While there are several articles online about how to get a UX/UI design job, there seems to be little on how to stand out in the role once you get the opportunity. Operating within the design industry for over 16 years has given us the insight to provide valuable tips on succeeding in your first UX/UI design job. The recommendations below are envisioned to help new hires start their career, but could also be useful for an established designer starting a role in a new studio.
UX/UI Design Job Tip #1: Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
In our experience, new hires can have the misconception that they should know everything from day one. As a result, they may stop themselves from asking questions in case they appear not to be ready for the job. As a new designer, you need to remember that this is your first UX/UI design role. We expect that you ask questions and are curious. It’s often more concerning if a new designer doesn’t raise any queries and has issues submitting. The worst-case scenario is that you don’t ask any of your questions, get stuck and miss a deadline because of it.
Feeling confident enough to ask questions is even more critical if you think an aspect of a design isn’t working. If a design looks off or out of place, asking questions can only help you. A good senior designer will talk through their decision-making process, and you may learn something new or gain a fresh perspective. At the very least, you will understand why designers may make similar decisions in the future and show that you’re eager to learn and be part of the process.
- Don’t wait until problems occur for you to ask for help. If you’re curious or need assistance, be sure to ask
- It’s much better to ask questions than to run over a deadline
- If something appears to be out of place from your perspective, question it, speak up and find out more about why it feels weird to you
UX/UI Design Job Tip #2: Assist Where You Can
When starting your career, try to be as supportive and cooperative as you can. Doing this is a great way to get noticed in a positive light by your colleagues. That doesn’t mean working overtime and bragging about how long you worked the night before. Instead, focus on your own work first, but lookout for opportunities to help others when you can.
Being flexible is another way to support your team. For example, you may be in the middle of something but then be asked to change the direction of your design or start a new design altogether. Being flexible enough to stop what you’re doing and transition to what is needed can significantly help you stand out when you’re first starting.
- If you see an opportunity to lend a hand, go for it
- Be flexible and prepared to change projects if necessary
UX/UI Design Job Tip #3: Don’t “Noodle” On Designs
Noodling refers to the act of constantly changing minor details, switching back and forth over which design decision works best. When a designer is noodling, they’re usually unsure of their work and are avoiding feedback or delaying submission. Asking a colleague about their thoughts on a design can help you become more decisive about the direction, but one of the best ways to deal with the noodling issue is to make a decision and move on while keeping track of your design progress. After making a decision, simply make a copy of your design file and then continue in a separate file. This process will make it easier for you to move on from a decision and allows your senior designer to see your progress.
Being able to display your development of an idea provides visibility of your iterations and thought processes. As well as giving you more to show for your time, keeping various versions of your progress will also help you maintain focus and avoid a particular design falling off track. For example, a senior designer may see potential in a design exploration you had previously abandoned.
- Make decisions and move on
- If you’re stuck, ask someone for their opinion
- Package and keep old iterations as your design develops
- Grant visibility into your design progress and process as much as possible
UX/UI Design Job Tip #4: Do Your Research
At Sprung Studios, our designers are always playing games. They’re in regular contact with the game community and get excited about upcoming releases and events. This ‘Research’ should be applied to any industry or UX/UI design job you decide to take on. By submerging yourself in the industry you work in, you gain a deeper understanding of your audience and the intricacies of the sector.
For example, as a UX/UI designer within the game industry, you are a key figure in determining the most efficient way to monetize a title. If you aren’t regularly interacting with games that operate with monetized aspects, you won’t know what consumers want, what’s effective or the current trends. If you intend to grow as a designer, be sure to stay up to date on what good design looks like in your industry.
- Do industry and general UX/UI research in your own time
- Focus on learning the nuances of your sector
UX/UI Design Job Tip #5: Stay Focused
Staying focused sounds like a relatively straightforward and basic tip, but in today’s world of endless distractions, it’s easier said than done. You will have heard some of the recommendations before, but we would like to emphasize how important they can be to staying concentrated. For example, keeping hydrated and sitting comfortably upright can do wonders for maintaining your focus and drive on a project. In contrast, half slumping in your chair doesn’t do your back or work image any favours, so be sure to sit up and stay attentive.
With most designers utilizing two monitors, it can be tempting to watch a podcast or youtube video on one of them while you work. Doing this can be especially useful when learning a new method of designing or drawing inspiration. However, it can end up becoming an issue when you begin watching non-work-related content or when the content pulls your attention away from your work.
Lastly, make sure to take a break and rest regularly. While getting your work done is important, so is your health. Standing up every hour for a few minutes and stretching can help relieve the ache after eight or more hours in your chair. Getting up, walking around the office and having your eyes off a screen can also help with eye fatigue. It may even get some new ideas flowing and enable you to reevaluate your current design with ‘fresh’ eyes.
- Sit comfortably upright
- Stay hydrated
- Take regular breaks, stand up and rest your eyes
- Try not to get distracted by non-relevant content
UX/UI Design Job Tip #6: Learn That Criticism Is Part Of The Process
With art and design being somewhat subjective, there will always be times your work isn’t received well by everyone. Learn to see criticism as an opportunity to improve your work and gain experience. It’s easy to become personally attached to a design you worked hard on, but this won’t help move a project forward to the best result. Instead, keep an open mind towards the perspective of others and consider their feedback. Constructive criticism is one of the best ways to grow as a designer; seeing others’ points of view and learning from their input will only help you improve faster.
As a designer on a team, you will also need to learn how to give criticism appropriately – not just receive it. It’s important to give feedback that helps the design reach its end goal. Similar to receiving critique, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and considering the context allows you to better understand the designer’s decisions. We recommend that you ask questions to make sure you fully understand the purpose of a design before giving your critique. Asking questions is also an excellent way to inspire solutions to a potential issue and lead to a more constructive discussion. For example, instead of “I don’t like this colour choice,” an alternative could be “What lead you to this colour choice? I wonder if there’s another that may be more suited to the genre of this game?.”
When choosing to give negative feedback, make sure to identify both the good and the bad but don’t use the common ‘feedback sandwich’ approach. Alternatively, try and use the ‘Velvet Hammer’ method. Be blunt, but do it in a friendly way and make sure to highlight the areas where they have succeeded. Being genuine is the best approach, don’t dance around the issues or hide them in the middle of praise. This practice of conscious feedback will give greater value to your contributions as not only a designer but as part of a team.
- Understand that criticism is a part of the design process
- Learn to give constructive, helpful feedback
- Be blunt, genuine and friendly
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