First, UX design is quickly growing and is in high demand, as ease of use and accessibility become priorities for software products. An Adobe survey found that UX designers are more in-demand than product managers or graphic designers, tying with software developers for first place.
Second, UX designers get paid well! Entry-level designers average around a very respectable $65,000 a year while senior-level designers make upwards of $95,000 and often break into 6-digit salaries! So clearly there are many incentives to becoming a UX designer.
But what does an entry-level designer actually do?
What Entry-Level UX Designers Do
Essentially, an entry-level UX designer performs the same duties a mid-level UX designer would perform. But whereas a mid-level designer may specialize more in a few specific areas, an entry-level designer will likely dabble in most if not all of them to get a solid foundation and see where they may want to specialize later.
So what are these duties?
UX designers first conduct product and user research to understand what they are going to design and for whom.
Product and market research allows the UX designer to understand industry standards and competition. This is insight is important because it defines the UX designer’s goals more clearly and lets them know of any possible areas where they can differentiate their product from the rest of the market.
User research seeks to define user demographics, goals, feelings, and pain points by surveying the users. This information is vital to successful UX design because it enables an empathic, user-centric approach to design; the first step to empathic UX design is a keen understanding of the users. This insight will guide the designer’s decisions and design choices to ensure that the users’ needs are met.
Once user research has been conducted and its results have been analyzed, UX designers will then use this information to create user personas. User personas are fictional representations of specific groups of the surveyed users. By creating these personas, UX designers can empathize and focus on specific pain points and goals communicated by the users to make the product more user-centric.
This is the beginning of the actual design process. After all, the research has been conducted and analyzed and the user personas have been created, it is now time to ideate solutions to their pain points. Information Architecture is the organization and placement of content and information. Essentially, it’s a layout. It is the UX designer’s job to design this layout in a way that is useful and intuitive for the user.
Once the Information Architecture is established, it’s now time to start designing a wireframe. Wireframes are detailed blueprints of the final product and must have a representation of every possible step a user may take when using the product. Wireframes cannot be used for user testing, but they provide an excellent drafting environment to finalize any designs before prototyping can begin.
After a wireframe is finalized, it is time to create a working prototype. A prototype is a functioning product that people can interact with. Prototypes are used for pitching ideas to stakeholders and for user testing.
With a functioning prototype, the UX designer can now begin evaluating the functionality and usability of their design. In this step, the designer checks for any issues with their design from a user-centric perspective by allowing the users to interact with the prototype.
An entry-level UX designer would have any or all of these responsibilities depending on their employer, team, and product. But how can you become an entry-level UX designer?
How to Land an Entry-Level UX Design Job
First and foremost, you must learn UX design. And there are a few ways you can learn UX design, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. College degrees are well organized and comprehensive, but also expensive and lengthy. Technology moves quickly, and by the time you graduate you may find that a lot of the knowledge you obtained at school is outdated. Self-teaching through books is free (or nearly free) and lets you learn at your own pace, but provides no accountability and doesn’t guarantee a comprehensive education. You’ll essentially have to learn with no guidance and rely on the work of others to show you the way.
This is why many UX designers opted for the third option.
Perhaps the most common way to enter the industry and land an enty-level UX design job is to enroll in a UX design bootcamp. Bootcamps provide a quicker and cheaper alternative to degrees, usually lasting a few months and costing only a fraction of what you’d pay for a degree. Furthermore, bootcamps like Avocademy are more focused on hands-on experience and provide a mentor who can guide you in your learning as well as your career. Avocademy prepares its students for the job market by focusing on the fundamentals and portfolio building (which is essential to landing an entry-level UX design job) as well as providing career mentorship.
Getting that first gig can be tricky, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Ready to Start Your UX Career?