How to Get Into UI/UX Design in 2024

It’s the year 2024, how can you still get started in UI/UX design, if it’s not too late already?

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It’s the year 2024, how can you still get started in UI/UX design, if it’s not too late already? First of all, let’s put your mind at ease, it’s never too late to do anything in life, as long as you are still living and breathing with motivation, plan of action and ability to execute. Let’s take a look at the most practical steps to get started in UI/UX design gathered from our decades of industry experience and design education expertise.

Table of Contents

Learn Strong Design Foundation and Build Outstanding Portfolio

First of all, there’s no skipping education. Without a solid foundation in design principles, you will find yourself struggling to create products that are shippable. However, not every design course is created equal. There are a lot of resources out there – both free and paid. The most important thing to find out is if the course you choose to attend will teach you comprehensive design foundational knowledge. There are a lot of courses out there that promise students life-changing results in 3 months. The truth is – there is no way that someone with 0 design background can master all the crafts necessary to begin a successful career in this field in such a short amount of time. Be careful with programs that make big promises. This may be possible with driver’s ed or other more straightforward on-the-job trainings, but unfortunately, not for design.

Also be careful of courses that teach only UX design methodologies with few or no visual design components. The reason is UX design has never exited alone as a discipline – it’s a hybrid career that requires designers to have multiple skillsets. Without a solid visual design foundation, the products you design may be useful, but not shippable to consumers and your skillsets will be less valuable to companies that are looking for a one-stop solution that other designers with both skills can provide.

Make sure you attend a program that offers a rigorous portfolio building component – it’s not something you should have to do alone after the program nor is it something that can be squeezed in quickly in the last week of the program.

Your portfolio building process also needs to involve a deep dive of personal branding and personalized career strategy coaching. Without a distinctive visual look and voice as presented in your portfolio website, you will be brushed to the “pass” pile during portfolio review so fast that you have just wasted months of your time designing, building and applying.

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Find Your Niche Rather Than Mass Applying

That leads us to the next order of business – before you start applying to jobs after completing your design course, you need to first find your niche. The reason is if you mass apply for jobs like most other applicants, chances are you won’t get noticed as much as you otherwise would if you had niched down. There are many qualified candidates in the job market and most of the time, it’s one of the following types of candidates who will get the most attention. First, candidates with big named companies on your resume and years of experience will often get the most amount of calls to interviews. Second, candidates with internal referrals will always get interviewed first than outside applicants. And finally, candidates with exceptionally outstanding portfolio will also get the most attention.

Imagine if you don’t have years of experience at big-named companies, no internal referrals and although your portfolio is good, it’s not the most exceptional. Do you not deserve a job? You sure do, but that’s where niching down is going to really help you find the best fit.

For example, let’s say you have previous experience in physical therapy and now you are becoming a designer. Rather than shooting for companies in the entertainment industry, you could reach out to healthcare startups that really value your previous experience in the field. Another example would be let’s say you find yourself really liking interactive animation design. You could amplify your skillset in this niche and impress with your exceptional creativity by incorporating beautiful animation design to all of your product design mockups.

However, niching down doesn’t mean that you are supposed to be a specialist from Day One. The right approach is to become skilled in most relevant areas of design but have one outstanding skillset that sets you apart from the vast majority of candidates.

Another aspect of niching down is actually getting guidance on finding companies that are looking for your type of candidate specifically. Instead of applying to Google and competing with thousands of other highly qualified candidates, focus your energy on speaking to regional startups in your area of interests that are looking for candidates who have strong skillsets but are also able to learn new skills fast.

Develop Sharp Product Thinking Skills and Have An Opinion

As a UI/UX designer, you are responsible for the creating solutions for business problems in the form of digital products. That means one of your most valuable skillsets is having sharp business acumen and be in tuned with what users really want and need. Additionally, you will also make a great impression if you can provide your thoughts on the latest product development trends.

That’s why it’s important to start actively thinking about product design from the early stage of your design learning journey. In addition to learning design foundations, keep yourself abreast of the latest development in digital products. Ask yourself what you think of the design of products you come across and how you would improve on them if given the chance. This will come in handy when you start the interview process.

Cultivate Your Interview and Interpersonal Skills

Once you are called to interview, another determining factor if you will eventually land the job has little to do with your design skills. This could be a good or bad thing depending on who you are. It’s a welcome chance to shine for people who are more on the extroverted side and a natural at speaking to different people. But understandably, this could be an anxiety-inducing event for people who are introverted. The good news is – with proper coaching, anyone can learn to interview well. This doesn’t mean you need to fit into a mold and say what companies want to hear even if that’s not true to yourself. It means you will need to learn to communicate your strengths in an engaging and persuasive way that convinces companies to give you a chance. You will also need to learn to tell a good story about who you really are as a person and prospective employee so that your future company can get a sense if you are the right fit for the team.

Network with Content Creation that Amplifies Your Personal Brand

The final touch to landing your dream UI/UX design job is to network intentionally and authentically. It may sound cliche but networking is definitely one of the best ways to get a foot in the door of any industry. However, it’s more effective if you approach it in an authentic and sustainable way rather than cold emailing thousands of people who have never met you before and ask for a job or recommendation.

The reason is very simple – people need to learn more about who you are, what your voice is in this industry and what you are good at before they even want to consider helping you out. It’s as simple as putting yourself out there showing your authentic self and attracting people who resonates with who you are and what your passion is.

Instead of cold emailing, try other things that are more organic. For example, you can frequent industry events and conferences as an attendee and talk to other participants without any agenda to get referrals immediately. You can also start creating content like videos and articles online to show that you are passionate about design and have thoughtful opinions about products in this industry.

Networking is a long game – not a marathon. If you start from the early stages of your design learning journey, by the time you are ready to look for jobs, you will find that you may have already established a few industry contacts who you keep in touch with on a semi regular basis. Then inquiring about referrals will come across way more natural.

Now, does it sound like it’s still possible to become a UI/UX designer in 2024? We hope our tips help you build the confidence to finally give yourself a chance this year.

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