Growth Hacks for a successful UX Design career
There is no shortcut to anything in life without hard work and dedication. Some people spend entire life in one company and some experiment with different and some become entrepreneurs. This path is guided by personal metrics. Right now I feel I am in a happy space with my journey of Visual Designer to Advanced UX Designer. I am able to balance social, work and personal commitments. This is my success mantra.
The growth was not an easy journey too. Deciding to change career post-career break took a 6month time. The story of mine is synonymous with many. I am a graduate in Architecture so my inclination was towards a creative field in a corporate world. I started jotting options on a paper that already matched my current skills. Graphic Design sounded a great option and I took up a course to polish myself in software skills. UX was still catching up. Typography, art, color theory, sketching and many others were already a part of my graduate studies. Going back to a college for the master’s program was not the option.
I ‘nudged’ my approach and accelerated career growth. All decisions were based on home+kid+family priorities and it aligned well with my work commitments. I call those ‘Nudges’ as Growth Hacks. This is a term mostly used in Startup Culture and there are many ways to do it. I was introduced to this term in one of the seminars.
Many of us have entered the field of UX Design from Engineering, Content Writing, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Fashion Design, so on so forth. Mine was a similar one. Rarely people have entered this field with the notion of becoming a UX Designer, for many of us it just happened because we wanted to do more of it what we did in the past.
Setting a two-year goal:
Any skill takes at least two years to master and bring consistency. I spent two years each in every skill:
Any other professional may advance this career from Graphic to Lead with additional Social Media strategy skills. Each path is different. Ideally spending two years in ‘a skill’ gives clarity to move to the next step.
Being from Architecture background thinking from a user perspective /ergonomics/psychology was always a requirement. When I used those skills in Graphic Design, I learned more about Consumer and Brand Experience. This mindset led me to ask for more and went on to publish ‘Visual Design for Color Blind’.
Never say ‘No’ to any job:
While working as Visual Designer I did many jobs like the translator of dialogues+ voice for character animation, website maintenance and updates, social media promotions, storyboards, etc. In this way, I learned odd software and many skills and interacted with many different stakeholders.
While designing sophisticated Application research and IA activities, I also did animated videos for storytelling and user journies. Accepted project halfway, when a colleague left. Sometimes I made faces ‘ Seriously do I have to this?’ but when I actually did it, it was fun and satisfying. Doing complicated sitemaps often may be boring and opting side interesting projects enhances your learning and enthusiasm to ask for more.
Training and Certifications:
At the beginning of a ‘second career’ choice, I let go of the idea of a master’s degree course and did a basic graphic design. Then jumped on to a job with a creative agency. Every two year I took up a course/certification/workshop training related to the next move.
Before deciding, I spoke to industry professionals, managers, peers on what would be the ideal option and discussed. I also looked into the cost options, read reviews of the courses. The next decision probably is looking into workshops into AR/VR or Conversational Design or Service Design or how to write for a Conference.
Volunteer for UX organizations:
There was a hunger to meet like-minded professionals in the industry, network and understand what they did. This paved path to volunteer at the conference, meetup sessions. Bangalore, today is busy with conferences, meetups, idea sessions, workshops and company meetups. Unlike 8years back it was still catching up.
Volunteering teaches you an array of skills like social media strategy for niche marketing, compering, design graphic assets, manage the backend activities, interact with peers and hosts, etc. This also puts you in direct contact with international speakers at the venue.
Freelance projects or donate your time to help for a project:
At the beginning of my career, I did many small freelance projects. UX projects needed ample time to invest unlike Graphic Design so opted to ‘freelance’ in the company I worked for. I got many projects which were left halfway and it was unique to onboard, understand and deliver.
It builds your portfolio, learnings, and expertise. It also helps build understand that every project you do, the UX approach remains the same.
Author/Co-Author a presentation for a conference/meetup:
Well, I am still working on this part and want to do more of it. My first break came when my Manager asked me to join her. We co-authored the presentation, architected and delivered a wonderful performance at the Society of Women’s Engineer, Pune chapter, 2018 on Design Thinking for Everyday Life. This was well received.
It taught me that with great power comes great responsibility. The audience saw me as an expert on the subject which I presented. This boosted my confidence.
Sharing your experience through blogs/writings:
I read a lot of UX articles written by newcomers, industrial professionals and there is still much more to absorb. If you have anything to write, share it. Medium, WordPress, Linkedin gives you a platform to do.
You accumulate feedback to write better and reflect on comments. One can write a presentation, a small project journey writeup, the latest trends or just an experience. It’s interesting to know what others are thinking. Read what others have already said about a topic and include them in your writings.
Finding your own ground:
At the beginning of the career, we all lack clarity on how it might shape up. UX Design earlier was not a planned career for many of us, unlike now there are niche courses given by accredited universities.
It took me 6–8 years to decide what really interests me and where I can give my best. Some people choose technical and some management. Some teach and share and build the next generation and some donate their time for social causes. I chose a technical one.
With all accumulated knowledge, What’s next?:
This is a personal choice again and I decided to embark on a master’s degree journey abroad and take a sabbatical. This was not an easy decision too. It took me 6months to decide, read, talk to professionals, look into options of courses and countries before I made one.
I looked into three options for study: 1. Human Factors, 2. The Strategy of Design and 3. Psychology in Design. I weighed all the options, matched with current skills, looked into a career + future prospects, chose 2nd. It is not easy to leave the comfort of a well-paid job, social life, family and move to a new country.
Other methods to engage and enhance your career growth:
Book meetups/clubs related to UX
Join a local meetup or start your own knowledge sharing sessions
Mentor for others
Workshops, Seminar and Webinars
There is no replacement for passion for what you do and why you want to do it. Everyone is right in their own journey and how they want to mold it. I am amazed to see young professionals taking bigger decisions and making innovative products for the empowerment of others. So keep working at it :).
I hope you enjoyed reading, do not forget to put feedbacks/comments.