If you want to transition to a UX career, you need to learn the basics first. But with so many resources out there, you might be wondering: What is the most efficient way?
The good news is that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars and endless hours when learning the fundamentals.
Read on to discover the fastest, most efficient, and most affordable ways to master the UX basics and avoid common mistakes during your career transition.
Bonus - Free Training Video: to help you navigate the whole process of landing your first UX role, we have created a comprehensive 2-hour free training video. The training covers the entire UX career transition journey in detail and will help you understand how exactly you can become a highly marketable candidate, avoid the common costly mistakes and master your UX job search. Once you read this article, you can request access to the free training here.
While learning and obtaining some hard UX skills is key, assuming that will be enough to get you hired is one of the most common mistakes. To successfully transition into a UX career, learning is only one of a few important pillars you need. (If you would like to know what else you need to become a highly hirable candidate, feel free to take a look at the article on our blog that covers the entire UX career transition roadmap.)
It is easy to spend too much time obtaining “just in case” knowledge, preventing you from getting the hands-on project experience you need to progress in your career. There is an almost infinite amount of UX content available online and one can easily get stuck consuming that content for months or even years while still not becoming a highly marketable candidate.
There are many courses that cost a few thousand bucks but then only teach you the UX basics without really helping you make this career transition. If you are highly committed and motivated, you can easily learn the UX basics for free or very cheaply, and you do not have to spend thousands of dollars just to learn the essentials.
While it’s essential to grasp the UX fundamentals, in most cases it won’t be enough to get you your first UX role. Even if you come from a design background, you need quite a few other skills and competencies to become a desirable candidate for your prospective employers. Since learning the UX basics is just the start, it is a good idea to do it efficiently by following the steps in this article.
By avoiding these mistakes, you can save a ton of time and money on learning the UX essentials and make your overall career transition much faster.
Once you are sure you want to pursue a career in UX, a great starting point is learning the UX fundamentals. Here are the three steps that will get you there in a highly efficient way:
The first essential step to learning UX fundamentals is understanding the big picture, learning what UX actually is, what UX designers typically do and don’t do, and understanding the overall UX process and its key phases and principles.
After you understand the overall bigger picture, you should start going deeper and learning more about each phase before moving on to practicing with that phase, which is the next step.
And since this step is closely connected with the next one, we recommend practicing the skills alongside learning the basics as the most efficient way to learn.
We will cover the different paths you can take when learning more about these phases later in this article.
Remember that while you’re learning the basics, it is key to start practicing as much as possible, which is why we advise to start doing your first project (and potential case study, which you could later add to your portfolio) alongside learning the theory / concepts.
The next (and crucial) step is applying what you’ve learned for each phase and producing the deliverables by completing UX exercises and projects.
If you can, get experience with a project involving all the main UX phases (and corresponding deliverables). This will let you know exactly what you need to learn, allow you to build up your skills, make you proficient with the UX tools like Figma, Sketch or Adobe XD, and get you the first case study for your portfolio.
Below are the main UX process phases along with some of the most common deliverables:
The options for learning UX fundamentals can vary in price and format. You could choose one of the following options to kickstart your learning process (the options are listed from most to least expensive).
Higher education is typically the most expensive option, which can also take the longest. Taking the higher education route can be worth it, especially if you don’t already have a degree.
These courses provide quite a bit of support while typically giving the flexibility of learning online (or in-person) in a group setting. They typically cost $1-4K and include courses such as General Assembly’s Part-Time UX Course, Fashion Institute of Technology UX Certificate, etc.
With mentored online courses, you get access to content and some support. This route can cost you $300-1.5K and include courses such as General Assembly’s On-Demand UX Course, Springboard, Career Foundry, or Design Lab basics courses (not their career-transition programs but shorter introductory courses that just cover the basics).
While you get some feedback or mentorship with this type of courses, the support is mainly in asynchronous written format rather than live. The typical cost can be around $20-$400 per month, and examples include courses such as Udacity UX Bootcamp / Nanodegree, Treehouse UX Techdegree, or cheaper options like Coursera (including Google’s UX Certificate, University of Michigan’s or CalArts' courses) and Interaction Design Foundation (IDF).
Independent learning using various content without any support is the most affordable route. This option can be effective and is ideal for highly self-motivated folks who only need access to the course content and are not really looking for support along the way.
The typical cost can be $0-50 per month (or $0-300 per course), and examples include courses available through Treehouse, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Skillshare and Coursera (if you just audit a course).
Remember that while learning the basics is an important step in your journey, it is just the start. In the vast majority of cases, just knowing the UX fundamentals will not be enough to get hired.
To help you navigate the whole process of landing your first UX role, we have created a comprehensive 2-hour free training video. The training covers the entire UX career transition journey in detail and will help you understand how exactly you can become a highly marketable candidate, avoid the common costly mistakes and master your UX job search. You can request access to the free training here.