UI/UX designers don’t always have to attend a boot camp program or acquire formal training; many of the best are self-taught. So, what are the steps to designing beautiful digital products yourself?
While there is no single right or wrong way to learn UI/UX design, there are several paths. The key to good design is learning the principles and practicing them until you master them.
As a self-taught UX/UI designer in 2021, we’ll walk you through the following 6 steps:
Step 1: Learn the fundamentals of UX designer
Step 2: Develop an eye for good design
Step 3: Invest in the right design software
Step 4: Start building a portfolio of work
Step 5: Ask for feedback (and learn from it)
Step 6: Get real-world work experience:
1. Learn the fundamentals of UX design
Understanding the fundamental principles of UX design is crucial if you want to create a successful website that meets the needs of people.
UX design aims to create a satisfying user experience by meeting the needs and wants of users and by determining user psychology.
Creating a digital product that meets user needs as well as business goals requires understanding why users perform certain actions and why they continue to use a website (or abandon that site).
The good news is there are lots of affordable (and free) UX tutorials, courses, and resources available to you as well as tons of books on UX. Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug is a good place to start. He is often referred to as the founder of user experience design.
“Watching tutorials is a smart addition to your learning process. Just remember it’s not all about learning colour theories, or UI patterns—tutorials on how to train your mind to think like a UX designer and understanding user’s needs are also key.”
2. Develop your eye for good UI/UX design
As a self-taught UX/UI designer in 2021, design is more than just learning the basics. Examine the designs of mobile apps and websites you love critically and you will take your skills to the next level.
Take a few minutes to analyze a website you love the next time you see it, for example. Does it have a certain color palette? Do you like its interaction design? What about typography?
Be sure to consider every aspect of the design: the spacing between elements, the grid the site is built on, the visual hierarchy, and even the specific images and icons used. Consider the strengths and weaknesses. Develop an eye for design by considering the strengths and weaknesses.
A site’s shortcomings are just as important as its strengths. Take a critical view of the site. Understand why you dislike certain parts of the site, as opposed to just stating that you don’t like them.
3. Invest in the right design tools
UI/UX software is the next step you’ll need to invest in to start bringing your designs to life and beginning to apply what you’ve learned so far.
To give yourself a feel for which tool is best for you, we suggest you try out a few industry stalwarts, such as Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD.
The following is an overview of what each software offers:
Figma is a collaborative and prototyping tool for digital projects. This is the newest software program for designing UI/UX interfaces, and has quickly gained popularity among designers.
Sketch is a macOS app for digital design. The intuitive interface and plugin capabilities of Sketch make it a favorite of designers.
Adobe XD: Adobe XD was created specifically for designers. In addition to being free, Adobe XD also makes prototyping and designing easy.
UI/UX designers cannot rely on one specific tool. Choose the software that feels most intuitive and user-friendly to you.
4. Start building a self-taught UX/UI designer portfolio of work
Even watching design tutorials or reading books won’t get you far. To become a proficient self-taught UX/UI designer in 2021, you need to design digital products and start building a portfolio that showcases your work.
It might be a question on your mind now – how can I build a portfolio of work without any real-world experience?
UI kits (or user interface kits) are a great way to get your ideas off the ground if you’re starting from scratch. UI kits are designs containing premade visual components for specific UI designs (like buttons, icons, fonts, menus, etc.).
Start by designing your own website or mobile application with these UI kits. Consider also redesigning existing sites. Look for ways to improve the look and functionality of some of your favorite websites.
Next, learn how to construct a mock-up for your designs, and consider posting them online to receive feedback for improvement.
A great tool to start using is Bonsai if you need help managing such projects. Organizing and managing all your tasks with a portfolio-building tool like Bonsai is going to be a breeze, since it helps you build your portfolio from scratch.
5. Ask for feedback (and learn from it)
Negative feedback, contrary to popular belief, can be of more value than positive feedback. By using Sketch, you can develop your skills as a designer, create better products, and advance your career.
You can use negative feedback to improve your design if you learn to seek and accept it. Dribbble is a great place to share work and to get criticism – the community is happy to help.
The most positive thing you can take from negative feedback in your design career is the chance to learn from it. Just remember that you cannot overhaul your entire abilities in one day. Every day striving to improve one percent will bring steady progress toward success.
6. Get real-world work experience as a self-taught UX/UI designer
Getting some real-world work experience is the next step in your career development once you have developed enough work that you are proud of and confident of your skills.
As a self-taught UX/UI designer, you should typically create an online portfolio that shows off their best work and their design process in order to get hired.
Creating an effective UX design portfolio involves thinking like a lawyer. It is important to demonstrate your skills and tell stories about the projects you have worked on.” – Sarah Doody, User Experience Coach
Employers are looking for entry-level UI/UX designers. You can practice your soft skills such as communication and explaining the reasoning behind your designs even if you don’t land a job right away, as hiring managers are looking for these traits in candidates seeking design jobs.
Do you want to work as a freelancer? We can then help you in many ways beyond project management. Using one easy-to-use platform, you will be able to manage your whole business, from proposals to contracts to invoices to taxes.
You will need to iterate if you’re building your design portfolio. The more you practice and improve your skills, the better your design will be. Create new work and update your portfolio daily.
Continue to learn and improve your UX/UI skills as a self-taught UX/UI designer
If you’re willing to put in the time, effort, and dedication, you’ll be able to learn UI/UX design regardless of your skill level.
Continue to learn and grow your skills, and remember nothing happens overnight. You can do it!
Stich Creative, UX/UI Designers