You long to get into UX Design, as you want to make products more user-friendly and help companies achieve sales. You’ve thought of taking some UX courses to learn more about the field, but something’s holding you back. It seems like such a complicated area of study that might require years to master. So, how long does it take to become a UX Designer?
There’s no specific length of time it takes to become a UX Designer. If you have some experience and knowledge on this topic, then you could spend a year or less on education. Those who possess no experience or knowledge on UX Design should consider attending a university or taking an online course first. That means it may be roughly two years, sometimes four, before you truly understand UX Design.
In this article, we’ll break down all facets of this exciting career path.
We’ll tell you what you’d do as a UX Designer, how long it should take you to learn this area of design, and whether you can speed up the process.
You can then decide if UX Design is the right career for you.
Who Is A UX Designer?
A User Experience or UX Designer works on products and apps to make them more user-friendly. They typically focus on certain areas of the design, such as the interaction between computers and humans.
UX Design has several elements to it, among them are:
- The aforementioned human-computer interaction
- Compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG
- System accessibility, including how easily users understand the product
- Interaction design
- Information architecture
- Visual design, sometimes also referred to as visual communication, communication design, user interface design, or graphic design
What Do You Do Daily as a UX Designer?
If you become a UX Designer, what kind of regular duties should you expect to undertake?
Like most jobs, you don’t do the exact same thing day in and day out. You’ll often work with different parties, among them are – interaction designers, visual designers, graphic designers (if you don’t do the graphic design yourself), developers, and stakeholders.
Most UX Design projects begin with a client brief. People call on these designers to clear up issues on the part of the end user, so their app or product works as well as possible. However, a UX Designer can’t do that without getting a clear picture of the product or app they’re supposed to work on.
Thus, in the beginning, the UX Designer will do field research and computer-based research to plan their project. They want to learn more about their client, yes, but also the product. They’ll try to perceive the issues customers or users have with the product and how they can then fix these.
From there, the UX Designer works on a first draft, forming personas that match the real behaviors and traits customers embody. Upon completing that task, they can start on their prototypes, site mapping, and creating information architecture. Of course, they’re working with the client the entire time to ensure their complete satisfaction along the way.
Once the project gets to this stage, it’s time to take the prototypes—often made of paper this early on—and make them a little more permanent. That’s done with wireframe design. After finishing their work on the wireframes, the UX Designer does a lot of user testing to get the prototype just right. As the client expresses their satisfaction with the progress of the prototype, eventually, it becomes more interactive.
With time, the UX Designer makes a mockup of the product using visual design. This isn’t the final product yet, but it’s close. Most of the time, a user interface or UI Designer will take care of the mockups, but not always. UX Designers can do it, too.
Then the prototype moves into development and user testing stage, where real people will look for bugs and issues as they use the product. If they find any problems, the UX Designer and their team need to fix these immediately. Then the product gets tested again, and fixed, and tested, and fixed as many times as necessary.
Finally, we move to the product launch stage. Once the product goes live, the UX Designer should still stick around to make changes based on feedback and reported bugs. Also, they may update the product from time to time.
If you want to get a complete idea of how to design an application from Concept to finished UI, then we highly recommend getting a copy of Step-by-Step Web App Design book.
How Long Does It Take to Learn UX Design?
Now that you know what a UX Designer’s job encompasses, you may want to become one now more than ever. However, you don’t know much of anything about UX Design. So how long will it take you to learn it?
As we mentioned in the intro of this article, it depends.
If you have absolutely no experience in UX Design, you’re essentially learning it from the ground up. That will require some learning, often in a university setting or online. While you could pick up the skills for the job in a few months, more realistically, it might take a year or several.
If you’re semi-adept at UX, then you could probably learn it faster. Here’s a great story about a UX Designer who honed his craft in under a year. It’s possible, but not if you’re completely green.
Keep in mind that making a move to a new career isn’t a race. You don’t want to cram your learning down into a few months and later find out you missed key chunks of understanding UX Design. That could keep you from getting a job.
Also, even if you do get familiar with all the concepts and elements of UX Design, you’re never quite done learning. The field always evolves and changes with new tech. You have to be right there along with it, updating your own knowledge. If you only want to do a bit of learning and then start a new career right away, then maybe you want to reconsider UX Design. It can take a long commitment, plenty of passion, and a persistent willingness to learn.
Where Can You Learn UX Design?
So far in this article, we’ve mentioned going to a university or taking a course for UX Design. While you can do that, it’s not feasible for everyone. Some people have full-time jobs and want to learn UX in their own time. If so, try these online courses. Some are even free!
These courses include:
- CareerFoundry, which promises it takes less than 10 months for you to finish the course and work in UX Design.
- LearnUX, which is admittedly aimed towards those already working in the UX and UI fields; it could aid in your learning, too.
- Ironhack, a boot camp for aspiring UI and UX Designers.
- Bitesize UX, which includes courses that will give you real experience in UX Design.
- Springboard, a free online course.
You can also check out this comprehensive list here from SwitchUp. Some learning is online-based and others at real universities and other educational institutions. If you can’t find anything near you, then go local. Look into colleges and universities in your state and see if they offer courses in UX Design.
What Can You Do to Learn UX Design Faster?
If you’ve enrolled in a course for UX Design, then it’s probably going to take you at least a year to learn this topic inside out. There’s really no way around it. That said, you can speed up the process somewhat by doing the following:
- Find a mentor who can help you. Ideally, this person should work in UX Design themselves, either actively or in the past. They can teach you the ins and outs you don’t always get through classroom lessons.
- When new web design tools come out, learn them immediately. This will help you excel.
- Start your own projects as if you had a client asking you to do them. No, you don’t get paid, and no, these aren’t real projects, but that’s okay. Making prototypes and outlines will get you familiar with the requirements of a real UX Designer’s job. You could even add these projects to your portfolio, which can help you when you apply to UX positions.
- Subscribe to a few design publications. Read the content as often as you can.
- Practice designing often. Ask for constructive criticism so you can keep improving. Save your old designs to compare them against your new ones and see how far you’ve come.
- Know a little bit about UI Design as well. Your job sometimes intersects with that of a UI Designer, as we talked about. Having some familiarity in that field will serve you well.
UX Designers work to make a user’s experience better with a product or app. They’re involved in key parts of the product’s development from beginning to end. To become a UX Designer yourself, you’ll need to know this area incredibly well.
If you already have some UX knowledge, then it shouldn’t take you more than a year or so to grasp all the concepts and elements. Those with no knowledge should enroll in a course or university, online or offline. It can then take a few years to learn UX Design.
Remember, it’s not a race or a competition. By working at your own pace, you will eventually achieve your goals and become a UX Designer. Working with a mentor, studying new tools, reading design publications, and staying abreast of the industry can also help you learn UX Design faster. Good luck!