When employers and clients look for user experience professionals, they might ask about specific degrees or certifications, but mostly they want to see what you’ve done. This is great news for those who don’t want to spend years collecting a degree, but how do you start building a UX resume and portfolio?
The key to a new career in UX is to review the field, find one or more specialties that speak to you and leverage your previous experience, then learn enough of the basics to get started on that first project or entry-level position.
Your first projects could be on a volunteer basis, or working as an intern. If you already work with UX professionals, take them out to lunch and pick their brain, or ask to help out on a project to see how they do things.
UX touches on many other fields: copywriting, graphic design, front-end development, library science, psychology, and anthropology, to name just a few. If you’ve studied or worked in a field like this, you already have valuable insight into UX. It’s just a matter of stretching yourself to learn UX skills that are adjacent to your experience.
- Jakob Nielsen’s “10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design” is one of the first UX articles I ever read, and you’ll still see it quoted, paraphrased, and put to use every day.
- Here’s an overview of the specialties within UX, and a discussion of whether it’s better to be a specialist or a generalist:
- UX designer Jessica Ivins has a regularly updated list of resources for UX newcomers. She’s also an instructor at Center Centre in Chattanooga, an internationally known UX design school.
- O’Reilly’s UX for Beginners is a good primer.
- A couple of good UX blogs to follow:
- A few names to know and follow on Twitter:
- AIGA is a group of professionals in UI, UX, and related fields.
- FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis offers two-day Agile User Experience courses.
Looking for more advice? Contact me.