UI/UX Design Skills You Need to Switch Careers Now — With No Experience or Degree

Jobs in UI and UX design are currently in demand, and they make up a fast-growing sector of the labor market. If you’ve ever wondered if UI/UX design is right for you, you’ll want to take time to research and understand the field to get a sense of what skills the jobs in this field require — and if a career move might be something you’re interested in. These jobs are particularly exciting for anyone interested in design, psychology, computer science, or where the three intersect. Many UI/UX design jobs allow for a great amount of creativity, teamwork, and professional growth.

But what is UI/UX design, anyway? In this article, we will define the field and discuss some of these jobs, as well as the skills they require and how to upskill in order to be a strong candidate.

What Kind of Professional Background Do You Have?

There’s no one “right” career path that will lead you to the field of UI/UX design. Designers in this field come from an array of backgrounds — especially given that it is a relatively new career path. If you work in marketing, communications, or even graphic design, you’ll need to upskill in order to pursue a career in this exciting field. However, if that’s not part of your current role, not to worry — maybe you’re just curious about human behavior and how that aligns with UI/UX design. In that case, you can very easily acquire the skills you need for this career — we’ll cover your options in this article, from boot camps to self-directed learning.

Why Should You Learn UI/UX Design?

UI/UX is a fast-growing field that expects continued hiring demand. UI and UX jobs were projected by CNNMoney to grow by 27 percent and 13 percent, respectively, by 2027 — and UX was ranked the 24th best job in America for 2021 by Glassdoor, recording a median base salary of $90,881 (according to data sourced from the outlet’s related job listings).

Such notions are hardly surprising, as UI and UX remain essential to any app, website, or digital product being created or maintained. As the world becomes increasingly digital, design- and interface-related factors have also increased in importance for most companies — whether they’re a local community center or a multinational apparel brand — making it crucial to develop an accessible online presence that customers and users can navigate with ease.

That’s where UI/UX design comes in, as professionals in these fields make the internet and apps we use every day pleasant to use. User interface, or UI, designers determine the graphical layout of an application. That includes the buttons that users click on, the text they read, text entry boxes, animations, and images — essentially everything you see on the screen. In other words, UI designers decide what an app or website looks like, and help develop its visual identity. They decide on colors, shapes, and layouts that will help create a desired cohesive feeling when a user visits the site or application they’re designing. This job is very similar to graphic design, as it is primarily concerned with aesthetics.

UX designers, on the other hand, deal with user experience. While UI designers decide on what an interface looks like, UX designers decide how a user is going to interact with that interface. We’ve all visited a website that made us feel like we had to jump through hoops, or answer elaborate riddles, just to find a simple answer. A UX designer’s job is to avoid that situation at all costs. They work to ensure that navigating an app feels logical, smooth, and easy — in this way, they try to understand a user’s questions and ideas before the user even has them. Another important part of UX design is the creation of wireframes, which are like blueprints for the internet — they provide a clear overview of the page structure, layout, user flow, functionality, and intended behaviors for an app or website. After creating these, they will often get user feedback, and then integrate it into future designs.

While UI and UX designers have distinct jobs, they often work in tandem, and need to cooperate on the shared goal of creating an attractive, seamless product. Take, for instance, the menu button, that little icon in the top corner of a website. While a UI designer will decide on what it looks like (the classic “hamburger” icon, or perhaps the company’s logo), how big it is, and what color it will be, the UX designer will decide on what happens when the user hovers their mouse over it, or clicks on it, and where it takes them. Both jobs share the goal of making this icon clear and easy to both find and use. They want to make sure it is part of an intuitive user experience that includes an attractive user interface.

7 Important UI/UX Design Skills You’ll Need

If you’re interested in pursuing a UI/UX design career, it’s important to understand the skills you’ll need to acquire in order to apply and qualify for jobs in these fields. While UI/UX design often requires a mixture of hard and soft skills, you’ll need to understand both the basics of code and your users’ needs — it’s important for any upskillers to study concepts like wireframing, visual design, and decision mapping before they begin the job search.

The skills we’ve listed below are the most important for UI design and UX design, but they’re not the only skills you’ll need in order to pursue a job in one of these fields. If you take a UI/UX bootcamp, for example, you’ll also learn things like project management, how to think like a user, and the relationship between branding and UI/UX design. You’ll also learn the importance of things like communication, flexibility, and research, which allow designers to communicate with and understand both their user base and coworkers, and shift their work as the project or user feedback changes. If the below skills seem interesting or appealing to you, it might be time for you to consider switching careers to the world of UI and UX — one where a wide variety of backgrounds are embraced.

UX Research

Research is integral to both UI design and UX design, however, it’s an especially important skill for UX designers, who need to gather qualitative and quantitative data about users through research and analysis. Some relevant research strategies include holding user interviews; conducting focus groups; creating and distributing surveys; and observing users, either in their natural environments or in more controlled testing environments. On top of these skills, designers also need to be curious about their users: What do they want? What annoys them? What are they curious about? Designers should be able to think through which users to choose for their research — and how to reach out to them — as well as how to collect and analyze the data they find in their research. Lastly, they must be familiar with usability test methods such as card sorting and heat maps.

Wireframing

A wireframe is like a blueprint for a website — it is a guide that shows the visual elements on each page. Both UI and UX designers use these to communicate their plans: what elements to display on which pages, where to place them, and how to design them in a way that optimizes the user experience.

First, you’ll need to understand how to denote things like images and buttons in a programmatic form. Then, you’ll work on “mockups” once your wireframes are approved, which are sketches, or preliminary models, of the site or app you’re designing; this will happen in apps like InVision — we’ll get to that later — or Marvel.

The last stage of the process includes designing a final mockup that looks just like the final product — and functions just how you want it to. Wireframing, therefore, requires planning, ideation, flexibility, and the technical ability to work with apps like InVision and Marvel. It also requires the ability to incorporate feedback both from users and coworkers to create a design that works for everyone.

Interaction Design

Interaction design is the way that UX and UI designers shape how users will interact with their products. For example, take an online banking portal, like the kind you might use to check your balances and deposit checks. You interact with it by signing in, maybe going through two-factor authentication, and then navigating a homepage or main menu that shows you a wide variety of information and navigation options. The way in which you interact with this website and this process — the buttons you click, the information you enter, the sounds you hear, the way each screen is laid out — is all included in interaction design. As a skill, interaction design requires a certain intuition that allows the designer to understand how a user can achieve all the relevant tasks with minimal effort. You’ll need to think through things like user flows (the paths that a user can take on an app or page) and information access (how easy it is for a user to find what they are looking for).

UX Writing

UX writing is a type of copywriting that is specific to the user experience — this writing is what the user sees as they are navigating through a website or app. As with all aspects of UI design and UX design, UX writing must be integrated into the greater aesthetic and branding message of the entire product. It should work in tandem with things like buttons, graphics, and layout to communicate all the necessary information in a concise, direct, and intuitive manner.

This skill is also helpful within the world of UX/UI design, and it is, therefore, a particularly valuable skill to develop, as it can significantly amplify your ability to create a successful experience for a user through the use of words and phrases.

Coding

UI and UX designers certainly aren’t the people writing code for the apps and pages they work on — that work goes to the developers on the team — but it’s still important for any UI/UX designer to understand the basics of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. These are the building blocks for every website, and understanding how they work together will help you make minor changes as you move along in the design process.

What’s more, according to a study by InVision, 80 percent of managers hiring product design candidates are interested in coding skills. When you’re testing the product you’ve designed and you want to make these minor changes, it’s incredibly helpful to not have to rely on the work of coders for these small tweaks. Coding skills will also help you work better with the developers on your team, as you’ll be able to speak a shared language and understand their own goals and processes.

An image highlighting the statistic stating 80 percent of managers are looking to hire candidates with coding skills.

Design Tools: InVision, Adobe XD, and Figma

As a UI or UX designer, it will be imperative for you to be well-versed in the field’s most popular UX design tools. Here are a few important ones to get to know:

  • InVision is a program made for screen design that allows you to design, prototype, and animate pages for apps and websites, as well as control the ways that these different screens interact with each other.
  • Adobe XD is a powerful tool that allows UI and UX designers to create a wide range of interfaces and prototypes, from websites to smartphone and tablet applications. These designs can include animation and interaction, allowing you to iterate on designs and collaborate with others quickly.
  • Figma is a free online tool used for UI design, UX design, graphic design, and wireframing. It also offers collaboration tools, meaning multiple designers can collaborate on a project in real time, similar to Google Docs. It is quite easy to use and offers a range of tutorials for design basics that help beginners start using the software.

Visual Communication and Visual Design

Visual design and visual communication are essential tenets of UI and UX design. The world of visual design includes designing components like layout, color, typography, icons, and imagery. Good visual designers can create a clickable icon — take the refresh button, for instance — that users immediately understand, even if they haven’t seen it before. Strong visual design minimizes the need for written instruction — it uses icons and images to guide the user through the app or page and help them achieve their objective easily and quickly.

UI/UX Design Roles

Once you have decided to explore UI/UX design, there are a variety of different roles that you can choose from. Many of them have overlapping responsibilities and required skills — like design, project management, wireframing, and research — but each plays a different part in developing a web product and getting it out to users.

A web designer’s job is to build the visual design of a website, and it requires a combination of both technical and non-technical skills. Web designers are in charge of building the visual layout of a website, which means they are more design-focused than web developers, but they still need to understand the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They also have a hand in building the functionality of the website, and they are concerned with user experience: thinking through how a user might want to use this particular product — and then testing the ways that a user interacts with it once they’ve built a prototype. The job often requires determining a product’s information architecture, designing wireframes, conducting user testing, and finalizing the product.

Web designers need to have strong design skills and aesthetic sense, attention to detail, as well as project management and communication skills. Their job is often not just to design a website but to work with a client or manager on a specific project; therefore, communication and flexibility are key.

While many graphic designers don’t work explicitly with UI design or UX design — graphic design was traditionally a job responsible for creating print media — the fields often overlap and work together. Graphic designers who work specifically in the world of UI and UX design have a wide range of job opportunities at their fingertips.

At its heart, graphic design is just about deciding how things look, particularly static images. Everything from a magazine to a box of cereal to a food delivery app has been touched by a graphic designer: they are often the people creating logos, deciding on fonts and colors, and deciding how to lay out and arrange different visual elements to tell a story or communicate an idea or brand identity.

Graphic design, then, is quite similar to UI design and can easily overlap with it. Graphic designers working in UI design get to decide what each visual component that a user interacts with will look like. While graphic design requires a great amount of creativity, it also requires a large amount of communication and project management. Graphic designers must work with a client’s demands and respond to feedback with agility, creating a product that both looks great and meets its proposed goals.

A user experience designer takes the insights that have been gleaned from UX research and applies them to the product in development. This usually begins with developing a plan for the product’s information architecture and then designing wireframes and prototypes, conducting user testing, and finalizing the product. This process often requires a great amount of flexibility and receptiveness to feedback, as things can change at any stage, particularly after user testing is complete. A UX designer is particularly concerned with the user’s experience of the product: how they move between pages, how they navigate through user flow, and how easy it is for them to achieve their goals.

UX designers need to focus on the functionality, accessibility, and enjoyability of their products, but it’s also important for them to align user needs with the larger goals of their organization, so having a foundation of business knowledge can help aspiring UX designers achieve professional success.

Visual design is something of a hybrid job between graphic design and UI design. While a UX designer is tasked with defining what a product should do to create a positive user experience, a user interface (UI) designer is concerned with how the user will interact with the product itself and is in charge of guiding users through an app or website in a way that feels intuitive. This is facilitated through strategic decisions: everything from color and pattern choices to button placement and spacing of visual elements that elicit specific behaviors without explicit instructions.

Visual design is a newer job title in the broad world of design. The role often entails everything from making individual designs to directing a visual brand in a comprehensive way. Visual designers play a key role in defining what goes into a brand’s unique style and voice, but they also have to understand user experience, user interface, and web design. They need to have exceptional visual messaging and communications skills, and while they don’t need to know how to code, they should know some of the basics, as they will often be working with developers and need to create designs that take into account what is possible in the code.

A product designer’s job is very similar to a UX designer, with one key difference: UX designers work on a project from inception to launch, however, product designers work on that project after it launches. They are still concerned with user flow, functionality, information architecture, building wireframes, and managing how a user is navigating through the product — ideally seamlessly and intuitively — but are primarily responsible for keeping the product running once users are actually using it.

This means that product designers, on top of needing strong critical thinking, design, and wireframing skills, need to be flexible, quick on their feet, and good at solving problems. They must constantly imagine ways to improve an existing product, dream up new features, and think through how to improve the experience of their users. They must do extensive research to understand their users’ desires and problems, and they must be comfortable with extensive testing to ensure the products and systems are designed to fulfill those needs. A product designer, therefore, needs to be ambitious, responsive, curious, and meticulous.

Graphics that highlight different UI/UX design roles that you can perform.

How Can You Learn UX/UI Skills?

There are a variety of different ways to learn UX and UI skills. These include bootcamps, traditional degrees, and independent learning options. Each option has its benefits, just as every learner has their own set of needs, interests, and constraints. For those interested in flexibility, for instance, UX/UI bootcamps are a quick and easy way to learn these languages and gain a university-backed credential. Bootcamps have become incredibly popular over the past decade, given their flexibility and career-mindedness. Your career goals will also be an important factor in deciding how to learn these front end languages.

Get Hands-on Training at a UX/UI Bootcamp

For professionals willing to put in the hard work and looking to gain a practical foundation in the field quickly, a UX design bootcamp is perhaps the best academic option.

Most of these intensive academic courses are flexible, with a 12–24 week timeframe and online class options, which allow learners to pursue their education while maintaining a full- or part-time job. Like traditional learning, bootcamps provide access to experienced instructors and an interactive, collaborative classroom setting — but do so at a fraction of typical university costs.

Bootcamps focus on giving candidates the foundational skills they need to succeed in UX. Most of these courses also equip learners with a capstone portfolio project that will allow them to demonstrate their practical skills to employers after boot camp completion.

Traditional College Degrees and Masters Programs

For those looking to obtain a college degree that will provide them with job opportunities in the fields of UI design and UX design, traditional college programs can be a great option. While traditional degrees require a larger investment of time and money, they allow students to study their concentration topics more deeply, as well as take courses that are of interest to them that aren’t necessarily relevant to their major. Relevant degrees include psychology, computer science, and design.

Higher education — particularly master’s programs — offers a conventional avenue into the UX industry, as such programs often provide a several-year-long dive into UX. Learning through a college or university also affords invaluable opportunities for networking or mentorship. That said, many of these programs are still new.

Independent Learning Options

There are a wide variety of options for those interested in self-taught learning experiences who want to learn UI/UX design on their own. There are various free and paid resources across the internet that allow you to learn the necessary skills without investing in a bootcamp or traditional degree. UX Planet has compiled a number of them for quick access.

FAQs

UI and UX design are often used interchangeably, but they represent two separate fields and career paths. UI design, or user interface design, focuses on a product’s aesthetic experience: what it looks like, how it’s laid out, and so on. UX design, or user experience design, focuses on product design and manages the user’s full experience, from the first contact to the last.

Yes. In the past decade, the average salary for UX/UI designers has increased by more than 30 percent. This is a fast-growing career within the tech and design industries, and it encompasses a wide array of skills, which means a lot of different types of people looking to switch careers can realistically consider upskilling into UX/UI design — particularly those in the field of marketing, design, computer science, or even psychology.

Learning UX design or UI design is not always easy, as they require the acquisition of technical skills like wireframing, UX research, UX writing, and even graphic design. It is also advantageous for those looking to gain a foothold in these industries to learn the basics of coding. But learning these skills is often worth the effort, as they provide entry into a lucrative and wide-ranging industry.

Not necessarily. UX and UI design jobs rarely require the amount of coding that, say, a web development job requires, but it is still useful for designers to know a bit of code. This is partially because they will be working closely with web developers and should be able to understand how to explain their needs. Managers hiring for designers also regularly favor those candidates with some coding experience.

No. If you’re interested in a career in one of these fields, you should focus less on a specific degree and more on the hard and soft skills required for the job you want. These include design, wireframing, research, coding, communication, and collaboration. That said, accelerated courses like bootcamps are an excellent way to receive the necessary hands-on training to prepare you for jobs in these fields.

While UI design focuses on what a product looks like, UX design is more about what it feels like to interact with a product. UI designers are in charge of the overall aesthetic of that food delivery app on your phone — how big the photos are, what font is used, what the page layouts look like. UX designers, on the other hand, are concerned with how you’re moving from one page to another, how easy it is for you to order your dinner, and which buttons you’re most likely to click.

Get Boot Camp Info

Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
0%