If you fancy yourself as a UI designer, you’ve made a great choice! A career in UI design promises creativity, longevity, and a great salary to boot.
There’s just one problem: You feel like you can’t become a UI designer without relevant experience—but you’re not sure how to get the right experience without having basic UI design skills.
You’re stuck in career change paralysis mode, and we’re here to break you out.
In this blog post, we’ll show you how to become a UI designer with no experience, and how to boost your chances of getting hired as a newcomer to the field.
These are the sections we’ll cover:
- What is UI design?
- Is it possible to get into UI design with no previous experience?
- What steps do you need to take to become a UI designer?
- How can you increase your chances of getting hired?
- What next?
Ready to kick-start your journey into UI design? Let’s get started!
1. What is UI design?
Before we jump into the process of becoming a UI designer, let’s first get on the same page about what UI design entails—and how it’s different from UX design.
UI design is the process of incorporating usability principles to design the graphic layout of a desktop or application. Everything users see and interact with—including text, buttons, images, menus, sliders, forms, transitions, animations, and layouts—has to be designed.
This role falls to UI designers, who design the look, feel, and interactivity of a digital product.
UI designers don’t just make websites and apps look pretty. They use design principles (like Fitts’s Law, for example) to make sure websites are usable, accessible and intuitive—as well as aesthetically pleasing.
UI designers often work in tandem with UX designers to design the end-to-end digital product. While UX designers are more concerned with an interface’s usability and functionality, UI designers are primarily responsible for an interface’s look and feel.
To learn more, check out our guide to the difference between UX and UI design. You can also watch this video, where designer Dee contrasts the two:
2. Is it possible to get into UI design with no previous experience?
In a word: Yes.
As is the case with many tech professions, you don’t need a background in design—or UI design qualifications—to forge a successful career in UI. Employers are much more concerned about whether or not you have the in-demand skills and mastery of the tools to do the job of a UI designer. Anyone can learn these skills, including you!
Still not convinced? Just ask Kylie, who transitioned into a career in UI design after running a hotel business. Kylie trained for a career in hospitality, but after getting a taste for UX/UI design, she decided to retrain—and landed her first UI design role within five months of graduating from her bootcamp course.
In reality, all you really need to become a UI designer is a computer which can support the relevant design software, the time and money to complete your career change, and the motivation to make the switch. Which brings us to the next section…
3. What steps do you need to take to become a UI designer?
Now you know you don’t need a degree or experience to become a UI designer, what are the practical steps you can take towards breaking into the field?
Know your transferable skills
Before you render your previous experience completely redundant, it’s important to understand that there’s more to being a UI designer than just being able to design interfaces. Successful UI designers need to be creative, empathetic, and motivated. They also have the ability to take on feedback and effectively communicate your vision and ideas. If you already have some of these qualities, you might be further along on your journey to becoming a UI designer than you think!
Build your technical knowledge
While soft skills are important, you’ll want to get a foundation in the fundamentals of UI design, as well as learn some of the basic skills.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to build your technical knowledge and tip your toes into the field, without necessarily having to commit to a full career-change course.
Start by watching UI design tutorials, reading blog posts, and attending workshops. You can always enroll in a free UI design course, where you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the field and get stuck in with practical tasks.
Develop your UI skillset
Once you’ve got to grips with the basics of UI design, you’ll need to keep adding to your skillset and developing your proficiencies.
If you want to make sure the skills you’re learning are in-demand with today’s employers, you might want to consider investing in a full UI design bootcamp program. There, you’ll be paired with a dedicated mentor and tutor who can support you along your journey, and graduate with a job-ready portfolio to showcase your new found skills.
To learn more, check out our step-by-step guide to becoming a UI designer in 2023.
4. How can you increase your chances of getting hired?
With any career change, your number one priority is being able to find a job—and UI design is no exception.
As long as you have the demonstrable hard and soft skills employers look for, you shouldn’t have any significant problems with finding a job as a UI designer. But there are a few additional measures you can take to stand out on the job market.
UI design is a flourishing field, with a growing community of passionate designers.
Instead of firing off your resumé, immerse yourself in the field by attending networking events, webinars, and workshops. Here, you’ll actually get face time with potential employers, and meet like-minded designers who, like you, also transitioned into the field without a relevant background.
Build a personal brand
Building a personal brand isn’t just for influencers. Finding ways to showcase your superpowers and transferable skills can help you stand out to employers, make connections, and increase visibility. It’ll also show employers that you have a vested interest in UI design that goes beyond just finding a job.
Not sure how to get started? Read our guide to building a personal brand for your tech career.
Build your portfolio
If you’ve opted for a bootcamp course, you’ve likely graduated with a professional, job-ready portfolio. That doesn’t mean you have to stop developing it!
The more projects you have in your portfolio, the higher your chances of getting hired.
You can take on smaller projects of your own accord, like redesigning existing apps or websites—or reaching out to small businesses and offering your services for free or discounted rates.
5. What next?
Phew—that was a lot to take in! Hopefully, this article has helped you overcome any nagging doubts about your lack of experience. If you really want to become a UI designer, and have a genuine interest in the discipline, your background should be the last thing holding you back!
Even the most seasoned UI designers started from somewhere, and many successful UI designers transitioned into the field from completely unrelated professions.
Now, all you have to do is commit yourself to the journey. Why not enroll in our free UI Design Short Course to get started? You’ll learn the fundamentals of UI design, as well as what a career in UI design might look like.
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