How long does it take to learn UX design, User experience (UX) design requires both creativity and technical skills in order to effectively make your product easy to use, accessible to users with disabilities, and fun to interact with. If you want to learn UX design or find an online course that can teach you how to become a UX designer, you’ll need an understanding of what it takes to learn UX design, what skills are needed, and how to study UX design on your own, and how long it will take before you have the skills necessary to secure your first job as a UX designer. Here’s everything you need to know about learning UX design.
How long does it take to learn UX design
- It depends on how much you practice
- What is your learning style?
- Are you sure you want to be a UX designer?
- Get feedback from others
- Do you have empathy for users?
- Take responsibility for your own improvement
- Practice Makes Perfect (or at least better!)
It depends on how much you practice
The more you practice, take advantage of feedback, and challenge yourself with new projects, the faster you’ll get. By practicing, I mean spending at least 2-3 hours a day on skill development. That might seem like a lot, but if you’re in school or working full time or are otherwise employed or have a family or other obligations that interfere with devoting your entire day to learning new skills, then figure out how much time you have available. At least twice a week is better than nothing; once a week isn’t enough if you want to progress quickly. But even if you can only spend 10 minutes a day on skill development, that’s still really good. And remember: It’s not about how many hours you spend; it’s about what you do during those hours. Make sure every minute counts by reading blog posts and tutorials, doing exercises from textbooks or online courses, testing out different features in software programs to see what they do, etc.
My recommendation is a minimum of 20 hours a week. That means dedicating an hour or two every weekday on your own time (e.g., morning, lunch break, evening) to working on skill development as part of an ongoing commitment—something you do regularly. The first few weeks may be slow, but if you stick with it and add more time each week (10-20 hours), then 6 months from now you’ll find yourself doing things that surprise even you. But learning new skills isn’t just about quantity; quality matters too.
What is your learning style?
If you’re not self-motivated, you’ll need more guidance and structure. This can be provided by an in-person course, a structured reading program (e.g., dummies books), or a mentor-like coach or other professional. Even if you are self-motivated, having some form of guidance will help keep you on track and make sure that you don’t miss anything important along the way. Choosing a learning style can help get you started thinking about what kind of course or resource will work best for you.
Some people are more visual and therefore like to see things illustrated with images, diagrams, or videos. Others prefer written words. Those who enjoy reading may also want books or ebooks, while those who prefer watching videos may appreciate tutorials on YouTube. Some people might like a mix of visuals and words – for example, a video explaining how to do something paired with an ebook that delves into greater detail on why you would do it in a certain way. If you’re not sure which option is best for you, just try one and see if you find it effective! That will help you figure out what learning style works best for you.
Are you sure you want to be a UX designer?
Getting into UX design isn’t easy—or cheap. Design courses are often prohibitively expensive, especially when you add in costs of living and student loans. If you want to dive into a coding boot camp, that’ll set you back anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000 per course. If you want an entire degree in a design program (like graphic or industrial design), expect tuition between $35,000 and $90,000 for four years at a public university. In addition to taking out a loan, expect between 1-2 years of learning outside of class with resources like books and online tutorials just to grasp some basics. It’s hard work!
But before you decide if becoming a UX designer is for you, there are some things you should know. First, although it’s possible to be self-taught, employers usually look more favorably on those with a degree in computer science or a related field. Second, while they’re great learning resources and make hiring easier, boot camps may not be worth their cost. They tend to focus on very specific skills like coding languages or prototyping tools—skills that become outdated quickly as technology changes.
Get feedback from others
Everyone has an opinion on how you can better yourself, and that extends beyond your friends and family. The web is brimming with opinions on what UX designers should focus on when they’re learning their craft—and as a beginner, there’s no shortage of blogs and resources at your disposal. The trick is to find someone who knows what they’re talking about, ask them for advice (and be prepared for brutal honesty), then listen. Don’t get defensive or sidetracked; take their feedback as constructive criticism from someone who wants you to succeed.
It’s vital that you develop an eye for what works and what doesn’t when designing, but in order to do so, you need something on which to practice. In many instances, open-source projects are a great place for designers—particularly beginners—to test their skills. There are plenty of free designs available on sites like Dribbble and Behance, or you can find private projects that other people have posted by searching sites like Google Code and GitHub. Some even offer small rewards for taking part! For example, the website Hot Coders offers $500 to any designer who completes 10 jobs over the course of one month. The site is looking for quality help in testing new features before they go live, but anyone willing to provide feedback will be rewarded handsomely. That’s not all: Find a mentor: Alongside networking and mentoring websites like LinkedIn and Meetup, it pays to know somebody personally if you want real career advice. Reach out to professionals via email or social media—they may not have time right now because they’re too busy, but might respond if you pique their interest enough.
Do you have empathy for users?
Being a designer is not just about making something look good. To be great at user experience, you need to be able to put yourself in your users’ shoes and imagine how they would interact with your product. And since you don’t know all of your users, conducting usability testing is essential for getting feedback from actual people who will use your product. If you can’t empathize with these potential customers, then maybe becoming a UX designer isn’t right for you after all.
If you want to become a great UX designer, you need empathy for your users. You should be able to think like them and imagine how they will use your product or service. This means being able to put yourself in their shoes, even if they come from a completely different background than you do. If you can’t empathize with your users, then user experience probably isn’t right for you.
Take responsibility for your own improvement
There’s a tendency for people who are new to UX to blame themselves when they make mistakes. If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it and then move on. You may feel bad about yourself for a little while but that’s okay; we all do. The important thing is figuring out what went wrong and trying again next time with what you learned from your first attempt. It’s important in life—and in learning any skill—to be able to fail quickly, so that you can learn how and why you failed so that ultimately you don’t fail at all. Don’t get too discouraged by small failures: Keep reminding yourself of the end goal and keep practicing. Be patient with yourself because there will be times when you’ll still struggle or even find something simple difficult. That’s natural; everyone has off days! You just need to work through those days until you start to get better, remembering that improvement takes time.
What I want to say is this: Learning UX takes patience and practice, but the best part is that once you master this craft, nothing else can ever replace it!
Learning is about quantity and quality
First and foremost, learning is about repetition. The more times you try something, and are able to ask questions along the way—or return to a subject later—the more likely you’ll have success. After having tried something several times, consider stepping back and reviewing what has worked well and what hasn’t. Keep a journal of your experiences and consider talking through them with someone else (either in person or via some sort of audio recording). Finally, if at all possible, get feedback from other people as they interact with your work; they’ll be far more honest with you than when trying an interface out for yourself. When learning something new, start small: It’s better to find a project that takes just one day or week rather than setting lofty goals that will only leave you feeling frustrated. Asking the right questions: Make sure that you’re asking not just What? but also Why? and How? In order to make sound decisions based on evidence-based thinking, it’s important to understand the data around each decision point in your process. These three little words can go a long way towards making better decisions down the line!
Practice Makes Perfect (or at least better!)
Anyone can open up Photoshop and start making changes, but if you really want to get good at UX design, practice makes perfect. It’s best to find a mentor or colleague who has experience in your desired industry, then ask them if they’d be willing to collaborate on a project with you. This can help you refine your workflow and make sure you’re approaching projects correctly. A lot of people also recommend finding an online course that suits your skill level and practicing over and over again until you feel comfortable with what you’re doing. Practice is essential for any type of career or skill, so it only makes sense that a career like UX Design would have similar prerequisites!