New to UX - What is the Best Route for Acquiring Visual Design Skills



I’m fascinated with UX, and I would like to pursue a career in the field. I have yet another question about the importance of visual design skills.

Throughout your site you’ve noted that a visual design background isn’t important for pursuing a UX career, but visual design skills are useful to acquire. In your opinion(s), what is the best route for obtaining visual design skills? I am also interested in web design. I am wondering if it would it be useful to learn web design while I’m learning UX and make me more attractive for future employment? Or, should I focus on developing and honing UX design skills before I think about learning web design because it may be too overwhelming at this time? Or, is there another route for acquiring essential visual design skills that you can suggest?

Lots of questions, I know. Any advice you can provide is sincerely appreciated.

Thanks in advance,



Hey Kim,
Welcome on board. :slight_smile:

Before addressing your questions, I have one for you. Are you currently working in or studying another field? I’m interested partly because it may tie in with UX in some way that you’re not aware of, and partly because it will influence how much time you have to study.


Thanks for the welcome, Hawk! I graduated university with an art history degree in '08, and I’ve had a checkered work history since: sales, teaching English abroad, and now conference planning full-time. Any thoughts?


I’ll defer to the UXperts for their advice, but I would definitely suggest checking out some of the online courses that we have listed here.
If you’re interested in looking at web development from the comfort of your own home before deciding whether to study formally, check out
(for the sake of full disclosure, I should note that I also work for them).


This is what I do - and it’s ok if you don’t think it will work for you - I start off by finding something I like.

Working on it/learning it makes me happy and then I find other things that I like and it branches out from there. I try not to overthink things - I go for the fun part first because I know if I enjoy something I’ll become quite good at it. UX is so multifaceted that there’s bound to be at least one element you like. You mentioned that you’re interested in web design - if you like it you could start there. Also I agree with Hawk, there are some fantastic online courses out there and quite a few that are self paced which is the best!

I hope this adds value and is somewhat helpful to you :slight_smile:


There is a book that I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s an easy read and quite enlightening. It’s called The Non-Designer’s Design Book.

Parts of the book were used as the text for the graphic design course I did years ago. I believe there’s a web-specific edition of the book available too, but the principles are the same.

My advice would be to read that first, and you’ll feel empowered to a certain degree. Then you can decide whether you’d like to invest further in expanding your visual skills, whether that’s through an online course, an in-person course, or whatever. It may be that it gives you enough to feel confident that you understand how to articulate good design and what the basic principles are. It will also help your sketching and wireframing too!

Good luck!


Hi KimberleyA! Having a chequered work history will be an asset for you - you can interface with different areas of a business with some experience. It may be difficult to head into UX without significant crossover in at least one particular area. Your sales and teaching background will possibly be most useful there.

Doodling and sketching when problem-solving can help engage the visual side of your brain. It might feel a little forced at the beginning, but if you stick with it you’ll find yourself doing it naturally. There’s no right or wrong, so go with the flow. =)

If you find yourself working in a UX role that is associated with web design, then having some basic web design experience yourself will be pretty important for understanding what is possible and how the bits fit together. There are some great web design courses available online via places like Learnable, Coursera or Udemy. Web design and UX are of course pretty compatible, so you can practice your UX skills while learning and getting experience with web design.

Some books like A Project Guide to UX Design are pretty UX focussed, so you’ll get the benefit of both. [URL=“”]The Principles of Beautiful Web Design pitches itself with the phrase ‘You don’t need to go to art school to design great looking web sites!’ and covers the basics like web page anatomy, grid theory, psychology of colour and colour palettes, typography, where to source legitimate images, file formats and resolutions, etc.

Borrowing intelligently from other people’s work (without ripping it off) is also a good way to build familiarity with layout and interaction.

Practice, practice, practice. And like ASHM said, if you’re having fun with it you’ll move a lot quicker!


Wow, this is great advice. Thank you for your responses, everyone! After reading your replies, I can honestly say I’m less anxious about my lack of visual design experience. I’ll definitely incorporate your suggestions into my personal development. Feeling inspired! :wink: