How To Network When You’re Breaking Into UI/UX Design

How To Network When You’re Breaking Into UI/UX Design

What is UI/UX Design?

For those of us who are new to UI/UX design, there’s one thing that lies at its center — the user. Often lumped together, UI and UX are different, but there is overlap.

User interface (UI) is the point where humans interact with a computer, website, or application. Consider how you’re scrolling through this article — the touchpad on your laptop, the scroll wheel on your mouse, or the touch screen on your smartphone. The way the page works and the look and movement of the cursor all factor into the UI. Even your device’s screen and speakers are part of the user interface. To put it plainly, the interactions happen with our senses — sight, sound, and touch. And while you could consider UI specified, UX is broader.

User experience (UX) focuses on optimizing the entire experience that a person has with a product. This goes beyond their interaction with the product and includes what happens before and after using it. Now, I’m not saying UX designers need to be psychic, but it would definitely help. Designers need to understand and anticipate users’ needs and build this into how they interact with a product’s designs and features.

Take Netflix’s autoplay feature. A button appears at the end of each episode with a timed prompt to automatically play the next one. Let’s be honest — in the world of binge-watching, we were likely planning to watch the next episode anyway. This was probably the work of a UX designer. While our interaction with the product — the episode — was over, the continuous design principle of UX handled the interaction afterward and “gently” guided us to continue using the product.

The demand for UI/UX designers is there. Not only was UX designer named the 24th best job in America(opens in a new tab) for 2022 by Glassdoor, but CNN anticipates a 27% and 19% growth for UI and UX designers(opens in a new tab), respectively, from 2017 to 2027.

The Importance of Networking for UI/UX Designers

We can’t pretend that the importance of networking is exclusive to UI/UX designers. Although it sometimes feels “cringey,” the ROI (return on investment) can be massive for any career field. Networking can help you find job opportunities, grow personally and professionally, and advance your career. In fact, CNBC reported(opens in a new tab) that 70% of all jobs aren’t published publicly on job sites. That means that when you’re surfing the web for UI/UX roles, you’re only seeing a quarter of the ones that are actually available. So if you want to broaden the amount of job opportunities available to you, you’ll need to broaden your UI/UX network.

Start Early

Most of us don’t think about career development or advancement until we’re looking for a job. That’s too late. Start as early as possible. Every person you come in contact with and every experience you have is a networking opportunity. By the time you’re ready to job search, you’ll have a network of people who can give you tips, share their experiences, and even recommend available positions.

Create a Portfolio

Being a UI/UX designer is… special. It’s not like being a teacher or a doctor where people take your word for it. It’s not enough to show a degree or direct someone to your references. People want to see your work.

A portfolio is a marketing and networking tool. It shows your abilities and skills to potential employers, but it also demonstrates your talents to peers and mentors. While it’s harder for UX designers to show off their work than UI designers, having a ready-to-share portfolio is key to attracting people to your work and you, as a designer. And if you don’t know where to start, consider following UI/UX “celebrities” for an idea.

Designer Gloria Lo's design portfolio

Gloria Lo(opens in a new tab)

Skillcrush Alum, Niki Haynes' design portfolio

Niki Haynes(opens in a new tab) (Skillcrush Alum)

Designer Adrian Weber's design portfolio

Adrian Weber(opens in a new tab)

Skillcrush alum, Emily Kalweit's design portfolio

Emily Kalweit(opens in a new tab) (Skillcrush Alum)

Skillcrush Alum, Allison Green's UX portfolio

Allison Green(opens in a new tab) (Skillcrush Alum)

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