UX Consultant Knowledge Base

How to become a UX Designer?

Rebecca Scott

Rebecca Scott, UX Consultant, UX Connections

Here we highlight our expert top tips for entering the field of UX Design

At UX Connections, we are a team of UX Designers and UX Researchers. We aim to create best-in-class interactive experiences and provide our clients with beautiful, detailed, thoughtful UX documentation. As a team we collaborate on projects and review each other’s design work to ensure that all deliverables are pixel perfect. 

We are all from different discipline backgrounds, from computer science to historical studies. But through independent learning, collective knowledge sharing and project collaboration we have worked hard to build a team of expert interaction design consultants. 

At our agency, UX designers work on information architecture documentation, low fidelity wireframes and high fidelity designs. We use a variety of design software platforms to create these kinds of documents. These include: sketch, figma, omnigraffle, XD and the adobe suite. We have the capabilities to create illustrated storyboards, static design documentation and interactive prototypes; we aim to be as flexible as possible and cater to individual project requirements.

In this article we offer 5 top tips for becoming an expert UX Designer:

1. Practice design skills

We believe that it is imperative to practice design skills. Understanding design theory is a useful first step, but theory alone is not enough to create great designs. 

It can be useful to start by identifying examples of great UX and tracing them using a design tool such as Sketch or Figma. This can help you to get a feel for potentially unfamiliar aspects of design such as: using white space, information density and information hierarchy. See our article on ‘Best Practices in User Experience Design’ for more information. 

This exercise is a great starting point as it allows you to get into the mindset of a designer and can help you to develop familiarity with using a particular design tool. As you trace the design it is likely you will begin to question specific elements or think about ways to improve the design. 

From there it can be beneficial to have a go at replicating particular design elements which are exemplative of excellent UX – such as a particular navigation or breadcrumb trail.  

We would also recommend exploring and applying this to different types of design work such as information architecture diagrams, prototypes, wireframes, storyboards etc.

2. Learn to balance creativity with pragmatism

To become a great UX Designer it is essential to be both creative and practical. The job involves coming up with innovative solutions which are feasible and user-centred, to complex problems.

It is important to be curious, seek out inspiration and go through a process of flow to innovate. But UX solutions need to be grounded in user research data, they need to be functional and they need to be technically/financially feasible. 

It can be hard to balance these somewhat opposing skill sets, which use different parts of the brain. But we find using a rigorous, results-driven process for projects helps us to balance these needs for example: having a requirements gathering phase; then an ideation phase where we consider what would be best for the user; and a phase where we refine design specifications in-line with technical feasibility.

Low Fidelity UX Designs

3. Study design principles

It is useful to consider theoretical design principles as they can help you make design decisions and ensure that designs are grounded in UX best practice. Design principles can be particularly useful to leverage if there are multiple viable design options and you need help making a decision. 

Design principles tend to be derived from research in the field of human-computer interaction design, so following these principles means that your designs will be grounded in academic research. Essentially the principles provide simple, actionable design advice. 

Some key examples of design principles include: grouping similar interface elements, making the most of white space and visual hierarchy.

4. Identify best-in-class designs

It is always useful to learn about design through considering excellent examples of design. It is valuable to explore them at a theoretical level i.e. analysing them and also a practical level i.e. replicating them.  Taking the time to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of other people’s designs is incredibly helpful for developing your design instincts. 

We would recommend collecting all of your favourite design examples as sources of inspiration and creating a personal inspiration library. This is great for referring back to when doing design work and is usually fun to create. At UX Connections, we often share our inspiration sources with other members of the team too. 

Creating an inspiration library can also help you to find your own personal design style as you begin to identify your favourite ways of expressing design elements.

UX Mentor at UX Connections Agency

5. Find a mentor

When learning to become a UX Designer, it is incredibly helpful to have a mentor who is an expert in the field. Mentors provide invaluable advice when it comes to solving a UX design problem. They offer an experience-driven perspective, which is often a very different perspective to someone who is new in the industry; both perspectives do have merit though. 

After working in the industry for a certain amount of time, it is easy to recognise designers who have been mentored by a Creative Director or Lead UX. There tends to be much greater rigour to their work and their solutions demonstrate a way of thinking which is broader and more detailed. 

It can be possible to find mentors by messaging people on LinkedIn, working in collaborative UX teams and through asking academic advisors.

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