My journey to becoming a UI/UX designer started with anxiety and stress unlike any I had ever felt before. It all started one year ago. I was disappointed with my previous employer, which had initially overestimated the need for a second designer. My position was no longer viable and there was no other choice than to let me go. At that moment, I was motivated by the idea of becoming a self-employed graphic designer, which, to my surprise, worked out for several weeks. As fun as it was to wake up and work from home, it was also quite stressful. I became very anxious and couldn’t handle self-employment anymore. It was then that, as if reading my mind, the HR representative from my current employer, LeadFox, contacted me via LinkedIn for a job offer: UI/UX designer.
Having completed my studies in graphic design in 2017, UI/UX had always fascinated me. For me, it was the perfect combination of applying concrete, straight-forward, and data-driven logic AND relying on creative thinking to solve complex design problems and analyze user-driven emotional response. But I wondered…would I be enough for the job? Did I even want to give up on being self-employed?
Fake it, Educate yourself, ‘til you make it
Not long after, they welcomed me to the team…An inexperienced designer who was relatively new to the professional job market.
Luckily, LeadFox provided me with UI/UX courses that, at that time, met my needs. However, my boss sent me a link about 8 months ago: interaction-design.org. I didn’t know what it was and didn’t get it at first. But then it hit me. It was a totally new way of learning for me. They had so many UX design courses, with learning paths to help lead the way progressively through the curriculum.
So I started my first course: Become a UX Designer from Scratch (version 1). Then a second one, and a third, etc…Over time, I’ve acquired many different certifications that I can display on my LinkedIn profile. Here they are:
- Certification 1
- Certification 2
- Certification 3
- Certification 4
- Certification 5
- Certification 6
- Certification 7
Moreover, IDF has built gamification into their UX, which motivates me to interact with other designers on the platform, share my progress with colleagues and bosses, but more importantly keeps me working hard to complete more courses and expand my professional knowledge.
4 Tips for a Better Learning Experience
These certificates were not easy to obtain I needed to apply these few tips on how to successfully complete these courses:
- One lesson per week MAXIMUM.
In order to progress smoothly, you need to let your newly acquired knowledge really sink in. Therefore, doing too many lessons in one week can flood your brain with too many new things. One lesson per week has been my go-to for the past few months, and it’s working great.
- Apply what you learn to your designs ASAP
As a junior designer, I need to put what I learn into context as soon as possible in order to absorb it. I have the privilege of working directly with our product owner, which can have an effect on what we decide to tackle during our sprints. I can then apply what I’ve learned to my work relatively quickly, which, for me, further facilitates learning in significant ways.
- It’s ok to fail…sometimes
I have failed a few courses. I really have! It can be hard to see that you have failed, but it is much more insightful to fail than to get a passing grade and forget. To me, failure leads to curiosity, which leads to me pushing further to understand certain concepts on a deeper level. For example, I had quite a hard time with design patterns and their applications in a product/website. I still need to complete this course since it is a hard one for me, and I know that I can benefit from this information.
- Friendly competition can lead to motivation
IDF has a feature that lets you compare your progress on a given course with other designers from your country, continent and even the world! Nothing makes you feel better than seeing your name up there with other top designers! Of course you won’t be up there all the time, don’t beat yourself up! Just keep on learning and doing your best!
Roadblock: Quantify UX Efforts
I do 1-3 hours of coursework every week, in addition to working on LeadFox 2.0, a new version of our marketing automation tool. I can learn and apply my knowledge simultaneously, which results in a product I could never have created on my own.
One of the many plus sides of product design is that it is a continuous process with iterations upon iterations that depend on data and user feedback. The product I design used to look like this:
And now it looks like this:
These changes have had a wonderful impact on the pride our team members have for our product. They have also had quite a significant impact on sales, which speaks volumes about investing in UX! Talk about return on investment!
I can also share what I learn with the marketing team. LeadFox makes landing pages, popups, emails and more. I have to use these tools to attract customers who need these same tools to accomplish their goals (SMB owners, marketing managers, etc.). One of the advantages of our app is that we can monitor the results of these landing pages and other tools. I can make them better by analyzing conversion rates, and I have a hands-on understanding of the difference between good design that works and bad design that merely looks good. This helps me quantify and justify my UX work with data and results. This solves one of the main problems with UX: proof of concept via quantification.
One of the main challenges I encounter is considering all aspects of app development when that app is used to create marketing content. In terms of UX, I have to think about how to make our app not only friendly for our users, but also for our users’ potential customers. Therefore, if LeadFox’s UX is good, our users can create better landing pages, emails, pop-ups, etc., that convert better, faster and more efficiently.
You never know everything
The Interaction Design Foundation has helped me acquire the knowledge I needed in order to grow as a product designer, UI designer, and UX designer in a way I could never have otherwise done. My professional growth has been positively impacted by it and will continue to be. I am currently taking the “UI Design Patterns for Successful Software” course. As hard as some of these courses may get, they contribute to my success as a designer in many ways, and substantially at that. They not only provide me with new, fresh and up-to-date courses, but they also help break up the monotony of work sprints with an hour of time that I dedicate to learning.
In one year, I have grown a lot as a designer. My journey to becoming a UI/UX designer is a life-long one, but I would not want to do it all by myself. Tools like interaction-design.org have helped me grow, and it will be a tool that I keep in my toolbox for a long, long time.
You can always reach out for a quick chat or to share your stories! You can find me on LinkedIn here. If you want to see what I do, you can have a look at my freelance portfolio here, and/or sign up for a 14-day free trial of LeadFox here.