Design & UX

5 steps to start a career as a Designer - my personal experience

| 4 min read

Some time ago, when I made a decision that I wanted to work as a UI/UX Designer, I had no idea how to start. At the time I was working as a Graphic Designer so I thought that it would be an easy change, with just changing tools and things to design. I was wrong.

I started out by googling further information about what it takes to be a UI/UX Designer. It was at this moment that reality kicked in for me, I was faced with thousands of articles about the necessity of coding, psychology, animation skills, UX terminology, etc. I felt overloaded with the tons of knowledge that I’d have to know before any company would notice me. This led me to feel discouraged, as I had no knowledge about any of those professions. At this moment in my life, I had just graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, so where was the IT world for art life?

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Based on my experience, my mistakes, and good steps I would like to share my personal recommendations to finding work as a Junior UI/UX Designer.

From my experience and professional growth, I disagree with the statement that you need to know everything to start.

The first step and the most important thing is focusing on one direction. Don't try to learn everything. As a first step, I'd recommend finding "one" field to focus on. You should understand from the beginning of your journey that you can't be a master in all fields of Product Design. The path I chose was UI Design, as I had Graphic Design behind me. This may show that you could always factor in your previous experience and education when making the choice.

Second step, when choosing my path, I was trying to learn as much as I could. I started learning from the Net. As there are many courses and apps, I will narrow it down for you. I recommend the UXCEL app (app.uxcel.com). This app allowed me to easily learn design theory and check my knowledge through the quick test after each chapter, allowing interactive learning. It is also good to get familiar with Gestalt Principles and the laws of UX.

If you prefer learning from articles, take a look at sites like Medium (medium.com), nngroup (nngroup.com), or smashing magazine (smashingmagazine.com). Being up to date, and looking for inspiration is crucial, this kind of content can be found on Dribbble, Behance, or Awwwards.

Third step, as the next you can take is getting familiar with UX/UI design Software. Nowadays, most designers use Sketch and Figma. My journey started with Figma. When in doubt, head on over to Youtube, there are plenty of tutorials in this area. I'd recommend this one.

Of course, Figma is not the only tool we use on a daily basis. If you want to get more familiar with different programs used on a daily basis, try Slack, Miro, and FigJam.

Fourth step, and crucial, is to START DESIGN!

The easiest way to start is to find some inspiration on Dribbble or Behance. From the very beginning of my journey, I looked for projects and tried to copy them in Figma. When I was able to create shapes and components I tried to redesign them differently. Learning from others is the most valuable lesson I could pass on. So don't feel bad about copying somebody's work. You are learning! Maybe during copying, you will find out more about the idea of the project and will understand why the designer made those decisions. Remember that you cannot publish it as your idea anywhere!

Fifth Step, find the person who will provide you with constructive feedback

There are plenty of groups for Designers on Facebook, join some and ask for feedback. I did it and I found a man who was giving me feedback and advice on how to carry on projects. Those meetings gave me a lot of knowledge in a very short time. For me, this last step was like a cornerstone. When I started getting feedback, my design abilities boosted very quickly. I did my portfolio very quickly and thanks to it I found a job that I am working at now. That was only my personal steps and recommendation. I may say that the last two steps are like a never-ending story. When you start designing and developing your skills you will feel what you should do next.

Designer's work is full of knowledge and directions to choose from, but the most important is to grab some basics to feel the need of learning and develop your skills in the way you want.