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Career Tips for Transitioning from Web Design to UX Design

DZone's Guide to

Career Tips for Transitioning from Web Design to UX Design

If you're looking to switch career paths and find a role that allows you to combine your development experience with an interest in design, consider UX.

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The UX, or user experience, design job market is experiencing massive growth. For many professionals who possess a design background, this is the perfect time to switch to a new career. There are numerous reasons why you might want to try a new career path, and transitioning from web design to UX design may be financially lucrative.

Web designers in the U.S. earn, on average, $46,000 annually. UX designers, on the other hand, earn $74,000. It’s predicted that more than 3,000,000 UX design jobs will be created in the U.S. during the next decade. These statistics clearly demonstrate that switching to a career in UX may provide job and financial security.

Web designers with rich experience in designing different kinds of web-based projects (blogs/personal pages, commercial pages, and eCommerce websites) have the most sought-after credentials in the UX field.

Interested in learning more about UX design and what it takes to switch to this lucrative and very rewarding path? We’ll take an in-depth look at the different skills and qualities you need to have to land your first job in this new realm of business.

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What Is UX Design?

Even though you can find many different definitions of user experience design, the most commonly accepted one states that UX design means helping enhance the user experience when interacting with a particular product. It involves an understanding of graphic design, psychology, and interaction design, among other things. However, every UX design project starts with a briefing followed by a lot of research.

As a designer dealing with user experience, you will spend your time working on three primary aspects: how a product looks, how it feels (or how a user feels while interacting with your product), and how usable that product is. In other words, you will work on the look, feel, and usability.

The good news is that, by working as a web designer, you already have a solid understanding of these three aspects, which should help you in your transition to UX design.

Start Off on the Right Foot

Being a web designer prior to switching to UX design can make the transition easier.

Let’s see what web and UX designers have in common.

One of the primary aspects of working as a UX designer is working on the look of a product. Web designers have a lot of experience in this field due to their work with interactive prototypes turned into usable websites, thanks to front-end and back-end developers. In addition, it’s not unusual to see web designers skilled in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and who work with coding.

In today’s digital era, web designers and web developers are not that different. The two terms are becoming interchangeable. The bottom line is that being fluid in design and website coding terminologies helps with UX.

Another common trait shared by web and UX designers is a dedication to research and problem-solving. Prior to building a website, web designers interview their clients to get an understanding of the brand and what the client wants to be accomplished. This interaction continues throughout the design process.

In a similar manner, UX designers listen to both the client and, through research, the users.

Even after the final product is released, UX designers collect user feedback and other kinds of information, which is used to redesign certain aspects of the product. This iterative process of UX design is something most web designers are aware of and which benefits them in the long run.

Are There Any Differences?

Even though web design and UX design share the same set of basic principles, there are differences. Perhaps the most important one is that UX is much more than just publishing a site on the web.

As a web designer, you make sure that websites look and feel great no matter what device the user happens to view it on: PC, iPad, smartphone, and notebook, for example. You work hard to make sure your design stands out both on a large monitor and on a small smartphone screen.

However, UX goes beyond just screen size concerns. UX must take into consideration mobile applications, desktop software, and even hardware products and retail spaces.

Another major difference between the two fields is a dedication to technology. As a web designer, it is important to stay on top of the latest information and to learn new technologies as they become available. Maybe you don’t need to know everything there is about the latest innovations tied to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but you still need to be aware of the industry developments.

In contrast, UX design isn’t as concerned with technology. Even though many of us imagine a UX designer working on a brand-new user interface of an app, this stage is just one small aspect that comes after months (and even years) of research. This is where we encounter one of the biggest issues for UX designers: their dedication to usability vs. desirability. Only the most skilled designers can provide the right balance between the two.

How to Take the First Step

Your transition from a web designer to UX designer consists of studying UX, practicing what you learn, and producing digital products that will be an important part of your CV. If you are wondering where to start, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of options available.

HackDesign is one of the well-known online resources for learning the basics of UX. Their courses consist of easy-to-follow lectures, organized systematically to direct your learning. There is also an interactive aspect to them, allowing you to test your newly acquired knowledge. The best part is that HackDesign’s courses are free of charge.

Designlab is a platform dedicated to UX and UI and designed for those who are very serious about learning UX. Mentors from sites like Basecamp, Twitter, Dropbox, and Nike guide you through interactive projects and give you feedback on your work. You even get a weekly Skype session with your mentor to talk about your project.

Conclusion

You can use your existing skills to effortlessly transition to a more lucrative UX design career. After all, you already speak the language of digital design, and you realize the importance of understanding your clients. This is an excellent foundation that allows you to join the fastest growing sector of the design profession in the world today.

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Topics:
ux design ,web design ,agile ,career growth

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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