I recently completed a six month UI/UX Design bootcamp and am currently in the process of looking for a full time position. After graduating, I wanted to start diving deeper into other skills that I was interested in and would be helpful to have as a UX Designer such as coding, motion graphic design, and digital illustration.
After about a month I had the realization that I wasn’t really practicing the skills that I had learned during the bootcamp. To do an entire project from scratch can be really daunting. I wanted to add more projects to my portfolio but didn’t really know where to start. So these are just some tips and resources to help you get started. :)
Design challenges are a good way to do quick exercises that you can add to your portfolio! These challenges can range from redesigning a landing page to a microinteraction. A microinteraction may seem like a really small exercise that doesn’t really help you refine your skills as a UX Designer. I believe that all design decisions should be research based so even when it comes to a microinteraction you can ask yourself user based questions while keeping an imaginary client’s values and overall feel in mind. You may not be creating deliverables such as a competitive analysis or a user persona but to be honest…. why not?
Here’s a list of some places you can get design challenges from.
Designercize is a gamified approach to design challenges! It randomly generates a design challenge for you and it’s difficulty and timer can be adjusted.
2. Behance Live
Behance is the love of my life. It’s an amazing place to find inspiration AND they offer basically free tutorials in a variety of creative practices! They have design challenges for each and they usually are done in week long sprints with creative professionals. I mean if that isn’t awesome, I don’t know what is.
DailyUI sends you daily creative challenges to your email for free.
There are tons of books and articles out there that are recommended to UX Designers. These are just a couple of recent ones that I’ve read.
- https://thefutur.com/ : This isn’t an article or book but there are a lot of helpful articles, podcasts, and videos. They also offer a bootcamp!
Enroll In Courses
If you’re someone like me who has a hard time guiding themselves through the absolute unknown, I would highly recommend enrolling in a course to help you get started. A lot of the time you don’t know what you don’t know so to at least get yourself some sort of a foundation through a course is really helpful. There are a lot of bootcamps and courses that you can enroll in but there are also free ones! I’ll list some bootcamps that you can also check out alongside free course sites.
Ah, yes. Of course, General Assembly is on this list. I didn’t attend GA myself but I’ve actually heard some great reviews from people that have. They’re a bit pricey but if finances aren’t a huge issue I would definitely recommend looking into them.
Thinkful is also a bootcamp. They offer a variety of payment plans which is really helpful for those that are financially in a tight spot. They even have an option where you get a living stipend for the time that you’re enrolled! THAT’S AWESOME.
Coursera is a great place to find free courses. This one in particular is offered by CalArts and is completely free!
This course on SpringBoard is actually taught by a GA instructor and it’s free. :)
HackDesign sends out a design lesson for free every week that’s curated by real design professionals.
Volunteer Work / Hackathons
All the resources I listed above are really done on your own but in the field designers are always working with someone. That could be another designer, an engineer, or a client. So I think it’s really important to also practice your soft skills alongside hard skills.
As a new designer freelance work can be really daunting which is why I would recommend doing volunteer work and hackathons first. I only recommend that because through volunteer work your client would most likely be more willing to allow you to bring other people onto the project so you’re not designing alone.
Catchafire matches professionals to mission drive organizations in need. It’s a great way to contribute to society and get some experience in!
Volunteer Match is essentially a job board but for volunteer opportunities.
I haven’t found any specific sites to enter hackathons but you can search for them on Eventbrite. General Assembly hosts hackathons from time to time as well. UXResult also hosts hackathons.
HUMAN INTERACTION IS VERY IMPORTANT. As an introvert, that’s something that has become very apparent for me during quarantine. These are some Slack communities that you can join to ask questions, get feedback, and even start mock projects with other designers.
- Bitesize UX
- Designer Hangout
- Hexagon UX
- The Designership
- Women in Tech
- Ladies that UX
- Queer Design Club
- Out in Tech
Thanks for reading! :) 🌼