Think “I know enough UX & Moving into UX is easy”? But is it really that easy?

I keep getting different remarks from aspiring UX’ers when they join my Mentoring. With UI developers, I keep hearing “I work with UX designers always. So I know enough about UX. I don’t have to learn anything. But I need a portfolio”. While from UI designers, i hear them remark “Oh ! the UX, I know what they do! They create a wireframe. I know much more than that. I am good at Adobe software. So it’s easy for me.” With Business Analysts, they believe “I know what UI/UX guys do. I know enough UX. I just need a portfolio”. So most of the professionals who want to transition over to UX from closely related domains think that to get a UX job, all they need is a portfolio. This is a notion that is common among those who are trying to move into UX from related domains such as Web/App Development, Business Analysis, Visual Design, Architecture etc. Most of them assume that they already know enough to enter and get a UX job. They understand UX is one of the most in-demand & rewarding careers in the Tech and startup world and all they need to do is to create a portfolio, rebrand themselves as UX designer, mention a few UX terminologies here and there on their CV, resume and they hope they will land up a UX job. How I wish, it were that easy?

But with such a wrong notion & approach, you have to seriously pray that you dont get into the hands of a real UX Hiring manager with solid UX background, knowledge and experience. Because if you fall into the hands of a seasoned UX practioner, the gap in your UX knowledge and experience will be exposed and you may have to leave the interview session feeling all-self esteem lost and totally confused. So here are 4 things you can do if you want to enter UX and if you are coming from related domains of UX:

  1. Just like all positions, UX positions also entail certain unique skills that you have to learn. For example, to get into a Web Development role, a person needs to learn javascript frameworks, CSS, HTML etc and for Visual Design role, a candidate should know certain tools, colour theory, excellent knowledge of layout, fonts etc. Similarly, when you are entering UX, you have to know how to conduct user research to understand the problem space, should have conceptulization and visualization skills, ability to translate user requirements into product features & prioritizing them based on business cases, know how to prototype, and carry out UX review of an existing product using predictive cognitive and behavioural models of user proven by scientific community and usability testing to know the why behind a particular user behaviour to mention a few. So if you believe you know everything without learning these unique skills of a UX designer, may be its time for you to go back to a few good books and courses of UX and to find a mentor for yourself.
  2. Develop the mindset of a UX designer. Start asking the why behind a design. For example, when you find a UI element such as a button on a screen, you have to remember that its there not because the marketing team or sales team asked for it. It is there for a reason related to usability, user experience and a business case. So you can start asking Why’s behind every design decision and start to find logic and reasons for a specific look & feel of a product or interface. Once you dig deeper to find the reasons, you will find that each UI element or design decision connects a specific user behaviour to a business case. This very thought will make you explore and learn more about User problems, behaviour, user psychology and business goals.
  3. Once you start learning UX from books & courses, you should try to practice what you learned. You can start applying them in your current job. You can find passion projects. But you have to make sure you apply what you learn. Information learned will never be your knowledge until you apply them and understand the impacts. Applying concepts you learned will also solidify your understanding about the concept.
  4. Once you have sufficient knowledge, you should find a mentor and start working with him/her. A mentor alone can bring you clarity about UX concepts you learned by helping you apply on real projects. Without a mentor, you can achieve the clarity, but it will take years and 100s of trial and error attempts to gain that level of clarity that Mentor can get you in months, if you put in the effort to really learn from your mentor by asking the right question and through right initiatives. But always remember that only with a baseline UX knowledge, you will be able to make good use of the mentoring session. So as first step gain as much knowledge about UX processses, concepts, principles from authentic sources. Then as a next step, start working with an experienced UX mentor.

So the only way to learn the knowledge and experience relevant to the UX domain, if you really want to work in UX jobs. There is no other shortcut. Either you join a program that offers structured learning and practice and mentorship or you can start learning from authentic sources such as books, research papers and then find a few passion projects and apply what you learned.

No matter what your approach is, do understand that what you learned from working in related areas of UX, can only serve as a foundation for what you should know specifically for working in UX domain. What you already know from related domains can never be enough to get into a UX job. Still, things will be lot more easy for you as you will be already familiar with many of the things that you come across in the UX world. Your current experiences, will also help you to better identify connections and similarities between your current domain and UX. In that sense, your progress will be faster than someone who starts to learn UX from scratch. But do remember, without the knowledge that is specifically required in the domain of UX, it will be super hard for you to break into UX just with what you carry over from a related feild such as web/app development, visual design, architecture, business analysis etc.

If you want any help with UX career or if you have any question about UX processes or if you are looking for Mentoring, feel free to connect and ask me and I will certainly help you. I really see a lot of value in staying connected so here are few ways you can connect & stay in touch with me:

  1. FB: https://www.facebook.com/sivaprasad.paliyath
  2. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sivaprasad2020

All the very best. Take care. Stay in touch.