Graphic designer changing career to become a UI/UX designer! Advice needed!



Hey UX people. I have come to this forum to ask you for some wisdom.

I am a freelance graphic designer by trade, and I am now considering to make the jump to UI/UX design and I am considering applying for a Masters degree in Interaction/HCI design at my local university.

I feel after working in graphic design for nearly 5 years that I am familiar with the creative process, however currently I am lacking front end development skills (something I’m working fixing on in my free time with online courses) but I don’t think I will be completely up to speed with everything by this September when the course begins.

Before I take the costly decision to enroll on the course, could someone please let me know how important it is to have front end development skills on your CV before starting a postgraduate course in Interaction design?

Ultimately I would like to possess front end development skills as I would like to design interactive apps and websites using my pre-existing skills in graphic design, I just feel it might hold me back if I start the course without being totally up to speed with it all!

I’d appreciate your shared thoughts and experiences on this!




I would contact the faculty and ask to speak to/email someone knowledgeable particularly the course supervisor:

  • Have your questions lined up ready to go particularly in areas where you have concerns.
  • They don’t usually want people to fail their courses so they should be able to give you an assessment of what is needed for you to succeed.
  • You could also ask if you can contact someone who has been in the same situation - either currently enrolled or graduated.
  • When selecting papers/options you might benefit from starting with a “scaffolding” course that doesn’t assume a lot of prerequisites, builds from an introductory level with lots of support (e.g. clear course manual, lots of examples, helpful lecturer), and early achievement to quickly expand your confidence.


Front end skills are always useful, but they are definitely not required. Don’t stress. The person you need to connect with is @leighrubin – I’ll tag her in.

This article is a good read.


Hey Remah and Hawk, thanks for getting back to me.

I took your advice Remah and questioned the course leader and I got the impression the course is more interaction design for 3D products so might not be the best road for me to go down anyway as I’m interested in designing for screen based interactions.

I’ve seen the courses available on the Interaction Design Foundation website and I think they would be a lot more relevant to me and what I want to learn. Has anyone here studied with them, how was it? It’s a lot more affordable than the UX academy course run by Designlab, but that makes me think it may be of less quality.

Thanks for the link to the article Hawk, some good points in there. I’m hoping that having a background working as a graphic designer will mean I can transition smoothly as I’m familiar with a lot of design methods!




@jonilangdale - This thread may be useful for you.

Also this thread.

I love how you are putting so much research into this. :slight_smile:


I have a completely contrarian view on this topic. I understand that my view won’t work for everyone, but I figured I should toss it in the mix.

Basically, in todays day and age, I don’t think anyone should pay for a design education. Not courses, not classes, not university classes, or degrees.

I wrote up a blog post recently where I covered my stance on this in depth. I don’t want to come across as self promoting, so I won’t drop a link, but if you’re interested in reading it, you can find a link to my blog in my profile.

I’m happy to chat more about this if you’re interested.


Hey there! You may need some bear love!

I agree almost totally with @startlaunch . There are a lot of free resources in our area. It takes time and a lot of effort, but you can do it. Perhaps, try on your own first.

We are here to help each other, so… keep asking!


@jonilangdale Glad you asked this question. First of all, let me wish you good luck with your course ahead. Now as far your question is concerned, the more you focus the more you see, so I would recommend you to start the course and simultaneously watch video tutorials of frond-end designing but don’t leave the graphic design industry because if you lose one option to avail another, in the end you will have nothing but regret. I personally started off with custom logo design services and then upgraded to 3D logos as well as web layouts design. So don’t lose hope and be consistent.


Hey all who have replied to this thread,

Thanks very much for the links and insights. I’m reconsidering my plan to go back to university and study as I feel like I have a lot of grounding in design already through my degree and work experience. I feel like following online courses starting a UX project to put in my portfolio would be the best way to get started.

I am also freelancing at the moment for an agency that creates interactive websites and I feel I am learning a lot from when I am working with the design there, even though none of them call themselves ‘UX designers’ strictly, I feel like I am learning a lot from the marketing analysts there as they are aware of what the website needs to achieve strategically which in turn, affects the design.

I suppose there is no clear route into UX, so I will need to create one :slight_smile:


So much this. I think it’s how many careers are built these days – not in UX. People have such a wide and varied range of skills and experience which they can meld into something unique.

Best of luck. Keep us in the loop.


Sorry about the late reply! Thanks @HAWK for looping me in.

Honestly @jonilangdale you do not need any definitive front end coding skills at all.
I know few IxDers that have them. I completed a few free course on Code Academy - allowing me to understand a little bit of the language devs use and giving me the ability to use Inspect element in Chrome to check when I think some thing is a little bit off. But that is all I needed. Everything else comes from chatting to devs and understanding the task at hand.

Good luck!


Some of the “big” courses offer structured feedback from peers and mentors. Is there a way to get that for free? That seems like it would be extremely valuable.

I’m at the very beginning of my UX journey and looking into which program(s) to pursue. Thoughts?