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Tutorial 1: An Introduction to User Experience Design

Tutorial 1: An Introduction to User Experience Design

Tutorial Image

Hello and welcome to your free UX Design for Beginners Course! You’ve taken the first step to exploring your new career path and we’re glad to be here for it.

This course is designed to give you a solid introduction to UX design—what it is, why it matters, and the basics of how to do it. You’ll also get a good look at how (and why!) to kickstart a career in UX design. And the best part? You’ll get a taste of what it’s like to actually be a UX designer with the hands-on exercises we’ve included along the way.

Each tutorial should only take around 30 minutes to complete, depending on how deep you go into the exercises and additional resources linked throughout. We recommend completing one UX design tutorial per day, and at least one hands-on exercise (some tutorials give you more than one option). We’ll send you daily emails to help keep you on track for that goal, but feel free to work at your own pace and complete the course in more or less time!

But before we get there, let’s make sure you’re set up for success from the start. This first UX design tutorial lays the foundation for the rest of the course. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll:

  • Understand the demand and career outlook for UX designers
  • Know what UX design is, and the basics of the Design Thinking process
  • Get an overview of the course content and structure

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Start with the basics: What is UX design and what does a UX designer actually do?
  2. Outlook and Career paths for UX designers
  3. The Design Thinking process
  4. Course overview (what’s coming next)
  5. What to do now

1. Start with the basics: What is UX design and what does a UX designer actually do?

User experience (UX) design is the process of designing effective, efficient, highly usable, inclusive, and even delightful experiences for human beings. In the context of the field of UX design, this typically relates to digital product experiences—meaning mobile apps and websites.

To put it even more simply, UX design is the process of designing great digital product experiences that work well for the people who use those products.

So what do UX designers actually do? UX designers are empathetic critical thinkers and creative problem solvers who:

  • Take the time to understand what people actually need in a digital product experience
  • Identify problems and pain points in the user experience
  • Design to meet users’ needs and solve problems and pain points
  • Design in ways that also meet business needs and constraints
  • Test and iterate on their designs to ensure that the experience continuously evolves to meet users’ needs (even as those needs change!)

In short (because you’ll learn more throughout the course), this means that UX designers spend their time:

  • Conducting user research
  • Synthesizing their research and extracting actionable insights
  • Meeting with stakeholders to understand their priorities and any constraints that affect the project (budget, deadlines, etc.)
  • Leading workshops and creating key deliverables (journey maps, personas, etc.) that help communicate insights and cultivate empathy across their team and the company as a whole
  • Distilling user research and business needs into their work as they use any variety of design tools to build wireframes and prototypes
  • Test their prototypes to ensure that their design solutions actually work well
  • Hand their designs over to UI designers and developers to polish it all up and turn it into an actual live product that people can use

As you can see, a UX designer’s skillset is broad and varied! To get a fuller picture of the skills you’ll cultivate as you build your UX design career, read about the key skills you’ll need to be an amazing UX designer. And to learn more about what it’s like to be a UX designer, check out our complete guide: What Does a UX Designer Actually Do?

2. Outlook and career paths for UX designers

As you consider starting a career in UX design, you’re likely wondering if UX designers are really in demand and where your career path might take you. So before we dive into the design process, let’s consider the industry outlook and some of the specializations that could make you really stand out to potential employers or clients.

If you’re looking to start a career in a field with high growth, high pay, and satisfying daily work, UX design could be a great fit for you. Because UX designers are an integral part of the digital product development process—and because they have such a broad skillset—the need for good UX is everywhere.

And because UX designers are advocates for human needs, and work at the intersection of design and business goals, the work is often varied and fulfilling. In fact, HR Forecast lists UX/UI design in its 2023 list of top tech skills to master, and CNN Money predicts that the demand for UX designers will grow by 19% between 2017-2027. To learn more about the demand for UX designers, read our complete guide: Are UX Designers in Demand?

🪄 Not only is the UX design field growing; it’s also constantly evolving. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), a whole new world of opportunity is opening up for UX designers. From large-scale data analysis to generative design, from simulation-based product testing to advanced personalization—the opportunities AI brings to the tech industry are vast 😲

In tomorrow’s tutorial we’ll explore more about how AI tools can complement your work as a UX designer, but in the meantime, we recommend reading this article to learn more how AI will impact the UX design industry.

How much do UX designers earn?

UX designer salaries can vary quite a bit depending on where you live, the company you work for, your seniority and experience level, and any specialized skills you’ve developed. But on the whole, the salaries are competitive—with room for growth!

Here are the salary ranges for UX designers in several countries to give you an idea of what salary you might earn:

United States

Low: US$69,600

High: US$114,300


Low: CA$50,000

High: CA$101,800


Low: AU$59,500

High: AU$115,600


Low: €34,500

High: €70,000


Low: ¥126,000

High: ¥297,000

United Kingdom

Low: £30,600

High: £65,700

For more information on current UX designer salaries, check out our complete salary guide: What Salary Will I Earn as a UX Designer?

UX career paths

As we mentioned before, part of what factors into your salary is the specialized knowledge and skills you bring with you. It’s important to start with a strong foundation in UX—which is what the best UX design training programs will give you. But once you have that, you’ll be ready to explore new directions with specialized skills.

There’s been such an increased demand for some of these specialized skills that they’ve grown into UX roles in their own right. Here are some of the top UX career paths you might take:

UX/UI design

Where UX design focuses on usability and functionality for the people who use digital products, UI (user interface) design focuses on the aesthetics of the experience—which is not to say that UI isn’t every bit as important as UX! In fact, both aspects are so important to product design that UX designers who have a strong UI design skillset increase their earning potential and stand out to employers. And the average UX/UI designer salary? In the US, it’s around $91,950.

💡 To learn more about the differences between UX and UI design, check out this guide: The Difference Between UX and UI Design: A Beginner’s Guide.

UX research

You’ll learn a little more about UX research later in this course, but in a nutshell, it’s all about connecting with the people who use digital products to find out what design problems actually need to be solved. If you find you really enjoy this part of the process, you might be a great UX researcher! And UX designers who specialize in UX research make an average of $108,500 in the US.

💡 Want to learn more about UX research? Check out this video from CareerFoundry graduate Tanya Lerma, sharing her career change story and discussing her job as UX researcher at Peloton!

UX strategy

If you have a knack for business, you might want to consider specializing in UX strategy. UX strategists work at the intersection of user-centered design and business strategy, applying UX design principles to broader business strategies to ensure that key business decisions align with what users actually want and need. The average salary for UX strategists in the US is around $92,000!

💡 Recommended reading: What Does a UX Strategist Actually Do?

UX writing

Finally, if you have a way with words and find that you’re passionate about the words that live within user experiences, you’ll want to explore UX writing as a specialization. UX writers create the conversation that drives the user experience forward, applying UX design principles to the microcopy that users interact with. In the US, the average UX writer salary is around $110,000.

💡 Get stuck in and check out this workshop to learn more: An Introduction to UX Writing

Whew! Well, now you’ve got the lay of the land. It might feel a little overwhelming here at the start, but there’s no need to decide what kind of specialized knowledge and skills you want to develop right now. That can come later. The most important skills to develop are the foundational UX design skills. And that all starts with the Design Thinking process, which is what the rest of this course will focus on.

3. The Design Thinking process

So what is the Design Thinking process and how does it work? Design Thinking is both an ideology and a process that places people at the center of product design and seeks to solve complex problems in user-centric ways. Placed more specifically in the context of UX, Design Thinking is the approach UX designers take to find and test creative solutions to practical problems.

As a UX designer, your goals in taking this approach are to:

  • Keep your focus as human-centric as possible
  • Understand which problems actually need to be solved
  • Look at those problems in new ways, embracing some ambiguity as you go along (the answers won’t always be clear!)
  • Design and re-design to meet user needs
  • Make your designs as tangible as possible before they’re implemented to see (and test) how they’ll actually work for users

With all this in mind, we’re ready to explore the five stages of the Design Thinking process. Bear in mind that for now, this will be a simplified overview—we’ll dig deeper into each stage in subsequent tutorials (and give you hands-on exercises to try it out for yourself). And feel free to check out the excerpt from one of our free live events below, in which one of our CareerFoundry mentors walks you through the Design Thinking process.

The five stages of the Design Thinking process


In the first stage of the process, the UX designer connects with product users (or potential users) to understand their needs and goals, and to get a sense of what problems or pain points could use some design thinking magic to solve. Much of this stage consists of UX research—user interviews and surveys, as well as other forms of research to help generate user-centered data.


The second stage of the process is all about organizing the research results, sorting through the data, and looking at it from various perspectives. The goal is to identify patterns and actionable insights that will help the UX designer to formulate solutions. This is where things like affinity diagrams, user personas, and journey maps come into play—among other key deliverables. The goal of this stage is to clearly define which problem(s) to focus on for the time being.


The ideation stage is where UX designers come up with as many ideas as they can for how to solve the problem they’ve defined. There are any number of ideation methods they might use to accomplish this (and we’ll explore some of those in Tutorial 3), but the goal is to ideate without too many constraints or filters—no idea is a bad idea. Later in this stage, the UX designer can work with others in their team or company to figure out which idea works best for the user and best meets business goals.


In the fourth stage of the process, the UX designer turns the top idea(s) into reality—to a certain extent. The goal of this stage is to create a working model (known as a prototype) of the idea to see how it will operate, and to work out any major issues in the design before moving forward.


Finally, the UX designer tests the prototype with actual users to understand whether or not the solution meets users’ needs the way they expected, to find out if there are aspects of the problem that they’ve overlooked, and to see if the solution itself creates any new issues to be resolved.

But this isn’t where the process ends. In its truest form, the Design Thinking process is recursive and iterative—meaning that it repeats over and over again, and that the stages won’t always be followed in this particular order.

For example, let’s say you’re working on a meditation app. 🧘 You’ve already done user research (empathize), defined the problems that you’ll solve, came up with some great ideas, and prototyped them. But in the testing stage, you realized that the solutions you’ve come up with don’t quite solve users’ pain points the way you thought they would—or maybe the solutions have caused other goals or pain points to surface.

Technically, you’ve completed the design thinking process, but you’re not likely to check it off and consider the product “done”. Instead, you’ll probably go back and do a little more research and ideation to fine tune your ideas 🔧

Each stage is there for UX designers to return to as needed, and as they see how their designs work for their users!

4. Course overview (what’s coming next)

The rest of this course will be structured to follow the Design Thinking process. In each tutorial you’ll tackle one or two stages, taking a project through to completion. If that sounds like just a ton of work, don’t worry! We’ve built the course so that you can complete simple hands-on exercises, then have opportunities to complete bigger (optional) projects as you go along—depending on your interests and the time you’re able to devote to the course.

Here’s how the rest of the course will be structured:

Tutorial 2: How to develop empathy and define UX problems. In this tutorial, you’ll look at some user research, and based on that data, create a problem statement that will set the stage for the rest of the process. You’ll also get an introduction to some AI tools that can help you as a designer.

Tutorial 3: Intro to UX ideation techniques. This tutorial will introduce you to a few ideation methods and take you step by step through an ideation session of your own. You’ll also learn how AI tools like ChatGPT can support you in the process.

Tutorial 4: Intro to prototyping in UX. In this tutorial, you’ll turn your idea into a simple hand-sketched prototype. Don’t worry—most UX designers aren’t fancy artists, so nothing here needs to be perfect! We’ll suggest a few ways AI technology could help you here too!

Tutorial 5: How to conduct user testing. This tutorial will guide you through one of two ways that you can test your prototype (you’ll get to choose which method works best for you).

Tutorial 6: Next steps and how to become a UX designer. In this tutorial, you’ll review your work in the larger context of the design process and learn more about what it takes to become a UX designer. You’ll also have an optional final test to check your knowledge.

5. What to do now

Congratulations on completing your first UX Design for Beginners tutorial! 👏

Since this was your intro tutorial, without a hands-on exercise to dig into, we’d recommend going back through and checking out some of the guides and other resources we’ve linked throughout. This will build your UX knowledge and make you much more confident as you go into Tutorial 2 and start your very own Design Thinking project.

See you in the next tutorial!


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Intrigued by a career in UX design? Arrange a call with your program advisor today to find out if UX design is a good fit for you—and how you can become a certified UX designer from scratch with the full CareerFoundry UX Design Program.