[Updated for 2021]
Do you want to learn how to UX, but have no idea where to begin? I get it: the world of user experience design can be pretty daunting when you’re just starting out!
The good news is: most employers don’t require a formal degree in order to be a UX (or UI) designer, but you do need to at least know the basics of UX and UI design in order to be considered, along with a great portfolio (which I wrote about here). While companies are generally happy to take in interns or juniors and help them grow, they cannot be expected to teach UX design from scratch: they are still businesses after all, and not colleges or varsities that are there to teach you.
(If you’re still unsure about the difference between UX and UI design, I wrote an article explaining it here)
Luckily there are many resources online that can help you learn enough to get your foot in the door, and this article is a practical guide compiled from my own experience and recommendations.
If you’re new to the world of UX, my first recommendation would be to attend Meetups to learn from experts, as well as meet other people in the industry. Meetups are free events where groups of like-minded people get together, usually with one or two speakers for the event, where you can mingle and learn. I’ve attended Meetups with topics ranging from UX research to emotional design to advice for newbies, and they were all very insightful.
The Meetups I list here are mostly in South Africa, but there are similar groups all over the world. With current restrictions, most Meetups are now available online, so you can learn from anywhere.
She Can Do is a non-profit organisation which aims to create an inclusive environment to upskill members in crafting human-centred experiences and build a culture of knowledge-sharing and empowerment. They’re specifically aimed at helping to overcome the hurdle of people that want to get into UX but do not have work in their portfolios to show yet.
She Can Do meetup: Affinity mapping workshop (2019)
The Interaction Design Foundation is an independent nonprofit initiative that aims to provide ivy-league education at a reasonable price. This meetup is open to everyone including current IDF members: students/ Designers/ Anyone interested in understanding how design can improve humanity, business & products.
This Meetup group hosts regular events to explore User Centered Strategy, Research, Design and Testing processes, techniques, and much more. Each event features engaging presentations from experts in the field, as well as connecting like-minded practitioners from Johannesburg! Our members include UX and UI designers, product managers, developers and many more! Join this group to attend our meetups and grow your knowledge of User Experience and connect with great people in the industry.
Join our meetup group for regular talks on topics including product design, product development, product development methodologies, UI, UX, tools, software, DesignOps, and much more. Our talks are fun, with networking opportunities and QA sessions. Our intention is to create a fun, informal learning experience for all our members.
Calling all design thinkers in Johannesburg. We want to bring people who are involved with any aspect of the Design Thinking value chain to network, engage, share experiences, and learn together to enrich our experience and advance the practice of design thinking. We may even collaborate on projects together!
This an official Sketch meetup for designers and developers in Johannesburg — Organized by the peeps from mobile app development company Glucode. Join us to share knowledge, trade tips, and hear about new plugins and resources. Come along to meet local designers and members of the Sketch team, learn more about the app and have fun with likeminded people.
The aims of IxDA Cape Town is the creation of networking opportunities for local interaction design professionals and affiliates and linking them to the global IxDA community. IxDA Cape Town will provide a forum for sharing and learning through regular meetups. Other activities spurred by the meetups may include newsletters and publications, exhibitions and award schemes.
Free online design courses
If you’d like a guided approach, you can enroll in courses that will give you step by step instruction, often with assignments to complete to show you understand the material.
In this hands-on course, the pioneers of human-centered design (IDEO)will guide you through a four-step process for designing breakthrough ideas. This creative approach to problem-solving will challenge you to get out into the real world and test your ideas so you can arrive at exciting, unexpected solutions tailored to the needs of the people you serve.
This course will strengthen your existing knowledge of the human-centered design process and help you use prototyping as a low-cost and risk-averse way to get your ideas into the hands of the people you’re trying to change.
You’ll learn the methods that IDEO.org designers use to quickly bring ideas to life with prototypes, test those ideas in the field, and collect feedback and arrive at solutions that meet the needs of the people you’re designing for.
We recommend that you take Introduction to Human-Centered Design before enrolling in this course.
Presented by the Delft University of Technology: learn to design meaningful products and services in this introductory design course.
Paid-for online design courses
Learn the entire spectrum of UX design from 33 beginner to advanced courses. Get taught by industry experts and gain recognized certificates to advance your career.
- Course lengths differ; mostly a few weeks
- Yearly subscription — you can do unlimited courses within that subscription
- $10 (roughly R150) per month paid yearly (R1800 per year)
This is your path to a career in UX design. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that will have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.
- 6 month course
- Roughly $300 (R4500)
The University of Cape Town (UCT) User Experience Design online short course enables you to understand how users interact with online content so that you can design environments that meet their evolving needs. You’ll discover key UX research and design techniques, and learn how to work with stakeholders, run user tests, design wireframes, and develop prototypes. You’ll also analyse current trends in the field, and map out a professional journey for yourself so that you can better leverage your new skills to launch a career in UX.
- 10-week course
This 1-day course (presented by me!) will introduce the participant to a broad range of UX-related topics, allowing individuals and teams a shared understanding of the techniques and processes used to drive product decisions from user insights. Learn the fundamentals of UX in this interactive course which includes practical exercises showing the real-world application of the concepts we will explore.
- 1-day course
User experience (UX) practitioners with the CUA title from Human Factors International (HFI) have a reputation of being professional, dedicated to UX and armed with the latest industry knowledge and best practices.
- R31,200 Ex VAT
Books, articles, websites, and resources
A staple to read to understand human-centered design.
The Design Sprint Kit is an open-source resource for design leaders, product owners, developers or anyone who is learning about or running Design Sprints.
Considered world leaders in research-based user experience.
Open-source, open-access literature
Articles, inspiration and reviews
Laws of UX is a collection of the maxims and principles that designers can consider when building user interfaces. It was created by Jon Yablonski.
Laws of UX: Users often perceive aesthetically pleasing design as design that’s more usable.
This platform allows designers to upload their work to showcase it and/or get feedback.
Conferences are another great way of meeting interesting people and hear from various people in the industry. You learn a lot and there’s usually great food involved!
Takes place in May/June in Jhb, and in November in Cape Town
UXSA Cape Town 2018
Last but not least, we have Twitter. It’s a great platform to get bite size pieces of information from brilliant people. These are some of the people that I follow and can recommend.
Regarded as the “father of UX”, coined the term “user experience”, and has been a vice-president of advanced technology at Apple, as well as a professor of cognitive science (among other things)
Coined the idea of designing for “mobile first”, and has worked at many tech companies, including Google and Yahoo.
what you decide to measure significantly effects the product & user experience you end up with.— Luke Wroblewski (@LukeW) September 24, 2019
quick 1.5min video from my new talk on why: https://t.co/0XA8WEWes6
Future UX concepts for Android (formerly Chrome Physical Web, creative director frogdesign, Google Maps, Apple Newton, Mac System 7) Joined Google twice.
My blog post "How Video Games Inspire Great UX" is now up. https://t.co/aoXsN7LXSN— Scott Jenson (@scottjenson) September 3, 2019
I worked on it over the long weekend, trying to get the length down but there is just so much to cover. I hope you like it and please, feel free to send me comments, questions, suggestions! https://t.co/KL1Y5dyTt2
Curated stories on user experience, usability, and product design.
A weekly selection of design links, brought to you by your friends at the UX Collective. https://t.co/bokLi61WAX— UX Collective (@uxdesigncc) October 5, 2019
Accessibility advocate, UX designer, and Head of Experience at FMI
In my upcoming posts, I’ll be discussing how to put together a UX portfolio that companies can’t resist, as well as guiding you through a UX interview and whiteboard session.