These days, everything has become about the experience that is being offered to the customer. It is one of the most important things for each and everything – products and services of every imaginable kind. And it is never really too late or too early to jump into the bandwagon of creating user experiences by becoming a happening UX professional.
First you need to know if UX is the thing for you. Why do you want to be a UX professional? What is about UX that draws you towards it? Take some self assessments, numerous self assessments are available for free online, that will help you gauge if you are making the right choice. You definitely don’t want to come more than half way through and realize you made a mistake, it would be a such a waste of time and effort. UX professionals could cover a lot of ground – information architecture, interaction design, industrial design, service design, information design, visual design, branding, technical communication, content management, usability engineering, human factors, design research, etc. you would also require to get some grip on sketching, storytelling, critiquing, presenting and facilitating.
There are many types of designers but not all of them are UX/UI designers. The first thing you can do to become a UX professional is to use the internet and read as much as you can about UX/UI design. Use your free time, say the time when you commute, or time after work when you are just relaxing or in the morning read those articles and update yourself with what’s going on in the world of UX.
UX professionals principally use Sketch and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. You can either enlist yourself for a course to learn these tools and get a certification or you can learn them for free using the umpteen resources available online. These tools are no rocket science. They are quite easy and user friendly. Once you start getting a hang of the basics, it is even easier to pick up the more complex operations that these tools can perform. And if you get stuck somewhere you can always get help online too.
Read for more information: How to Become a Web Designer
As a UX professional, you would need to ask for feedback – not only from everyone you work with, but also from other people; and then thrive on this feedback. A UX professional is building an experience for the customers and so, it is important that he understands what the customer is feeling and experiencing with his creations. Once you get some feedback, work on it, take it positively and constantly improve. Moreover, your experiences as a person will often influence your work as a UX professional which is really a very good thing so far as it doesn’t become a hindrance.
There are no high levels degrees or experiences required to become a UX professional but it is essential that a UX professional be able to walk the talk and have the ability to do things and get things done on time. Most things can be learnt by reading and understanding and practice, but just stay put and keep working towards it.
Being a UX professional is a lot different from being any other professional. A lot of UX professionals today are graphic designers or software developers or maybe even people from the field of marketing and branding or maybe a web designer perhaps. You should be ready for the uncertainty and the highly dynamic and subjective nature of the UX world. Your customers are human minds here, and nobody has ever fully been able to decipher the human mind, so it can get a little unpredictable at times. But that it where the challenge and the thrill of being a UX professional lies and that’s the best part of it. The breadth of the design challenges that get thrown at you with the length of activities you have to engage in as a UX professional is breathtakingly mind-blowing and would actually be a big turn on for a lot of people.
A UX professional has to research a lot, a really, really lot. This research would not be limited to the start of the project only but would continue all through the duration of the project and also after the project has been completed. You would have to learn about the client – what it does, what it sells, what it wants to sell, what it stands for, what the market and the customers believe about the client, how their products and services are perceived, etc. You will have to understand in-depth about the product and services as well. You would have to learn about the industry the client works in, the rules and norms of the industry, what clicks and what doesn’t click with the customers here. You would also have to learn about what works and what wouldn’t work for the customers of the industry in general and the product or service in particular. Your sources could be competition websites, newspapers, scientific research, surveys, etc.
Once you have become adept at all the skills required to become a good UX professional, you can decide whether you want to work in-house as an employee of a company that sells a product or a service, or you can be working on the agency side as part of a professional consulting firm who cater to clients who sell products or services, you can work as a freelancer or on contractual basis from project to project. Or you can choose to work as an independent consultant or you can develop and build an agency or business of your own. Each option will have a nature very different from the other and you need to weigh your options and decide what goes best with your working pattern.
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