or A Guide to Help You Save Some Money on Your Path to Become an UX Professional.
"There is no greater education than one that is self-driven." — Neil deGrasse
(read the previous post The journey of becoming an UX designer)
In January 2020, I decided to dedicate my time and efforts on becoming an UX professional, and by that I knew I had to learn, a lot.
The UX market nowadays is in expansion. It feels like, everyday, more and more companies needs new professionals to work on their projects, and so a lot of new job offers come to light everyday, what attracts a large number of people interested in a career shift or better opportunities on better companies.
I had a brief experience with UX back in 2015, and that's how, 5 years later, I decided to make UX my full time professional occupation. I wrote about my "journey of discovery" on this post, that I recommend the reading before this one, so it can all makes a little more sense.
After talking with a lot of UX professionals about what choices I had on learning UX and finding a job, I felt very confident about following the path of self-driven learning, and I did that for the following reasons:
- I spent a fairly amount of time doing my homework and researching about UX and what a professional should have to be considered ready for the market;
- Since there is no UX bachelor degree (yet) and it doesn't require you a diploma to work as an UX professional, you pretty much just have to prove that you have a fair knowledge on the basics (in case of a junior position), and of course that enrolling on an UX course or program or bootcamp can really speed up your entry on the market, but it's not mandatory;
- The financial investment on a certificated course (the ones that teaches UX 101 and you leave with a study case for your portfolio) can be a little high, specially for someone with limited resources (which was my case);
- And last but not least, it can also be a little tricky to find a program that really gives you everything you need to begin with, since UX is such a multidisciplinary field, and everyday companies require more and more of UX professionals (sometimes without knowing exactly what an UX role should be).
So I started organising myself, and put on a personal program for self-driven learning of UX, which I now share here with you.
Learning by yourself is simple, but not easy.
There's a lot of content to learn how to learn around the internet, but for me, the first, most valuable tip to start studying by yourself, is:
Organizing yourself is important for everything you do in life, but specially to learn. Organizing your studies force yourself to create a routine, that is what'll get us going through the hard task of not giving up right in the middle of something without ever achieving our goals.
So, there's a lot of ways that you can start to organize yourself to begin your self-driven studies, and a lot of tools too. What you're looking for, is a system where you can visualize all the TASKS that compose a GOAL, and how much you still have to get done to achieve it. That's why the Kanban method is so efficient, because it helps on "breaking" macro tasks into smaller ones and moving them around simple "TO DO, DOING, DONE" columns, so you can focus on what's planned for now, track your progress and quickly measure how much you have yet to complete.
To learn more about Kanban and how you can implement it on your study routine, I recommend this guide.
(note: I particularly prefere and use Trello as my main tool. It’s simple and functional, but can become a much more elaborated tool if you need to)
Now, once you have a good organisational tool ready, you can define your goal, define your tasks and prioritize them.
For example: My goal is to become an UX professional by self-driven learning.
My tasks are to learn all the soft and hard skills that it requires to be an UX professional, and I intend to do that through some courses that I selected.
I'll prioritize them by starting with the very fundamental skills that I need to have/understand, and then move on to more specialized skills (don't worry, we'll get there).
And then, once you have everything ready, you can start diving into your classes.
Save your money and become an UX designer (almost) for free!
(If you didn't skip the whole post and came right to this part, congratulations — and thank you!)
As an aspiring UX professional, you might know that there's a lot that you can learn. That's why I did my research not only on content, but also on the "complete UX courses/bootcamps" available, to understand their programs and which were the subjects taught in most of them.
This list was made to help you learn the basic skills to become an UX professional, and also to help you think more as a "product" person (human/user centered design) if you don't have a design background already.
Of course that there's a whole world of content beyond this humble list, but as I said before: if your goal is the same as mine, to become an UX professional, and you don't have a lot of financial resources to invest right now, this list exists to help you begin.
The most important thing to do with this list is to translate the knowledge you'll get from these courses into your very first projects. These contents will help you learn how to begin to think and talk as an UX professional, maybe in a job interview or writing cases for your portfolio, maybe with other professionals that you seek for help/mentoring. But don't forget: PRACTICE WHAT YOU'LL LEARN, and don't give up so easily. The market is huge, and there're plenty of opportunities out there for people that are trying to improve themselves! :)
Now, without further ado:
UX (free or with a low investment) Courses List
- Getting Used to the Subject (recommended for professionals that doesn't have a design background or any UX familiarity/experience)
2. UX Fundamentals (learn to think about problems from the UX POV)
3. The ABC to get things done (even as an UX, most companies will require. basic knowledge of UI, Research and related areas, so it can be a very good differential to your portfolio to show a bit of multidisciplinary knowledge on your projects)
- Wireframes and Prototypes
- Evaluating Design With Users
- Visual Elements of User Interface
- UX Research at Scale
4. Soft Skills and Nice to Have (once your working with experiences and developing solutions for people, it's good to understand better how different people and social groups think and act, and how it can affect their perception of the products and services that you're designing)
- Introduction to Neuromarketing (the consumer's neuroscience)
- Social Psychology
- Story Telling with Pixar
5. Bonus (if you want to go deeper on your learnings, understanding better the concepts of design can really help you have more background to back you up when bringing your ideas to the table and defending your projects)
And, that's it!
This post might gain some updates in the future once I keep going with my own journey and want to share more useful things that I find.
I hope to help some people that are on the same journey as me, to realize that there are a lot of ways to achieve our goals, and not only those that envolve spending lots of money or getting a beautiful diploma to hang on the wall.
That said, remember that the most important thing, whether enrolling in an expensive course or studying by your self in your own pace, is to practice and evolve with the knowledge that you'll earn.
Companies hire those candidates that stand out with how much they know, and not how they got to know.
Best of luck for you! :)
- Most courses listed on this post are from Coursera. From all the platforms that I used since I started learning by myself, Coursera became my favorite 'cause it's reliable, the usability is good (not excellent, but better than most) and the courses are from respectful institutions with very professional teachers (the way content is presented, for me, is VERY important to my self-engagement and on this platform most of professionals are university teachers, what gives me a lot of confidence on the methods they teach);
- Every course on Coursera can be done for free, you just have to create an account and enrol on the course of your choice. But, if you wish, you can pay to have your diploma at the end of every course (or sign up for an annual premium subscription, which includes the diploma to almost every course on the platform);
- No, this post was not paid by Coursera!;
- Even though I'm Brazilian, almost all courses above are not available in Portuguese or with Portuguese subtitles. I believe it's very important for UX professionals to know at least a basic of English, since every tool and methodology is applied mostly on this language, but I did some courses in Portuguese and I intend on doing a "Portuguese Version" of this post with options for those Brazilian professionals who are not comfortable yet with enrolling on courses taught in English.