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How to advance your UX design career from beginner to intermediate

In this guest post by Kimberly Deese, learn how to level-up in your career as a User Experience Designer, and build out your 5-10 year career plan.

There may not be a clear path between a beginning and an intermediate UX professional—but there are some subtle differences. What skills do you need to progress in your UX mastery? Should you create a five and ten-year plan to achieve your UX career goals? And what are some ways you can elevate your skills for advanced UX work? What UI design articles can help you move your career forward?

In this article, we’ll be sharing some effective ways to take you from a Junior UX Designer to a Senior UX Designer.

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by Lily for Fireart Studio

Search is like a conversation between the user and system: the user expresses their information need as a query, and the system expresses its response as a set of results. Search is a fundamental activity and a critical element of building a content-hea...

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UX design skills you need to master

When moving forward from UX Intern or Junior UX Designer, there are a few specific work skills and experience that you need to have under your belt:

  • Working on your own, without a Senior UX designer’s supervision
  • Be able to work with a client
  • Advance skills to be able to work within the confines of a current design
  • Know Jira thoroughly
  • Be able to make adjustments according to customer needs
  • Experience working with small startups
  • Be confident and skilled enough to tell the customer what they need
  • Create and deliver mockups in a timely fashion

Don’t forget to continue to improve your skillset in User Experience as well as soft skills like presentations and strategy. This means having working knowledge of tools like Zeplin, Brackets, Webflow, Bonsai Adobe XD, and even Dropbox.

In addition, your UX portfolio should include some solo projects, as well as a cornucopia of projects that reflect your knowledge of many UX tools. Don’t forget to include completion certificates from seminars and other in-person or online courses you’ve taken to advance your UX design skills.

This is a good time to take a quick critical eye and determine any gaps you may have in your education. Are you skilled in all platforms? Remember that you need to have a good understanding of UX design for email, mobile (iOS & Android), and web. A good review of your UX resume could help you determine what gaps you need to fill to get to the next level of your career.

Create your 5 and 10-year plan to get there

Planning the next five to ten years of your career can seem daunting. But having a good understanding of where you are now and where you want to go will help you fill in those steps.

Where you are now

First, you need to look at where you are now. Look at your current resume and your portfolio. What does it say about you?

  • Are you up to date with the latest UX tools?
  • Have you worked on any projects as the only UX designer?
  • What platforms have you worked on?
  • What are your favorite types of projects?
  • What is your weakest skill?
  • List your current set of tasks
  • What is your current job title?
  • What do you want to do less of?

Answering these questions can help you figure out how to get to the next step. If your job title hasn’t changed in five years, how do you change it? Ask a colleague what they would recommend you should do to take your skills to the next level.

Interview someone who has the job that you want. What sorts of skills do they possess that you still need to learn? Do they have different educational experiences? Don’t forget to ask what they would have done differently, or what skill they wish they knew now.

Figure out what job you want. Do you have a dream job that you have always wanted in UX? Then find out what skills and types of projects will give you the experience you need to get to that job goal.

Map it out. Figure out what skills you need to learn and start marking them out in a calendar. Find classes and sign up. Set time goals to complete these courses. Next, ask your own establishment how you can work on solo projects. Let them know you are ready. Don’t stray from your goal. Real life happens. Pick one day every month to evaluate where you are and what you have accomplished.

If you are behind in learning a skill, then adjust your calendar. Figure out what you need to do to get back on track. Perhaps you need the accountability of a live class. Perhaps you need to rethink what it is you really want.

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by Loris F. Alessandria

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How to level-up your skills for advanced work

Critical thinking, data interpretation, and working well with others are some of the necessary skills you need to reach an advanced level of UX. These are skills that need to be honed over a period of time. Working with a mentor or a senior UX Designer can help you work on these important skills and give you the one-on-one attention you need to grow your UX and UI design abilities.

Critical thinking, data interpretation, and working well with others are some of the necessary skills you need to reach an advanced level of UX.

You’ll also want to stay current on the latest trends and techniques in the UX industry. Join a local or online professional organization and subscribe to UX publications like Adobe XD Ideas and Smashing Magazine. Reading UI design articles, watching videos on trending UX design techniques, and listening to podcasts that talk about UX career advancement are all good avenues to advance your knowledge and skills.

Ask questions and find out how others have achieved these goals. You don’t need to overhaul all of your skills overnight. Trying to become one percent better every day will bring steady progress to success.

No matter what your UX dream job is, make sure you take the time to reflect and evaluate what you have already accomplished. Then, map out where you want to go. With a good plan, you can achieve your user experience design career goals


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