Want to know how to become a UX Designer? Here's everything you need to know, plus the best UX tools for beginners.
Websites and apps are a big part of our everyday lives, and the need for a better user experience (UX) is greater than ever. That’s why becoming a UX designer is a rewarding and lucrative job – but where do you start?
In this article, we’ll explore UX design as a career, including how to get started in UX design, best practices for UX designers, and some excellent beginner tools to learn UX design skills.
What Is User Experience Design (UXD)?
As the name suggests, User Experience (UX) is the totality of user interactions with an app or program – from merely observing the branding and color scheme to the ease of use and functionality of different features. UX design covers all these aspects and determines how satisfied the users will be with the product.
How to Get Into UX Design
Here are some common paths you can take on your way to becoming a UX designer.
1. UX Design Degrees
While some universities like Purdue offer a UX Design Degree, you can also benefit from studying courses such as Graphic Design, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Information Technology (IT), Psychology, and Anthropology. Anything to do with how humans think, how they interact with machines, and how programming works will be helpful in a UXD career.
2. Online UX Courses & Certifications
There are many excellent online UX courses and certifications, from more expensive and quite extensive UX boot camps like Human Factors International (HFI) or the Career Foundr UXD Program to more reasonably priced Udemy and Udacity courses and even the Google UX Design Certification on Coursera. You can also take free UX courses on Envato Tuts+, including the fundamentals of UX design and an introduction to user journey mapping.
3. UX Tutorials
UX Design Best Practices
To become the best UX designer you can be, you’ll need to impress your clients with streamlined and intuitive designs.
Here are five best practices you should strive to incorporate into your UX design workflow to keep creating exceptional designs that will have the users singing your praises.
1. Know your audience
This is the most fundamental piece of advice given to businesses and designers alike, but it’s also something many get wrong. To create a good UX, you need to understand several factors, including the following:
- Target demographic
- Common user habits
- Customer Journey
- Current trends
- The main pain points users have with similar products
You also need to have a good idea of how customers approach your product, what paths they take, their needs and issues at each stage, and the most efficient way to help them get what they want. Only then can you determine your next step.
2. Keep it simple and consistent
One thing you can count on, regardless of your target demographic, is that most people respond to simple and familiar things.
This is why it’s important to be consistent with your design elements and features so that once a user learns your tricks, they can apply the same logic throughout different website pages, in-app menus, etc.
3. Leverage feedback
It’s easy and a bit cliche to say that UX design is all about understanding what the users need, but to do this you have to actually listen to the user feedback and make the right changes to improve your designs.
You can use UX feedback software to learn what your customers think, and then it’s just a matter of making adjustments and fine-tuning your design.
4. Create usable and accessible designs
The best way to approach this process is not to think only about what you can add to enhance the UX, but what to take away and still have a functional product.
You want the average person to be able to intuitively get from point A to point B, and get comfortable navigating the basic architecture you’ve laid out in a matter of seconds.
5. Never stop testing
Don’t be discouraged by the number of tweaks and modifications needed to create the perfect UX design – no great designer ever stopped at “Version 2”, or even at “Version8.3(REVISION3)Final”.
It can take a bit of back and forth to iron out the kinks in any design, so keep testing and looking for ways to streamline and improve different elements until there is nothing left to tinker with. Product adoption tools like Pendo and its alternatives can further help you with different iterations.
What Are the Best UX Tools for Beginners?
Now that we’ve covered all the basics on what UX design is, how to learn about it, and the best practices involved, let’s take a look at some of the best UX tools for those new to the field.
The tools below will be broken down into three categories, each corresponding to a specific practice involved in any UX project.
Best UX Feedback Tools
As mentioned, getting user feedback is the backbone of every UX project, and the following tools will make this part of the process a whole lot easier for you.
Unobtrusive yet incredibly useful, Qualaroo helps UX designers to collect direct feedback from users with no code required.
Qualaroo offers proprietary NudgeTM for Prototypes which you can easily embed into the design templates of your website or mobile prototypes. You can capture targeted feedback about on-site usability, desirable features, your visitors’ motivations, and ease of use at every stage of the design process.
With Qualaroo, you can gauge user experience with focused surveys, advanced targeting and also have access to visualizations to bring the data you’ve collected to life.
Designed primarily for app performance monitoring, this great tool provides timely alerts when something goes wrong and helps you deal with critical issues faster.
It’s best to learn about hangups and issues well before the users get a chance to complain about them, and Instabug helps you do just that.
If you already have feedback coming in from comments in App stores, it can be difficult to track feedback across different channels.
UserVoice allows you to create custom feedback boards, where you can cover different issues, come up with solutions and even allow users to vote on the best suggestions.
You can choose who gets a say in the problem-solving process, and you can allow anonymous contributors if you need more objective opinions that you can collect through a simple feedback widget.
Best Wireframing & Prototyping Tools
Laying down the foundation for your project and getting the bare bones of the UX design right will make all the subsequent steps far less stressful. Here are a few great prototyping tools to help speed up the wireframing and prototyping part of the job.
This tool has been around for over a decade and has earned the respect of many UX designers worldwide.
Balsamiq is simple and highly effective – it allows you to create low-fidelity wireframes using drag and drop elements and even build simple interactive prototypes.
If you need a quick way to make the most of your brainstorming sessions and get from an idea to a workable design in a short time, this is a great way to start.
Marvel enables you to build realistic prototypes and show your clients and stakeholders exactly what they can expect.
You can use the Sketch tool to come up with quick mockups and go over several iterations before adding additional layers or uploading more images to give everyone a sneak peek at the final product.
6. Adobe XD
If you are looking for something a bit more professional, albeit somewhat more complex, Adobe XD is just the tool for you.
With access to vector drawing tools, Photoshop, a host of unique fonts, and even the ability to add a 3D perspective to your prototypes, you will be able to create highly professional UX designs.
A tool made with creative types in mind, Figma offers a colorful platform where you can quickly build wireframes for future projects and build on those to create more detailed prototypes that will impress your team and your clients.
It provides a database of various searchable assets that you can use to build and share unique styles company-wide.
It is excellent for brainstorming sessions and allows for seamless cooperation between team members to get products out the door on the tightest deadlines.
Best Flowchart UX Tools
Flowcharts are the meat and potatoes of a UX design project, showing how the users will move through the app or site, and getting this part right will usually take the most revisions.
You will need a good tool to quickly draw up different flows, and the following three are perfect for beginners and also suitable for advanced designers.
Everything from the color scheme to the general design and, funnily enough, the UX of FlowMapp is pleasing to the eye, and the whole tool is just amazingly intuitive.
It also allows for some neat collaboration functionalities, where different users can track the progress of each stage of the project and other team members’ tasks. All in all, it is an excellent tool for building sitemaps for small and bigger teams alike.
Geared specifically towards designers, Overflow provides an interactive platform where you can quickly add different elements, import images, and create the best flow charts.
You can do all that on cool device skins so that you will know what the user will see on different devices, and rearranging or connecting different elements is just a matter of clicking or dragging things around.
If app design is your thing, then UXCam has you covered. You can use it to build flowcharts and perfect your app design with several analytics tools.
From heatmaps, app crashes, and screen flow analytics to the ability to set up custom event triggers, where you can replay sessions and hone in on exact user interactions that are giving you trouble – this tool is the complete package.
Deliver the best user experience
Now that you know what UX design is all about, how to prepare for this career, the best practices, and the most useful tools you will need as a beginner, you are ready to take the first step towards becoming a UX designer.
Follow the advice above, and you will be able to deliver the best user experience in no time.
Guest Author: Anurag Pandey
Anurag is an SEO Specialist at Qualaroo. He loves to talk about SaaS Customer Experience Products. As an SEO Professional, his responsibilities include understanding customer needs and user experience, developing organic growth strategies, and overseeing the growth of the product.