One of the best ways to get into web design or product development is to study how to become a UI/UX designer. After all, behind every successful product or web page is the person who created its look and feel. Both user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are incredibly important facets of design, ensuring that the end result is both attractive and easy to navigate.
Because of their obvious importance, UI and UX design careers are becoming more popular. And whether you choose a UI or UX designer career path, a lucrative road awaits. This comprehensive guide breaks down how to become a UI/UX designer, giving you all the information you need to pursue the UX or UI career that’s right for you.
A UI/UX designer is a digital interface designer who works on both the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) components of an application. Some organizations employ UI designers and UX designers in separate, more specialized roles, but a person who has the skills to perform both the UI and UX functions will have more job opportunities and earn a higher salary.
The reason these roles are often combined is that UI and UX are closely related. UX and UI designers need to work hand in hand to create something that looks good and feels engaging to the user. If the two roles are not occupied by the same person, the resulting design may not be optimally cohesive, which is very frustrating for both the organization and the end user.
The difference between UX and UI comes down to look vs feel. Whether you’re a UI or UX designer, you need to consider the needs of the user, but the two roles approach users in different ways. While a UI designer considers how the user interacts with the aesthetic look of a web page, a UX designer caters to what the users feel as they navigate the page.
Put another way, the UI vs UX designer question comes down to the difference between surfaces and the stuff that lies beneath. While UI design ensures that the interface makes a strong first impression on the user, UX design anticipates users’ deeper needs to convince them of the underlying product’s value to their lives.
UI/UX designers are responsible for turning an idea into a web design that meets a certain set of specifications. After they complete a design, it is passed onto the development team, which turns the design into a functioning application.
UI/UX designers work to ensure that a site is easy to use and navigate. They collaborate with other members of an organization to create designs that adhere to the marketing strategy for a given product. For example, a UX designer might work with the customer success department to find out what problems users commonly report, which will help inform new designs.
To become a UX/UI designer, you need to be prepared to perform all of these duties. On the UX design side, they employ visual design, usability testing, and psychology to craft a product that’s easy to navigate and that communicates the company’s brand identity. In their UI design function, they focus on questions of style, structure, and flow to make the interface appealing.
You can’t learn how to become a UX/UI designer unless you know which skills you should be focusing on. The most important skills for people in the UI/UX design field fall into three categories, which are technical skills, soft skills, and the ability to use specific UI/UX design tools. Let’s take a closer look at all three types of UX/UI designer skills.
Wireframing and prototyping. This skill involves sketching out your design ideas before building the real thing, which will save you loads of time and money. Prototyping is the general name for this process. A wireframe is a specific form of prototyping that UI/UX designers use to visualize the structure and basic outline of a web design.
User research. No UI/UX designer’s technical skills are complete without a full understanding of what engages the attention of a real user. Researching how users respond, on both an emotional and a practical level, to various design choices will keep your design skills sharp and the designs themselves more appealing to your audience.
Branding. An appealing design means nothing to your client unless you can keep the company’s brand identity in focus. Whether that means a distinctive color palette or a well-placed image, you want your design to generate good feelings about the products or experiences you’re putting on display.
Interactivity and animation. Technical interaction design skills are a crucial subcategory of UI/UX designer technical skills. A user can have a positive experience on a web page without interacting with the product directly, but interactivity turns experience into direct engagement with the help of animations and other visual effects.
Implementation with developers. It used to be that a designer and a developer could be the same person. These days, an experienced designer is unlikely to have the coding skills to bring their own complex designs to fruition. Instead, they hand off their designs to the developers with clear instructions for carrying them across the finish line.
Problem-solving. To an expert designer, problem-solving is not just a soft skill. It’s a methodology that informs every part of their design process. UX/UI designs are less random when the talented people behind them treat their clients’ wishes as specific problems for which each design choice is a potential solution.
Empathy. A user experience designer can only conduct effective user research if they truly understand what users are thinking when they navigate a page. To do this requires empathy, and a bad design is often the result of a UX designer’s failure to get into the minds of the users they’re trying to target.
Adaptability. You can’t become a UX/UI designer unless you can adapt to changing circumstances. This is because every design project requires intense collaboration and involves multiple stakeholders. If your wireframe reveals a problem, you have to be willing to start over. If the client is unhappy, you need to go back to the drawing board.
Adobe XD. It should come as no surprise that Adobe, the top name in digital design, has released its own UI/UX product. The Adobe XD software includes all the UI/UX designer tools needed for real projects, from prototyping tools to animation functionality to features that make it easier for a design team to collaborate.
Sketch. Another complete set of UI/UX designer tools, this software can take your project all the way from ideation to developer handoff. While Sketch doesn’t have quite as many features as Adobe XD, many professionals find it easier to navigate, especially for the user interface design aspects of product development.
Figma. Like Adobe XD and Sketch, Figma is another all-in-one tool that anyone who wants to become a UX/UI designer should know how to use. While Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD may seem interchangeable to the uninitiated, Figma is the best option for those who prefer to work in a browser and are adept at vector graphics.
Balsamiq. More specialized than Adobe XD and Sketch, this product focuses on the wireframing component of a UI/UX designer’s toolkit. It allows you to create prototypes in a way that simulates the experience of brainstorming ideas with pen and paper.
Red Pen. This product, whose name is a reference to the writing implement used to grade papers, is for any visual designer who wants a clear and easy way to deliver and receive feedback. Perfect for collaboration, Red Pen gives cross-functional teams what they need to stay on the same page while a product is in development.
How you become a UX/UI designer varies according to your education choices. While a bachelor’s degree is still the industry norm for most tech jobs, there are other options available for any creative person who doesn’t have time for formal degrees. UI/UX designer education requirements can also be met by attending a bootcamp program.
The critical thing to remember is that the education landscape is evolving. You can become a UX/UI designer with a certificate from a graphic design bootcamp like Shillington School, or you can get a web design associate degree and see what job opportunities it opens. As long as you can prove you have the necessary skills, any of the following education options will do.
An increasingly popular way of learning the ins and outs of user interface and user experience design is at a UX/UI design bootcamp. A newer addition to the coding bootcamp scene, web design bootcamps have more flexible schedules and are more affordable than college degrees. The following top UX/UI bootcamps can teach you industry-standard skills in just a few months:
Before UX/UI design bootcamps came onto the scene, it was common for UI/UX designers to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field. College degrees teach you the theory of design and the basic principles of the design process, but you may find yourself lacking practical experience and being burdened by debt once you graduate.
If you’re looking for a more affordable degree option, you can go to community college and get an associate degree before transferring to a four-year school. If you already have a bachelor’s degree but don’t feel like you quite meet the minimum UI/UX designer education requirements, you can get a web design master’s degree in just one or two years.
Plan your career path
Choose an educational route
Become certified (optional)
Build your UI/UX design portfolio
Work on your resume
Apply for jobs
Prepare for job interviews
The process for how to become a UX/UI designer involves prep work, some form of education, real work experience, and resume building. Like the field of UI/UX itself, the work of becoming a UI/UX designer is an iterative and cyclical process, defined by continuous learning and a commitment to upskilling. Study carefully each step in our list to become a UX/UI designer.
Because there is no one right way to become a UX/UI designer, you first need to create a roadmap for your journey into the design industry. As we discussed in the previous section, there are formal and informal pathways to acquiring the necessary skills. To choose the best path for you, just evaluate your learning style and decide how much time you want to spend.
Another important consideration is money. Not all career paths are created equal, and some are more cost-effective than others. You should conduct a cost-benefit analysis and try to calculate which career path is most likely to result in the highest return on your educational investment.
The many options for your UI/UX designer education include college degrees and bootcamps. The main advantage of college is that most job ads, even in the UX/UI design field, list a bachelor’s degree as the minimum requirement. The problem is that web design bachelor’s degrees may be too generalized, and they may lack opportunities for hands-on experience.
There are also more flexible and less expensive options out there, even compared to the best online web design bachelor’s degrees. Slowly but surely, a combination of bootcamp training, certification, and self-study is becoming an acceptable substitute for traditional education. In six months or less, and for around $10,000, you can get the UX/UI skills you need.
For any UI/UX designer, work experience is essential. You need to practice what you learned in school so that prospective employers will believe you know what you’re doing. You can become a user experience designer more quickly if you land some sort of junior position first, something adjacent to UI/UX that can give you relevant experience.
If you’re having trouble finding a junior position, here are a few ways to gain valuable work experience for your resume:
Pro bono work
This optional step is for aspiring UI/UX designers who want to market themselves as having specific skills. After all, if you’re struggling to move past entry-level jobs, it may be because the experience you’ve gained is hard to prove to employers. A certificate in UX design, UI design, or some subset of relevant skills or tools might be your ticket to becoming a UI/UX designer.
Your UX/UI designer portfolio is what matters most to the majority of hiring managers. Unlike many coding positions, design roles can be won with a strong portfolio. When building your UI design portfolio or UX designer portfolio, focus on projects that show the most skill. When it comes to portfolios, four amazing projects far outrank eight average ones.
Your resume is your chance to make a good first impression. A UI/UX designer’s resume should highlight experience and skills, including any notable projects and awards. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to become a UX designer or UI designer, the advice is the same. Sell your qualifications as best as you can.
This is not to say, of course, that you should oversell your qualifications. Be honest about the UX/UI design tools you know, and don’t lie about your education and work history. For each job you’ve had, remember to describe your most important duties clearly and accurately. Once you have a one-page draft of your basic resume, you can start applying for specific jobs.
Although this is the most obvious step, it is worth emphasizing that you cannot become a user experience designer or user interface designer if you don’t know how to navigate the job application process. Your work experience, education, and skills will influence which jobs you decide to apply for. From there, it’s simply a matter of mastering the art of applying for jobs.
At this stage, you should already have a draft of your resume in hand. Now it’s time to carefully review each job ad and revise your UI or UX designer cover letter and resume accordingly. If your application materials aren’t perfectly tailored to each position, the hiring manager may not give them a second look.
Technical interviews give potential employers the chance to assess your knowledge of the field. While your projects might look good, you should still expect that the hiring manager will use a well-curated set of UI/UX designer interview questions to put you to the test. Companies want to see how you handle the design and user testing process and how well you work with others.
If you attend a bootcamp for UI/UX design, such as the UX/UI product design program offered by Flatiron School, these steps will be a breeze. With robust career services that include mentorship, interview prep, portfolio guidance, and resume reviews, bootcamps ensure that all students know how to get into UX or UI design by the time they graduate.
The UI/UX designer job outlook is quite promising. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track the job outlook for UI/UX designers specifically, BLS does project that total employment for web designers will increase 15 percent by 2032. The main reason for high UX design job growth in particular is the stiff competition within the online retail marketplace.
Keep in mind that no two UI/UX design careers are the same. One popular UX designer career path is to become a UX research specialist, using use surveys, interviews, and other methods to identify problems that customers encounter with a product. Other UI/UX professionals may grow into product designers, where they work with large teams on end-to-end product development.
Learning how to become a UX/UI designer is a lucrative career move, according to most sources. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that web and digital interface designers make a median salary of $83,240. If the median freelance web designer earns roughly the same hourly wage as the median full-time web designer, this works out to $38.41 per hour.
Web design, however, is a broad field, of which UX/UI designers are just one part. So how much do UI/UX designers make? It depends on specialization and experience. According to PayScale, the average UI designer earns slightly less than the average UX designer, $70,074 to $77,701. And PayScale estimates that an experienced UX designer is worth $100,160 per year.
If you become a UI/UX designer, you can work for any business that maintains an online presence, which is most businesses nowadays. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industries that employ the most web and digital designers are computer systems design, software publishers, and advertising and PR companies.
However, not all web designers know UI and UX design. Online retailers are the most common employers of these specialists, who typically work alongside developers. Some big companies, such as Amazon and Oracle, also have UI/UX design internship programs. According to ZipRecruiter, the bulk of UX interns make between $15 and $50 per hour.
Most UI/UX designers do not get professional certification to validate their skills. If you’re looking for the top UX/UI design certifications, what you might have in mind are certificates. The difference between certifications and certificates is sometimes blurred, but the following three UX/UI certificates and certifications are some of the best non-degree credentials available.
Google’s program for aspiring UX professionals is beginner-friendly, self-paced, and fully online. Offered by Coursera and taught by Google’s team of career gurus, it consists of seven courses covering a range of topics, from prototypes to UX research to responsive web design. The final course is a capstone project that prepares students for entry-level UI/UX design jobs.
This top UX/UI design certification is the closest thing to an actual professional certification in user experience design you can find. Nielsen Norman Group is a consulting firm specializing in UX research and training. Its certification program requires candidates to choose five courses and pass five online exams. The courses vary in price, but most are around $1,000.
This online certificate program is geared toward professionals of any background who hope to incorporate the principles of user experience into their current careers. This means that, with this credential, you can become a UX/UI designer even if what you’re doing now is only tangentially related to user experience. It includes six courses and takes a year to complete.
You don’t need to uproot your life to get access to high-quality UX and UI design courses. That’s because short-term and online UI/UX design training has become more robust in recent years, led by coding bootcamps online courses. The following list contains UX/UI design courses for everyone.
Full-Time UI/UX Design
Price: $12,350 - $14,823
Level: Beginner to advanced
Thinkful offers a wide range of coding bootcamps and other programs for aspiring tech professionals. The UI/UX design training options include a 24-week part-time program and a 20-week full-time program. Regardless of which you choose, you will learn the fundamentals of interaction and visual design and work on a real project for your portfolio.
Price: $349 - $11,900
Springboard offers students a four-week crash course on web design, complete with industry tools and real-world projects. This is a great option if you’re unsure about investing in a complete bootcamp program. If you decide that web design is for you, it has a nine-month UX/UI design bootcamp and a six-month course for those interested only in UX design.
Webflow University’s free courses are made up of on-demand video lessons. In the main web design course, students learn the basics of HTML, Webflow CMS, and CSS, as well as the rudiments of page design construction, including containers, DIVs, flexboxes, and grids. The other course shows students how to use Figma and Webflow to build a website from scratch.
Skillshare offers an array of courses for different skill levels. This platform is a great tool for complete beginners who want to tackle design fundamentals and for those who want to add skills to their CVs. Skillshare even has a few free basic web design courses, but for access to most of its course catalog, you’ll need to buy a monthly or yearly subscription.
Price: $695 - $14,500
UC San Diego Extension offers two high-quality UX and UI design programs to the general public. An aspiring interaction designer can start with the two-month course on UI design and learn about digital illustration, photography, and Adobe software. The 13-course design program offers comprehensive graphic design and UX/UI design training.
UI design and UX design are exciting and constantly changing fields. To stay up to date on how to become a UX/UI designer, you should turn to online resources. The more frequently updated the resource is, the better it is for your job prospects. The UX/UI blogs and Internet guides featured below can help you stay abreast of the latest developments in 2023.
This vast number of UI/UX design resources collected under the Designmodo banner makes it easy for both novice and expert designers to build attractive and engaging websites. The blog contains tutorials on HTML, CSS, jQuery, and several Adobe products, and you can enhance your next design project by getting Designmodo’s proprietary site builder for $199 per year.
This digital publication is like a simulated journey through your future career in UX/UI design. For anyone looking to take stock of how to become a UX/UI designer, UX Planet publishes career advice, tutorials for beginners, and introductions to important UX design concepts. Its articles on user research and user testing can help you brush up for your next job interview.
The most technical of the UI/UX design resources on this list, UX Movement specializes in detailed walkthroughs to help designers sharpen their practical skills. It has different sections of its blog devoted to wireframes, mobile design, and design thinking, as well as more focused sections on forms, buttons, and navigation, three important facets of any web design.
This resource is Adobe’s online hub for digital designers whose UX/UI design tool of choice is Adobe XD. You can go straight to the Learn XD portion of the blog for a step-by-step guide on any aspect of Adobe XD that you need to master, or you can visit its sections on design processes, design principles, and design perspectives for more general training.
If you’re looking to connect with fellow designers, learn the business side of UI/UX design, and read up on how to code user experiences, UXmatters is your one-stop shop. The homepage is where you can find all the most recent articles, but there’s also a Top Articles section where you can read the 25 most popular articles ever published on the site.
Yes, you should study how to become a UI/UX designer if you have an eye for design and the motivation to fill your knowledge gaps. There are certain qualities that separate successful and happy designers from unsuccessful and miserable ones. These are:
A web design background, if not a digital design degree
A love or knack for visual design
An interest in how other people think
The ability to present or sell
A passion for technology
If you possess these traits, then you should definitely start your learning journey. Remember that anyone can learn how to become a UI/UX designer with the right education, skills, and experience. Tech professionals come in all shapes in sizes, and there is no single path to landing web design roles. All you need is to find the path that works for you.
Opportunities to be creative. While the process of learning how to become a UX/UI designer involves acquiring a lot of specialized skills, the profession is at its core a creative one. If you’re good at manipulating color schemes and know your way around a canvas, you can find fulfillment in creating designs that scratch your artistic itch.
Respectable salaries. The high incomes available in the tech industry are what attract many creative people to UI/UX design. You don’t have to be a struggling artist when you can break into tech as a professional UX or UI designer and earn salaries above $60,000 per year, according to PayScale.
Job security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for digital designers and web developers will increase by 15 percent by 2032. Talented UX/UI designers are prized assets of any company with a digital presence, and they will remain valuable as long as there are companies that strive to maximize users’ time on site.
Branding over artistic expression. UX/UI design is probably not the career for you if you find marketing and advertising unsavory. Some designers and artists would prefer not to use their skills to sell products, even if that’s where the money is.
Overspecialization. The fact that BLS still lumps together web developers and digital designers suggests that these careers are very closely related, but the field is rapidly becoming hyperspecialized. It’s getting harder to become a programmer who designs or a designer who codes. If you want a broad skillset, UI/UX design may not be for you.
Difficult clients. In UX/UI design, the customer is always right. When your professional life is dictated by that maxim, you won’t always get to lead with your artistic vision. There will probably come a time in your career when you’ll have to start from scratch in order to satisfy the unclear wishes of a demanding client, and that can be frustrating.
Yes, you can work from home as a UX designer by becoming a freelancer or by finding a company that allows designers to work remotely. According to ZipRecruiter, the average freelance web designer earns $65,000 per year, which is competitive with the going industry rate for full-time employees. Big companies like Amazon and Google also hire remote UX designers.
No, there are plenty of opportunities to work in UX/UI design with no degree. While most employers prefer to hire candidates with bachelor’s degrees, there are more design jobs than there are qualified degree holders. The secret behind how to become a UI/UX designer with no experience and no degree is to find a good bootcamp and build a great portfolio.
While both UI/UX designers and graphic designers require graphic design skills, a graphic designer focuses more on non-interactive elements and a UI/UX designer pays more attention to how elements move, function, and respond. Whether a UI/UX or graphic designer role is more your speed depends on whether the feel or merely the look of a web page is more important to you.
UX design is important because it taps into how users actually behave when they visit web pages. Attention is a valuable commodity in today’s economy, and UX design has become the method of choice among businesses hoping to grab users’ attention. The increasing importance of UX design in the marketplace is one reason to become a UX/UI designer.