UI/UX Designer

UI/UX Designer

May 27, 2021 12:10 AM

👉 Start here

Looking to start a career in UI/UX Design? Starter FAQs here

First thing first, what do UI/UX Designers do?

UX is short for User Experience and UI short for User Interface, you can be one or the other, or both. In general, UX Designers focus on how human users interact with a product or system (website, app, software, car, game, smart speaker, etc.) and what they get out of the experience, and UI Designers focus more on the visual presentation of the interface (e.g. typography, illustration, color, layout). For a detailed explanation, learn more about what UI Designers and UX Designers actually do.

Can I teach myself to be a UI/UX Designer? Do I need a degree?

Having a HCI/UX-related degree is helpful, but not absolutely necessary. If you are a self-starter, there are many ways for you to acquire and practice UI/UX skills, including user research, prototyping, interface design, user testing, etc. Many people take MOOC classes to get an initial idea and structure, then boost it with bootcamp, volunteer work, or startup gigs to get real-project experience. Having 2-3 solid projects on your portfolio is normally enough to get you going and land an entry-level job or freelance projects.

If you have experience working on adjacent domains (e.g. graphic design, industrial design, architecture, marketing, etc.), you can very well frame your previous work from a UI/UX perspective, and showcase your problem solving and innovative thinking skills.

How much do UI/UX jobs make? Can I support myself and my travels?

The salary definitely depends on the location, industry, your skill level and seniority level, among other factors. For some numbers that may get you excited, check out the US and Europe 2021 UX Salary Overview. Freelance UI/UX jobs can also make you comfortable income, especially if you work remotely in places with lower living cost. Besides the pay, UX Design is also one of the most enjoyable and satisfying jobs you can have.

Ok I am sold. How do I get started? What should I do?

There are so many great resources out there and the UX community is very generous with sharing experiences and helping each other out. Only listing a few resources here to seed your passion and get you started:

🎬 YouTubers to follow
  • Figma (abundance of official tutorials for Figma, the most design popular tool in 2021)
  • Sketch Together (the design celebrity Pablo Stanley teaching Sketch and Figma)
  • AJ & Smart (cool design agency that shares a lot on methodology and processes)
  • Jesse Showalter (hands-on design/redesign tutorials and streaming)
  • chunbuns (self-taught UX Designer, maybe you can learn something from her journey)
  • CharliMarieTV (she shares about her design journey, career, tutorials, freelancing, vlogs)
  • AonaTalks (UX researcher at Airbnb/Google sharing the research side of things)
📚 Books to read

UX Must Reads

🎨 Tools to learn

There are so many articles recommending you "Top 10 Design Tools to Master" and it can be overwhelming. It is impossible to cover all the tools in this short starter guide, so I recommend checking out this 2020 Design Tools Survey and start with what most of your peers are using:

You can definitely explore other tools for different use cases, but having these few under your belt will get you started without a problem.

Already a designer and looking to become a digital nomad?

Can UI/UX work be done remotely? What are some of the tools?

Although some activities like ideation and affinity diagramming may be done more effectively in person, being able to do UI/UX work remotely shouldn't be a surprise to people in a post-pandemic world. In this article, Tommy Dale (Designer at Wells Fargo) mentioned tools to get work done (like Zoom, UserTesting.com), and ways to get clients (like Upwork and WorkingNomads). One particular note is to get a remote job or secure a freelance project before you head onto that plane — not securing an income source is a mistake most novice nomads make.

Let's hear from some Nomadic UX/UI Designers and what tips they got.

Inspired by Tim Ferriss's book The 4-Hour Workweek like many others, Natalie started nomading as a freelance UX/UI Designer and Model. She likes to work on trains the best and get into a nice creative flow. Let's here her story:

Figma invited 3 nomadic designers to share their tips and tricks for designers on the road:

1) Secure a job/client before fleeing town (they included a few ways to get the word out)

2) Make sure there is solid Wi-Fi (the water and bread for every nomad)

3) Join online communities to find your tribe (many like-minded people to connect with)

4) Keep engaged with your clients, old and new

5) Budget for the unpredictable (by bouning between expensive and cheaper countries)

Javier Cuello (author of Designing Mobile Apps) also shared his personal tips around the logistics: where to work, what to pack, how to deal with taxes and personal finance, getting visa and insurance, etc.

Good cities for nomad designers

Commonly mentioned: Hanoi in Vietnam, Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Ubud in Bali.