Get answers to common questions
Before we start, let’s lay down some common understanding about UX and get some of the most commonly asked questions out of the way.
Do I need to go to a university, bootcamp, or other formal education?
The short answer is no - it’s not a requirement. Education by itself is useful, but it’s not a replacement for real-life experience.
Because designers are practitioners, actual work experience is the most important proof for a designer to have - even more than educational background.
That’s why designers are known to come from a variety of backgrounds, degrees, and work experiences - some as unrelated as accounting! Many successful designers have often forgone traditional routes of formal education, and proven themselves through getting the right experience. However, there is a certain level of technical skill required to become a proficient designer. By “technical skill”, we don’t mean programming. We mean specific hard design skills such as choosing typography, spacing, and color, and using design software such as Sketch, Figma, or Principle.
We'll cover what you need to know at a minimum in these hard design skills later in this quick start guide. The great news is that there are a ton of online resources out there that can help you get a better grasp at the basics - as long as you know what to look for.
What type of design job is best for me?
There are many design job titles available in the UX industry, and they can often overlap or be used interchangeably. Sometimes companies will say they want a certain type of designer, but they mean another. As a result, you will want to focus on job descriptions over job titles to pick the right opportunities. Here's a collection of common types of UX designers:
- UX Designer
- UI Designer
- Interaction Designer
- Product Designer
- UX Engineer / Front-End Developer
- Visual Designer
- Motion Designer
If you don't know what kind of design you want to be, don't worry! When you're first starting out, you don't really need to specialize. It's more important that you get your foot in the door first and gain some exposure to real design problems. As you experience different types of problems, you will start to get a sense for what specialty appeals more to you.
This guide will cover material that’s relevant to most types of UX designer roles, so you can increase your chances of breaking into the industry.
Do I need to have connections in the industry?
It always helps to have a network - but it isn’t necessary, and it’s far from a guarantee that you’ll get hired. At the end of the day, you need to have the design skills, right mindset, and the proof of your proficiency to make the cut. No amount of referrals can make up for the lack of those skills, so make sure your primary focus is on your abilities and not your connections. Once you have the necessary skills and proof, getting connections can definitely help your chances.
Do I need to learn how to code?
No, this isn’t a requirement. Most designers will not do any coding in their day-to-day work, but they will often have to communicate their designs to developers. In that way, it is very helpful for a designer to understand some basics of code.
HTML, CSS, and the box model are probably the most important for a designer to understand. It’s also extremely helpful to know the difference between “back-end” and “front-end” programming.
|✅ Is formal education necessary?
|✅ Do I need connections?
|✅ Do I need to learn how to code?