From Graphic Design To UI: How I Learned The Value Of Designing For The User

Francis started out as a graphic designer, but soon fell in love with the user-centric nature of UI. Here’s how one online bootcamp transformed his career.

by Emily Stevens on 12 March 2018

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Francis was no stranger to the design industry when he ventured into UI. A graphic designer by trade, he worked closely with both UX and UI designers on a regular basis, growing increasingly fascinated by the user-centric nature of their work. He saw how rewarding it could be to have such a direct impact on the user experience, and he too wanted to feel that same sense of achievement.

“Working as a graphic designer at Productiva helped me to understand more about the UI and UX fields. Sometimes I was involved in the creative process and that is how I knew about it. I loved how the designers crafted products from the beginning with a direct connection with the user, and this satisfaction you feel when a user can achieve a goal because you came up with a great approach. I wanted to be part of this.”

Coming from a graphic design background, Francis considers himself more visual than conceptual. In his own words, the art of crafting interfaces and working with colors, shapes and patterns just “got” him – so UI felt like the most natural route to take. When asked about his decision to take a bootcamp course, Francis explains:

“In the Dominican Republic, the UI field is not so well developed, so taking classes locally was not a good idea. I decided to research bootcamps outside of my country, and that’s how I found CareerFoundry.”

The fact that our courses are online does make them highly accessible, but as Francis soon discovered, the human element is still very much present. Reflecting back on his time as a CareerFoundry student, he can’t speak highly enough of his mentor. Coupled with the depth of the course content, regular video calls with his mentor Maria de la Riva made sure he got a firm handle on each and every lesson.

“I really liked how open and willing to help my mentor was. No matter what the question, my mentor always had a great answer to give. Also, I loved the reach of information provided across the curriculum. Every lesson covered something new and interesting, giving you the sensation that you are really learning.”

Elaborating further on the value of having a one-to-one mentor, Francis continues:

“Calls with my mentor were the most useful aspect of the course. It didn’t matter that the course was remote – these video calls with your mentor make the course feel more human. The ideas in a video call are a lot clearer than by text, and you have a more direct and fluid conversation.”

After graduation, Francis was keen to put his newfound skills to work. With his portfolio polished and ready to go, he wasted no time in searching for his first UI role – and sure enough, he landed a job within one month. Whilst not everyone can expect to find a job so quickly (we promise to help our students find work within six months of graduating), Francis credits his rapid success to the CareerFoundry team.

“After finishing the course, the next step was to start applying for new jobs. Polishing the portfolio is the last task of the course, so it was ready to be presented to recruiters. Thanks to the CareerFoundry community, I got a job in about one month – especially thanks to Danielle Sander, who helped me a lot in the process, giving me extra advice.”

On the whole, Francis’ journey into the world of UI went very smoothly. However, he also touches upon a very common issue associated with changing careers: the fear of failure, otherwise known as impostor syndrome. Fortunately, being thoroughly prepared for his new career enabled him to overcome this – and that’s where a mentored online course can really make a difference. Not only did Francis learn the necessary practical skills; he also benefited from extensive job prep, help with his portfolio and guidance from those who are already in the industry. Here’s how he describes his UI design debut:

“It felt great. I got all the knowledge I needed to start working as a UI designer from the course – concepts, software management, etc. I want to be honest: when we start in a new field, we all get scared of failure. This is called imposter syndrome, and it’s natural. I actually felt that, but due to my preparation, I was able to succeed.”

Aside from this initial – and totally normal – fear of failure, we were curious to find out how Francis feels about his career change. We asked him to name the top three aspects of his new job, and he had plenty to say!

“The first and the most important one is that I love what I do. If you love what you do then you will feel satisfied, and it will be weird to start a new day with an assignment to create a new product without feeling happy. The second one is that it’s not about you, it’s about the users, so I like to dig around with user research, learn about them in every sense, and build for them. And the third one: you never stop learning. Day by day, new and interesting things appear, so there is a need to keep learning and reading. This career is not boring!”

Although Francis had the advantage of coming from a graphic design background, he strongly believes that anyone can change their career. In his experience, making the decision to take the leap is half the battle. After that, it’s a case of learning as much as you can.

“If you are considering a career change, you have already won 50% of the game. The next step is to go ahead and actually make the decision, and the final one is to learn, learn and learn as much as you can about the new field. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience in the design arena; with a good education and a great mentor, it’s easy to change your career without losing your mind!”

Alongside his role as UI designer at Flying Saucer, Francis is also a tutor on the CareerFoundry UI Design Program, helping other would-be designers to follow in his footsteps and achieve their career goals. This is a path he’s happy to continue on: in five years’ time, he sees himself becoming a CareerFoundry mentor and also running his own UI/UX company, delivering stunning products that users truly enjoy using.

Francis might have had some relevant experience to propel his UX/UI design career, but that’s not always the case for CareerFoundry students. Check out this success story from Corey, who became a lead design instructor without a degree.

What You Should Do Now

If you’d like a step-by-step intro to find out if a career in development, data, digital marketing, or design is right for you, sign up here for a free short course in the field of your choice.

If you want to find out more about how you can get a new career in tech, speak to an expert program advisor for free—connect with us here!

by Emily Stevens on 12 March 2018

About the author

Emily Stevens

Emily is a professional tech writer and content strategist. She spent over a decade in tech startups, immersed in the world of UX and design thinking. In addition to writing for The CareerFoundry Blog, Emily has been a regular contributor to several industry-leading design publications and wrote a chapter for The UX Careers Handbook. She also has an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster.