Updated: Nov 30, 2022
There are multiple ways of Learning Design and being a UI/UX Designer. Some prefer to start with any long course, some prefer to join a boot camp, work on projects and be a UI/UX Designer. A lot of phenomenal UI/UX designers are self-taught, at least in the beginning. So how do you go about teaching yourself to design beautiful digital products?
There are several paths to learning UI/UX design and there’s not a single right or wrong way. It all comes down to learning the theories behind good design and practising them until you master them.
In this article, I'll take you through the 7 Key Steps which can make you a Good Self-Taught UI/UX Designer.
Learn the fundamentals of UX Design
Develop a Designer's Eye
Deep-dive into the right softwares
Start with a short course/watch tutorials
Build a kickass portfolio
Socialise your skills
Get the real-world experience
Step 1: Learn the fundamentals of UX Design
A Good Design comes with a website or an app which delivers a smooth and great User Experience.
UX design focuses on creating a delightful experience through meeting user needs and wants, as well as through user psychology. Getting into the user's shoes and understanding the pain points of the user allows a designer to create Human Centred Products.
Understanding the user's actions about why the user was not able to complete a particular process or what's the thing that let the user exit from any website/app.
All those psychological things fall under UX Design. You will get tonnes of Articles and Tutorials to learn from about all those UX Fundamentals. Start listening to numerous podcasts. To begin with, I would recommend investing your first penny in getting two books for yourself which will give you more clarity about UX. The Design of Everyday Things is a great book written by The Father of UX -Don Norman. And Don't Make Me Think is another asset by -Steve Krug which will bring you more clarity about UX Design. Listing some helpful websites from where you can learn more UX Laws and Fundamentals.
Step 2: Develop a Designer's Eye
Learning and understanding the UX Fundamentals will help you go far. But it's not just UX Design it's also UI Design, which requires a lot of practice to get better at it. Getting better at UI/UX Design will come when you start practising studying the designs of websites and apps.
Try to keep a good eye always on the apps and websites. Analyse the details added to the particular app/website. Look for the spacing, hierarchy, colours, alignment, interactions and other aesthetic stuff. Be curious to learn things, and keep questioning a particular element and its place or how is it working the way it is. Can it be in a different manner? Keep on questioning things. This is the key to developing a strong Visual Eye for Design. Don't stop looking for new inspirations and mood boards, you can use Behance, Dribbble to find some really good inspirations.
Project by: Halo Lab
Step 3: Deep-dive into the right softwares
You learned things and understood the key concepts, but to apply those and bring your designs to life. You need to start by learning the right tools. There are plenty of tools that you can learn to start designing. But I would recommend going with some of the standard softwares used for designing such as Figma, Sketch (for Mac), Adobe XD, and Invision (good for prototyping). You can go as per your preference, whichever you like.
Design by: Artboard
Pro Tip: "Give ordinary people the right tools, and they will design and build the most extraordinary things." - Neil Gershenfeld
Step 4: Start with a short course/watch tutorials
Taking a course will help you learn more about the process of design. How to begin with a problem statement and follow the design process to reach a final solution. Knowing the design process is an essential element. It's not like just learning the fundamentals, investing in the right tools and starting designing, NO! A designer should know how to take a user's problem and work on it, empathising with the user, following the methodology and building a great product for the user. There are numerous courses on some great platforms like Coursera, Udemy and some Ed-Tech Platforms. You can also go with some private organisations where they teach such courses. Listing some of them below:
Mobile User Experience (UX) Course - Interaction Design Foundation
Learn UX Design - Interaction Design Foundation
User Experience Design Essentials - Adobe XD UI UX Design
YouTube is one of the best platforms where you get to learn a lot of skills from your favourite mentors/designers, and for Free. UX Design can be learned through YouTube as well. Listing some of the good channels from where you can learn design.
And you can Subscribe to my channel as well where I've started to drop design videos and to teach UI/UX Design at ₹0 - Asim Antule
Step 5: Build a Kickass Portfolio
Well done for reaching this far, but where's all the work, the hassle you did? You need to have a place where you'll display all of your work and build a solid foundation for your career. A portfolio is a place where you'll draft all your work and the projects you did in a properly structured manner in order to get a good job.
That's alright if you don't have any real-world experience. How can you create a portfolio if you've begun from scratch? I would recommend you make use of Free UI Kits, in the beginning, to understand all the components how they are created and how can they be applied in your designs. Try to take some websites with bad UI and redesign those, take inspiration, create mood boards, sketch your ideas and then design the final product. Using UI Kits, in the beginning, will help you get consistent designs which will add an impression on your portfolio. Make sure you put your max efforts to create some good designs and make your portfolio the best. Once you are done creating the designs, look for High-Quality Mockups to put your designs into it. If you've got a good big case study to put in your portfolio, make sure you tell a good story throughout your portfolio. And last but not least keep it Clean and make it aesthetically good looking. Look for good Portfolio Inspirations on Behance.
"Stronger the Portfolio, Higher the chances of getting some good opportunities." - Asim Antule
Portfolio by Habibi
Step 6: Socialise Your Skills
The moment you start socialising your work, you increase your chances of being noticed. Business owners are looking for creatives and designers on social media. Once you keep uploading your work on social media, high-quality work, it'll take the lesser effort to bring good opportunities. You never know when a business owner will look at your profile and hire you. Chance of getting more clients for Freelancing increases when you're active on social media uploading your great work.
I got my first client from Instagram itself. I post design content and UI/UX Resources and share much more design tips and tricks. On a mission to teach UI/UX in an easy way. Get connected at uiux.asim will talk there.
Find some good mentors on social media and ask for feedback on your work. It's a good way to improve as a UI/UX Designer. Be open to criticism. Learn to seek and embrace negative design feedback and use it as fuel to improve your designs.
Pro tip: To accelerate your design skills, find a design mentor. You’d be surprised how many established UI/UX designers are more than willing to give you advice and help you build your career.
Step 7: Get the Real-World Experience
Now it's time to get out, now you're ready to try multiple opportunities, have practical knowledge and have real-world experience. Start applying to entry-level UI/UX design jobs. Even if you don’t land a job right away, the job hunt is a great opportunity to practice your soft skills such as communication and explaining the decisions behind your designs—two very important qualities that hiring managers are looking for in design candidates. Develop your communication skills, and learn story-telling. The digital portfolio that you created will play a major role here when you start applying, it's the main thing that a recruiter will see and based on the work and your skills you'll get an opportunity.
Pro Tip: Developing your UI/UX design portfolio is an iterative process. Like every other design project, it gets better the more you practice and hone your skills. Keep updating your portfolio as you create new work.
There you go! Become a self-taught designer.
Know that it's okay that you've started from scratch and you're not so proficient, even if you are at a low level right now, it depends on you how you develop your UI/UX skills and level up your designs. It's all matter of learning, be open to learning every day, and your time, efforts and dedication will pay you. Keep learning and growing your skills and remember that nothing happens overnight.
You’ve got this! All The Best.