6 Tips for Becoming a UX Designer

By Demian Borba, Product Manager for Adobe XD

The UX design industry is growing at a rapid pace as companies look to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Good UX is no longer an option for businesses, but a necessity.

For those who hire UX designers, companies report they are as much a priority to their organizations as software engineers – and the need for UX designers is only going to increase over the next few years.


In a recent study from Adobe, 63 percent of those surveyed have hired at least five UX designers in the last 12 months, while almost three-quarters expect to hire at least twice as many UX designers as compared to now. Across the country, major cities—from Detroit to Chicago to Los Angeles—have seen growth in UX hires within the last year.

The field is quickly becoming one of the top careers for tech workers and new grads, but what exactly does it take to become a professional UX designer in 2017?

From perfecting your portfolio to nailing the interview process, these tips and tricks will help you gain the attention of hiring managers and jumpstart your new career in UX design.

1. Perfect Your Portfolio

When applying for a UX position, a strong portfolio can make or break a candidate’s chances. A key element for hiring managers, make sure your portfolio highlights your experience, your best work, and your unique design style. Whether you’re just starting out in the field or you’re a seasoned UX expert, showing prospective clients or employers the quality of your work with a solid, professional portfolio or website is essential.

[Related: User Experience in Graphic Design & Why it Matters | How to Optimize Web Images for the Best User Experience]

2. Leverage Design Experience

When hiring UX Designers, previous design experience is among the most important criteria that hiring managers consider. For recent grads or those that are new to the field, brush up on your experience to show your design chops. If you don’t have a design degree or professional job experience, consider attending classes or workshops at a local college or school in your area. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of design tactics and strategies, and refine your own style when creating your projects. Above all: practice, practice, practice to polish your skills.

3. Develop Your Interpersonal Skills

Your portfolio and experience may earn you an interview, but how can you wow your hiring manager and lock in your new position? Your working style is essential. In fact, having poor interpersonal skills is more likely to disqualify a candidate than a weak portfolio or not having a 4-year degree. Beyond social and communication skills, it will also be important to highlight your team-building and collaboration skills in your interview to make a strong impression as a UX designer.hdl-2017-nodate

4. Know How to Build Empathy

Being able to empathize is one of the most important requirements of UX designers today. To better understand not only users and customers, but fellow designers and colleagues in the workplace, understanding how others think and feel will enable the creation of better user experiences. Take a hands-on approach by using the platforms, services and software your customers use – this will give you a direct look to the positive features and challenges your users experience. This will enable you to deliver improved experiences moving forward. When collaborating with a colleague, understanding their points of view will provide clarity on their work style, expectations in the office and overall goals. Ask questions and simply observe your environment to help solidify your empathy skills. Seeing how people view and experience their surroundings is not only fascinating, but a vital component of being a UX designer and the design thinking process.

5. Know Your Tools

The #1 skill hiring managers look for is knowledge of UX tools, and Adobe software tops hiring managers’ list of essential products that UX designers must know how to use. Strengthen your UX skills with tools such as Adobe XD with free Creative Cloud tutorials from Adobe.

6. …and the Industry

For a long-lasting and fulfilling career, immersing yourself in the UX industry is necessary. Do your homework on top designers to keep track of industry trends and best practices, as well as to simply inspire your own projects. Knowing what’s coming next for the industry and staying on top of innovative technologies will also be key to solidify your UX career. From augmented reality to artificial intelligence to wearables, emerging tech will be increasingly important to consider when building new UX design platforms and projects. Researching these trends and how they can be implemented in your UX skillset can set you apart from a sea of candidates and put your innovative thinking on display.

You can learn more about the UX industry at the Adobe Creative Cloud blog.

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4 thoughts on “6 Tips for Becoming a UX Designer

  1. albertellenich

    Good article. It’s refreshing to see an article like this with tips outside your typical UX thinking. It’s not all about the tools and how well you wireframe. I wrote a guest post going into details with your #1 point on perfecting your portfolio. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/greatUXportfolio

  2. aliceCA

    Thank you for such a full review! I wish I could become an artist one day and make fantastic projects like landor.com or fuselabcreative.com! I love their work, I feel the talent and passion in the way they do it. And your blog will help me in achieving this. Keep up!