UI/UX Design 101: Launching Your Design Career from Zero, No Matter Your Background

Hanif Putra
5 min readApr 2, 2023
Photo by Faizur Rehman on Unsplash

UI/UX design is a thrilling and rapidly evolving field that offers creative enthusiasts an opportunity to dive into the world of digital product design, regardless of their background. Whether you’re an experienced designer or a total newbie, a standout portfolio and compelling storytelling can be your ticket to a successful career in UI/UX design. So, let’s embark on this journey together and explore the steps to kick off your UI/UX design adventure!

Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash

Step 1: Embrace the Learning Curve
Get ready to dive into the world of design principles, color theory, typography, and user-centered design. Online courses, tutorials, and blogs offer a treasure trove of knowledge. Some popular platforms to learn UI/UX design are:

  1. Coursera
  2. Udemy
  3. Interaction Design Foundation

Remember, there’s no such thing as knowing too much — so keep on learning!

Step 2: Get Hands-On with Design Tools
To excel in the UI/UX design field, you’ll need to be proficient in the tools of the trade. These design tools will help you create wireframes, prototypes, and mockups, as well as collaborate with your team members.

Let’s explore some popular design tools and resources to learn them:

  1. Figma — Figma is a cloud-based design tool that allows designers to create, prototype, and collaborate on projects in real-time. Its web-based nature makes it easy for teams to work together, regardless of their location or device.
    Learn Figma
  2. Adobe XD — Adobe XD is a powerful vector-based design tool for creating and prototyping user experiences for web and mobile apps. It’s part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and offers seamless integration with other Adobe products.
    Learn Adobe XD
  3. Sketch — Sketch is a popular design tool for creating vector-based user interface designs, primarily for web and mobile apps. It’s known for its intuitive interface and robust plugin ecosystem.
    Learn Sketch
  4. InVision — InVision is a digital product design platform that offers tools for prototyping, collaboration, and design system management. It integrates with popular design tools like Sketch and Adobe XD, making it easy to create interactive prototypes and gather feedback from stakeholders.
    Learn InVision

Take the time to familiarize yourself with these tools, experiment with their features, and practice creating designs. As you gain proficiency in these design tools, you’ll be better equipped to tackle real-world UI/UX design projects and impress clients or employers.

Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

Step 3: Portfolio Power-Up
A jaw-dropping portfolio can work wonders in showcasing your skills and attracting clients. Focus on quality over quantity, and include a mix of personal projects, client work, and even course-related projects.

Here are a few UI/UX designers with strong portfolios that my inspire you:

  1. Samuel Medvedowsky — https://www.samuelmedvedowsky.com/
  2. Liana Kong — https://lianakong.com/
  3. Simon Pan — http://simonpan.com/
  4. Claudio Guglieri — https://www.guglieri.com/
  5. Irene Pereyra — http://www.antonandirene.com/
  6. Joanna Ławniczak — https://www.joannalawniczak.com/
  7. ToyFight — https://toyfight.co/
  8. Gene Ross — https://geneross.co/
  9. Robbin Cenijn — https://www.robbincenijn.com/
  10. Daniel Filler — https://danielfiller.com/

Pro tip: Don’t forget to explain your design process, problem-solving approach, and the results achieved for each project.

Remember, it’s essential to create your own unique portfolio that showcases your personal style and skills. Use these examples as inspiration but make sure to develop a portfolio that reflects your work and creative process.

Step 4: Narrate Your Story
Storytelling is a crucial aspect of presenting your UI/UX design projects. It helps convey the context, process, and impact of your work in a compelling manner. To improve your storytelling skills, explore the following resources:

  1. Storytelling for Designers — This article by the Interaction Design Foundation offers valuable insights into the art of storytelling for designers, including tips on creating engaging narratives for your portfolio projects.
  2. Art of Storytelling — In this comprehensive guide by Toptal, you’ll learn the importance of storytelling in presentation and discover practical techniques to incorporate storytelling into your design process.
  3. Art and power of storytelling in UX — This Medium article delves into the power of storytelling in UX design, providing examples and strategies for creating compelling narratives that resonate with your audience.
  4. Storytelling Course by Pixar— Pixar and Khan Academy have teamed up to offer a free online course on storytelling. Although it focuses on filmmaking, many of the principles and techniques can be applied to UI/UX design storytelling.
  5. The Power of Storytelling in UX— This blog post by CareerFoundry explains the role of storytelling in UX design and shares practical tips for using stories to improve user experiences.

By learning and practicing storytelling techniques, you’ll be able to communicate the value of your design work more effectively, making your portfolio stand out and helping you connect with potential clients or employers.

Photo by Daniel Korpai on Unsplash

Step 5: Flaunt Your Work Online
Your online presence can be a game-changer, so make sure to create profiles on platforms like Behance, Dribbble, and LinkedIn or even your own website. Share your work, engage with others, and participate in design challenges to show off your skills.

Step 6: Stay Curious & Keep Evolving
UI/UX design is an ever-changing landscape, so make sure to stay updated on the latest trends, tools, and techniques. Attend webinars, workshops, and read industry blogs to stay ahead of the curve.

The other way around you could find a mentor who has walked the UI/UX design path before you can be invaluable. They can offer guidance, advice, and support, helping you navigate the ins and outs of the industry. Don’t be afraid to reach out to experienced designers you admire and ask for advice or mentorship.

  1. ADPList — A global platform that connects mentors and mentees in the design field. You can search for UI/UX design mentors, view their profiles, and schedule a free mentoring session.
  2. Design Buddies — A design community that offers mentorship, networking, and educational resources. Join their Discord server to connect with experienced UI/UX designers who are open to mentorship and collaboration.
  3. UX Coffee Hours — An initiative that connects design professionals and aspiring designers for informal, one-on-one conversations over virtual coffee. You can sign up as a mentee and request a meeting with experienced designers.

Step 7: Embrace Feedback
Don’t shy away from critiques! Constructive feedback from peers, mentors, and clients is an invaluable tool for growth. Embrace it, learn from it, and watch your design skills soar.

And there you have it! With these 7 steps, you’re well on your way to forging a successful career in UI/UX design. Remember, the key to success is persistence, adaptability, and a willingness to learn. Embrace your creative journey, and let your passion for design shine. Happy designing your portfolio!

Hanif Putra @hnfpr is a Senior Product Designer from Indonesia.
Building design studio called Dream After Studio
Mentoring with me on APDList