Where Do I Go Next?

getstarted
training

#1

Hello All -

I’m currently a Business Analyst (3 years) and I’m looking to make the leap into UX. Since the start of this year I’ve been slowly gathering research and learning bits and pieces of UX as I have time. At this point in my journey I’ve hit a wall as to where to go…or where to really ‘start’. I’ve done a lot of research and have a bunch of resources (book recommendations, training sites, portfolio inspiration, etc.) but was wondering if there’s a good way to just jump in? I know I’ll learn the most by doing, not just reading but where do I begin? I’m a bit overwhelmed with not knowing exactly which techniques to start with, things like that. Should I start with a fake project? I’d prefer to not join a paid course at this point because the amount of time I have available fluctuates greatly (young children!).

How did you get started on your path?

Any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
-Sean


#2

Hey Sean,

It’s perfectly normal to feel like this in the beginning. Congrats on getting started!

There’s no right or wrong path, and it depends a lot on your circumstances, resources and own goals. I think this video gives a very good first-time explanation:

But to take into account that yes, you’ll need a portfolio if you want to apply for UX roles at some point. So nothing wrong with getting started with fictional projects and slowly progressing through projects involving real business constraints ( you can work pro bono for a cause you’re passionate about, help non-profits, charity, etc).

Not going to lie though, this will take a fair amount of time. Even if you don’t want to pay for a course (maybe you could go for something self-paced?), you should be able to dedicate some of your time consistently to develop these skills.

Best of luck in your journey.


#3

@AnaSantos Thank you for the feedback! I have small pockets of time each day to continue to learn and luckily I can start to pull some of the methods I’m reading about into my current job. My boss is a developer so that makes things a little tricky as he has the final say but so far he’s been open to some UX principles (as there’s not really much thought of UX in my current work place). If I can begin using it in the real world that’ll definitely help speed up my progress.

I’ve also been shown a couple of non-profit sites (thanks @Piper_Wilson) that I’m excited to dig into. Slowly but surely I’ll get there!

Thanks again
-Sean


#4

Hey Sean,
It can be daunting, I hear ya!

If you learn by doing I’d suggest taking a few different (short) online courses which cover the basics, and any areas of interest that you have.

That will build your skills and potentially give you something to add to your portfolio. Piper’s suggestion (at least I’m assuming this is what she suggested) of doing some pro-bono work for a non-profit or a school in your area is a brilliant way to gain experience, build your portfolio and help someone else out.

You should join us on our 100 Day Sketching Challenge as well. It’ll be a fun way to upskill both your sketching and your knowledge of UX terminology.


#5

Some of the work I have in my portfolio has been described as Business Analysis. Are there things you’ve done in your past life that are applicable?


#6

Hi Sean!

You and I have similar backgrounds and pain points, so I’m happy to share my journey and a few recommendations!

I have been in business analysis for the past 4 years, having made a career change from consulting. I have an 8YO daughter, and I can’t afford to go back to school at this point, so I’m learning all I can around being a busy parent! Sound kinda familiar? :slight_smile:

  • I started exploring UX a few years ago.
  • Took free online classes and read books / articles.
  • Started going to local UX meet-ups, meeting and talking to others in the industry.
  • Had an Accountability Partner for a while - we would check in with each other every 2 weeks, discuss our goals and then if we met them over that 2 week period. If not, what could we do to improve?
  • As Sarah Doody suggests, make a list of problems you spot around you, and pick one to start digging into. Does not necessarily need to be a problem with a digital product.
  • I listen to Stephen Gates’s podcast, and he talks about building your personal brand. So I keep that exercise up, and it has evolved over the years. I can see my progress, which helps!
  • The online course that gave me that “A-HA!” moment was the Introduction to Human-centered Design with +Acumen / IDEO.org. It’s a class that is on a set timeline, and they encourage you to do this with a group. But it walks you through a HCD project and you see the full cycle. I started to see how it all fits together and when you use some techniques over others. I highly recommend this course, and in fact, if you need someone on your team, please message me! They only offer the course a couple times a year. I’ve taken it twice, and I learn something new every time.
  • As you said, you need to put this stuff into practice. I’d recommend starting with smaller things, like heuristic reviews of websites and apps. Put them into blog posts and ask for feedback from people (like on this forum).
  • I found other like-minded people online and started a project with them. We have a slack channel set up, and get on Google hangouts once a week to talk progress and tasks. We’re at different levels of skills, so we all help each other and try out different things. It’s a great learning experience!
  • I follow TONS of UX people on Twitter. I find someone into UX and I add them to my UX Research or UX Design list. I’m @mariewilliamsux if you want to look me up.
  • It has been my experience working in software development teams as a BA the last 4 years that if there is not a UX researcher or designer on the team, then those needs are met by the BA, who does not necessarily have the skills or the perspective. But that’s your in, that’s how you can put what you learn into practice. If there’s not already a UX person on your team, if you’re a BA that works with software teams, then you can fill that role.
  • One of my projects on my portfolio was done when I was a BA, and I didn’t even realize that I was filling the UX Researcher role until years later.
  • I would recommend the book “Designing Your Life” - which takes you through applying design thinking to finding what direction you want to go in your life. Not only good for career direction, etc, but also great job hunting / networking / informational interview advice.
  • Do Informational Interviews with UXers or people who are doing the job you wish you were doing. Ask them about the good stuff and the not so good stuff. Start with someone you already know and ask for referrals to others.
  • I subscribed to Interaction Design Foundation for a year and took LOADS of classes! There’s video classes, text-based classes. They give you certificates after you finish the courses, but the certs are only accessible as long as you keep up your subscription. I would highly recommend IDF as a good way to take your skills to the next level.

EVERY DAY I think, what can I do next? What can I read? Where am I falling short?

I am happy to help others on their journey! If you ever want to talk or ask more questions please feel free to send me a direct message or find me on Twitter.

Take care and best of luck!
~ Marie


#7

Just comparing what I’ve done in my current position I don’t think I have the type of work that’s needed for portfolio pieces. I don’t have much in terms of personas or user research. UX hasn’t really played much of a role in the work the developers do (and I report to them…weird!) so I’m working on opening up that box and showing them the user side of things. Hopefully then I’ll be able to apply some UX ideas into future projects.


#8

@HAWK Thanks for the tip on the sketching challenge. I checked this out and it definitely sounds like a good way to learn and improve! I’ll be joining, hopefully in the next couple of days, and catching up.


#9

@marie_williams01 Thank you so much for the time you put into your response. There’s a lot of valuable information in there! It looks like there’s another IDEO class starting on Sept 11. I just enrolled…no idea what to expect though! I have to run at the moment but look for a message from me soon! Thank you again for all of the info!

-Sean


#11

I’m sure this is found in another topic (don’t be offended if it was any resources you gave me…I haven’t read everything yet) but what’s a good number of projects in the beginners portfolio when interviewing for the first time?


#12

I’m not sure there is a definitive answer here. I’d go for 3 very well documented ones if it were me.


#13

@HAWK Thanks. That’s what I was hoping for (as opposed to 10+ haha)