Learn by Doing
To talk about User Experience is completely different from doing User Experience. Yes, it’s still important to read up about on the basics, methods, and principles of UX design. But experiencing it firsthand will significantly help you understand User Experience better. There are just some things that reading a book can’t teach you. Take interviewing a user for example. You just ask the right questions, take good notes, and record your interviews for reference. It sounds easy enough right? But if you actually conduct an interview, you’d realize that there’s so much that goes into getting the right people, scheduling the appropriate time & place, finding ways to keep the conversation on track, being mindful of your tone and body language, and so much more.
I suggest making your own small projects. It’s ok if you don’t earn from them. You just need to start getting into the experience. Try asking friends or family who have their own businesses and offer to help them out for free. By doing this, you are forced to learn as you go along and get valuable insight from the mistakes you make. You then develop a mental checklist of things you have to learn which you can use to help guide you in your progress.
Find a Mentor
There were moments when I felt lost and unsure about what I was doing. Even now, I still have those moments. This is where having someone who understands where you’re coming from and what you’re going through helps. I was lucky to have my UX professor as one of those people who I can talk to. During my first months starting out, she would give me feedback on my progress and help me figure out where I should head to next. Thanks to her, I was able to decide on what things to prioritize in order to get to my goal and keep me in check whenever I feel like I have no idea what I should do
I suggest that you look for someone who is reachable and responsive. It’s also helpful if this person has a connection with you in one form or another in order to have a richer understanding of where you’re coming from. These people will serve as your compass to help you in being successful in this field.
Network Like Crazy
There are just some things that you can only talk about to fellow UX practitioners. Being a rare breed, its important to keep close ties with people who are on the same boat as you. Be it within your community or all over the world, it always helps to have a strong support network of like-minded individuals. This also helps you test out your knowledge and know what else you can improve on. I personally try to attend as much meetups as I can and be a part of as much online groups as possible. It’s in these connections that you can share experiences, best case practices, and advice that are hard to find.
Find ways to get in touch with your UX community. If there aren’t any events or any activity happening then don’t be afraid to initiate. It can be intimidating but you can always start reaching out to one person at a time. Even a simple email goes a long way. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and speak your mind out. Make sure to make the most out of every opportunity because oftentimes, its in these experiences that we get to meet people who may end up playing a significant role in our careers.