How to kickstart your UX design career

Posted August 10, 2020, by Bronwyn

UX design quietly entered the scene in the early 1990s, but in recent years it has exploded into a number of industries, partnering with IT, marketing, innovation and even operations. Not surprisingly, user experience is woven into the fabric of just about every touchpoint, so a UX design career has become an attractive proposition for many. If you constantly find yourself evaluating apps and re-engineering web projects – you might be well on your way to becoming a UX designer.

What does a career in UX design entail?

So what does user experience look like in practice? A UX designer is tasked with balancing the user, business and technology to deliver an experience that serves the company function. The role is quite a collaborative one, requiring buy-in from many stakeholders, and communicating the vision through flow charts, wireframes and other tools to test and tweak the experience. A UX designer will typically work as an app designer or will work on web projects. While they engineer the route and experience of the user, a successful UX designer will be skilled in other adjacent areas like web development, data engineering, agile methodology and experience in application software.

How to kickstart your career

Given that UX is a relatively new concept for some, there isn’t a forged path for new UX designers to take. A good place to start would be to identify yourself with the key players in the UX space, whether that is an agency, freelancer or a community of professionals. You might also want to familiarise yourself with some award-winning designs and critique them to gain a deeper understanding of why they are so revered. There are several UX designer courses you can do, both formal and casual education styles, so read some position descriptions to understand what the UX design qualification requirements are.

Another consideration would be to know where you want to work within the UX design landscape – mobile apps or web. Knowing this will allow you to start your education process, and field interest from relevant agencies. If you don’t have an IT or design background, don’t be disheartened, but you might want to anticipate a steep learning curve as there is quite a lot of assumed knowledge in UX design.

Build a portfolio

You don’t need clients to build a portfolio, you only need projects. Your portfolio is your resume in UX design, so you are going to need to start working before you land a role. Task yourself with a project brief that has robust KPI’s and a clear (and perhaps imaginary) target audience. From there, you can begin to conceptualise your app or web project, building a user experience that is valuable and seamless to the audience you are pitching it to. Take your time with the testing phase and document each step, as your future employer wants to see how you arrived at these decisions and how your plan stayed on-brief. 

Research the tools UX designers use so that your portfolio can be easily interpreted by UX designers, also showing off your expertise in using these industry tools and programs. If you have your heart set on one agency or niche in particular, have your project speak directly to the clients and projects that the agency typically works with.


If you are looking for a career that literally focuses on improvement and experience, you will find that in UX design, with your craft continuing to perfect with each pitch and project. It doesn’t matter what training and career you have come from, you can enter the UX design industry but will need to immerse in the language, infrastructure and tools that will make you successful.


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