11 Tips for Success in Your First UX Design Job

by Nick Babich

posted on 09-08-2017

Landing your first job as a UX designer is exciting. You likely put a lot of effort in creating your portfolio, interviewing, waiting, and finally, you receive word regarding next steps about an offer. Now, you can put ‘UX designer’ as your job title on your LinkedIn profile, but accepting the offer is just the beginning. Whether it’s your first professional job or you’re switching from another field (like graphic design), your first few months will be critical to your success.

So how do you set yourself up for success in your new gig from day one? Keep these 11 tips in mind to make the most of those important first few weeks:

1. Understand What Is Expected Of You

One of the first things you have to learn is the design process the company/project has, and your role in this process. Each company/project has its own UX design process, and the role of UX designer in this process can vary significantly. Thus, it’s essential to find out what your responsibilities will be. Talk to your entire UX design team, and who you will be working with at each stage:

2. Prioritize the Most Important Things To Learn

Even if your company provides new-hire FAQ documents, or even a training program, getting started can still be overwhelming. There’s simply so much to learn at once! Don’t worry too much about keeping up with everything and follow these steps when you learn something new:

3. Know Who You’re Working With

Design is a team sport and, as a UX designer, it’s crucial that you know how to effectively communicate design decisions with the team from the beginning of the project right through to implementation. Keep in mind that each team member probably sees a given project through different contextual lenses, but, as UX designer, you need to be able to efficiently communicate with all of them to identify any problems or misunderstandings.

The ability to empathize and understand the motivations of those around you is crucial. Developers, PMs, and other designers will all come with their own particular needs and goals, and if you can demonstrate that you’re interested in helping them, you’ll be well received:

4. Accept Criticism As a Natural Part Of Design Process

Criticism is an integral part of the design process. As a designer, you need to:

5. Document Your Projects As You Go

While you’re working on a project, make sure to document the process as you go. Write notes and take photos of the journey and add them to a Google Doc, Evernote, or any other tool you use for this purpose. Collecting as you go will help you better remember the information and recall it in the future when you need it. Another benefit of this approach — you will be able to use the best projects for your portfolio.

Note: Don’t limit yourself only to the project details — form a habit of taking notes for all UX-relevant findings. For example, when you’re reading an article or studying something, note down what you feel to be important. This information will help you in future.

6. Be Proactive And Identify Opportunities For Quick Wins

Get involved in the business and find ways to be proactive. As a new team player, your job is to learn as much as you can and then quickly provide value back to the company and your team. But how do you identify quick wins? That’s not hard. Ask yourself: What are areas of opportunity in which you can quickly make an impact? How can you make that impact evident? Are these areas in line with the company’s/team’s priorities?

Talk with your teammates or management to uncover gaps that you may have an advantage in filling.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes

Don’t expect that UX design will always be a smooth ride. Things are going to go wrong, but that’s normal. Instead, use these moments as opportunities to accelerate your professional growth. It’s always important to remember that you can learn more from failure than success. Thus, handle your mistakes with grace and turn them into action.

8. Develop Your Communication Skills

Communication is a critical skill for UX designers. If you can’t communicate properly at all levels of an organization then you’re going to struggle to get things done.

Focus on improving the following communication skills right from day one:

9. Work On Your Presentation Skills

The ability to present effectively to clients and colleagues is another critical skill for UX designers. Quite often, the only way to really know if your ideas are on track is to get in front of real people and see if they resonate. It’s not always easy, as it requires a lot of time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it because becoming a better presenter will make you a better communicator. As was said previously, solid communications skills are the key to creating a shared vision of your new product.

Note: When you present your work, always tie your decision-making process back to user needs and business goals.

10. Know Where To Search For an Answer

When looking for a solution to a problem, check out how other designers solve similar problems. UX Stack Exchange is a question-and-answer website for UX design. It’s a great resource for new designers who want to ask questions about any design related topics. If you have a specific question and would like to hear a frank opinions from UX experts you can ask it there.

11. Spend Time Seeking Inspiration

The world of user experience has never stopped evolving and it’s essential to stay up-to-date on the latest ideas and conversations happening in the industry. Make inspiration a priority. It will help help you better understand UX patterns and visual design. Look at design work and case studies on Behance and latest articles about design on Medium. To make yourself familiar with latest design trends, form a habit of reading a few articles on design each day.

Note: If you’re looking to add more resources to your list, check out the article 30 UX Design Inspiration Resources.

In Conclusion: Bring Your Full Self To Work

When you start something new, it’s important to be confident in your skills and abilities. Be flexible, adapt to your environment, learn new skills, and adjust as necessary. Bring your whole self to work and encourage others to do the same.

Topics: Design, Future of Work

Products: Creative Cloud