In just a few decades, the UX community has evolved to include numerous researchers, designers, writers and strategists dedicated to improving usability and accessibility. However, if you are just beginning to test the user-centric waters, it may be hard to figure out exactly where to start.
Here are a few tips for anyone about to embark on their UX journey:
Attend local meet ups: Get involved in your design community by going to a meet up. These events typically run once a month and include a guest speaker and networking session. You will learn about hot topics, best practices, open opportunities, and meet new friends. Some meet ups also have a Slack channel where members share ideas, event announcements and job listings. Find a meet up near you on websites like meetup.com or eventbrite.com.
Find a mentor: Mentorship is a mutually rewarding experience and can be as casual as getting coffee once a month. Mentors grow by nurturing and guiding rising talent while mentees benefit from consulting an industry veteran. Reaching out to a connection on LinkedIn that has your dream job or works with a company that you love can open the door to a valuable professional relationship.
Take a class: For a formal introduction to User Experience principles and processes, enroll in a UX Design course. There is a range of options, from full-time boot camps to part-time programs, to fit a variety of schedules. Depending on your location and preferences, both in-person and online courses are available. Plus, you can expand your network with your classmates and instructors.
Tackle a practice project: Practice projects give a glimpse into the types of issues that you would address in a full-time role. Sites like rookieup.com have challenge statements that enable beginners to apply UX principles to real problems. This is a great step to enhance your portfolio and explore the design process at your own pace.
Document it: Record everything that you learn along the way in a case study. Logging your methods and results will encourage you to reflect on previous projects. Additionally, sharing your experiences on platforms like Medium and Dribbble may provide useful insight for someone working through a similar situation.
Exploring a new field can feel overwhelming and intimidating, but there are plenty of ways to chart unfamiliar territory. Remember, as long as you are investigating and advocating for the needs of your user, you are on the right path.