own special set of users to innovate for. In a healthcare system, patients, doctors, and nurses are usually the first to be designed with. The really innovative hospitals are carefully crafting experiences for even more groups of people, like the family members of patients and office managers.

UX/UI provides a competitive edge and allows the companies to enhance customer satisfaction hence improving ROI, it helps business owners and executives to understand their audience as well as to build their brand. It is also important to note that effective UX/UI design saves the companies time and money.

Check out this video for some more insight into how to get started as a UX Designer

Skills needed for a UX/UI Design career

There are definitely some shared skills that both UX and UI designers need, including collaboration, user empathy, curiosity, communication skills, and visual communication skills.

And, of course, there are skills that are unique to each role. UX designers typically have experience with organizing and executing research, wireframing, prototyping, information architecture, interaction design, coding, and analytics.

UI designers usually have experience with responsive visual interface design, layouts and grid systems, visual hierarchy, typography, color theory, animation, accessibility, and A/B testing.

Industries that require UX/UI designers

Due to the need for UX/UI design across multiple fields, UX/UI designers have the option to work in almost any field they’re interested in. Some of the industries in which UX/UI designers can work are: Automotive Industry, Healthcare Industry, Education Industry, Food Tech Industry, Finance Industry, etc and the titles or roles they hold may vary.

Examples of titles UX/UI designers may hold are: Product Designer, Motion Designer, Visual Designer, Interaction Designer, UX Architect, UX designer, Information Architect, UI designer, etc.

Economic outlook.

A UX/UI designer’s salary is higher than the average annual income in America with the top 3 highest paying states for UX/UI designers being Washington, Maryland and Nebraska with $108,521, $106,682 and $104,503 respectively while the lowest paying states for UX/UI designers are Illinois, Mississippi and Arkansas with $77,956, $78,091 and $78,382 respectively.

Your next steps

You can become a UX/UI Designer by having a tech related 4 year degree in areas such as Computer Science, Web Programming, Information Architecture, and Visual Design. Some of the top schools offering these courses are UCLA, Stanford University, MIT, Indiana University Bloomington, and Full Sail University. You can also choose to take a 2 year Associate Degree in computer science from schools such as Austin Community College and Westchester Community College.

Now, you don’t necessarily need to have a technical university degree to be able to become a UX/UI Designer. You can easily opt for online courses that are easily available across elearning sites such as Coursera, Skillshare, and Udemy as well as specific learning sites for UX/UI design such as SuperHi, UX Academy and DesignLab. You can also get certified for the UX/UI related courses you take on Coursera which are taught by some of the well known schools such as University of Michigan, New York University, and University of Minnesota.

If you’re interested in UX/UI Design as a career, you can check out some of the schools that I’ve mentioned. Feel free to visit their websites and search for more information. You can also contact the course representatives and I’m sure they will be happy to provide you with more information on their school and admission process. Some of the schools I have mentioned also offer financial aid and scholarships should you happen to need help funding your studies.

The ball is in your court now.

Do your research. Talk to your guidance counselors at school or professionals who can help you understand more about the field and how to become a successful UX/UI Designer. Research schools, programs or self-directed learning opportunities that will be a good fit for you and, most importantly, believe in yourself and keep your dreams alive.

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