Busting myths about a career in UX


There are so many misunderstandings and misconceptions around what is required to get into UX as a career, and I thought it might be useful to bust a few of those myths.

The one that I hear the most is that being able to write code is a pre-requisite. [B]You do not need to know how to code[/B] in order to get into a career in UX. It’s valuable but not essential. A practical understanding of how a site is put together is useful, particularly when it comes to communicating with developers. If you want to learn, a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS would be a good place to start.

What myths or misconceptions have you come across?


A big UX career myth I’ve come across is that [I]anyone can do UX[/I]. I’ve been guilty of propagating that one myself in the past, but after carefully questioning myself here’s why I think [B]not everyone can do UX:[/B] [LIST=1]
[]Some roles are mutually exclusive of UX interests: In the most common team configurations, the UX role seeks to foster a healthy, balanced tension between business stakeholders, creative design work and user needs. Until we better determine how business goals can be fairly juggled with opposing user needs, or how a visual designer can innovate freely within specific constraints of usability or a detailed context, we’ll still need someone to stand apart and argue the case for the user perspective. Being ‘UX savvy’ is also different from ‘doing UX’.
]You need pride in UX as a discipline: if you want others to take it seriously, not only do you need to take it seriously too, but you need to clearly articulate the benefits.
[]Aptitude plays as strong a role in UX as with any other job: Not everyone has the soft skills or the interest needed to wear the hat.
]Not everyone has access to the minimum required project resources: At least [I]some[/I] time for research and testing is needed amongst the design work, or the ability to benefit from it via an iterative approach. Perhaps almost any business could benefit from some form of user-centred thinking, but I’ve heard too many tales of woe from people in unsupportive or unsuitable workplaces to say that they’re actually able to get on with doing UX in their job.
[/LIST] Having said all that, I don’t intend to be elitist or discouraging. The barriers to entry are low, the roles are in demand, and lots of people have related skills that will help them to transition into UX. So while others may be unsuitable or be excluded by definition the door may well be wide open for you to take the plunge.


Agreed. And I think you have to want to get into it for the right reasons. You need to have a genuine curiosity for how people think and you need to actually want to make things better and easier for people.


Ok my biggest myth is: [B]You must have a portfolio. [/B]

I don’t have one and it’s never been an issue. For me it’s always been about the conversations with the potential employer- that’s how I communicate my thought process and value.


That’s an interesting one @ASHM – mainly because I always tell people that the DO need a portfolio. I stand corrected! :slight_smile:
I’d be interested to hear your further thoughts. Do you think your experience would be the norm?


That is a very interesting question @HAWK

I recently went through a job hunting process (and am starting a new role on Feb 8!!! :)) and not once was I asked to show a portfolio.

It was mostly about sitting down and having conversations with potential employers and some even ran design activities and challenges to get a feel for how I think- I thought that was really cool! It was about getting to know each and having the opportunity to ask questions (both ways).

I spoke with three different organisations and whole bunch of recruiters and the topic of portfolios never came up. My CV was needed and my LinkedIn profile played a huge role but other than that it was all about the talking.

It might just be me, it might be related to my location or it might have something to do with the volume of articles I’ve had published- maybe that’s my portfolio. Maybe that’s what communicates my thought processes and value.

I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this one.


ASHM, that is very interesting! When I see UX roles advertised online, almost every ad says that you need to attach a portfolio with your application, and I thought it was mandatory for all roles. It’s fascinating to hear that you have had a different experience.

I’m also wondering if anyone (particularly people who have experience hiring UX designers) can tell me if it matters WHERE you studied?

My qualifications are only a certificate IV in graphic design (an Australian qualification which is like a trade/vocational certificate), another certificate IV in business, and I’m completing the Career Foundry online UX course. No degree. I’m living in a relatively conservative country (Switzerland) and I’m worried I won’t be able to compete with people who have Bachelors’ or Masters’ degrees.


This is a great thread. With a few more myths busted I think we should turn it into a blog post! Hmmm, let me think …


I’m Australian - I know what a cert IV is and I personally think they’re awesome! They give you hands on experience and teach you valuable real world skills. Not that I’m in a hiring role, but maybe it’s a matter of how you communicate your value to potential employers? Maybe it’s about selling the benefits of further education of the vocational variety?

It’s funny- here in Australia university degrees are nowhere near as favoured as they used to be. Based on conversations with friends and family, in some Australian workplaces having a degree is actually looked down upon because some people feel that university graduates are entitled, out of touch and know nothing. On the job learning is valued the most here and some organisations have even started removing degrees as a requirement for their entry level programs. It’s interesting.