The Resources I Used to Learn UX Design

It’s no secret that learning UX design takes tons of time and some serious effort. Fortunately for you (and me!), there are plentiful resources in existence to facilitate the process.

When I decided to learn UX design about two and a half years ago, I reached out to five respected designers for guidance. They dispelled tons of myths, recommended countless resources, and shared informed advice with me then that’s all still relevant and helpful for you today.

Here are the cream-of-the-crop resources that I picked up from designers and from my own discoveries along my design journey to help you along yours.

3 Books to Learn UX Design

While I’ve read a number of books to learn UX design, these texts really changed the game for me.

  1. Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love
  2. Just Enough Research
  3. Practical Design Discovery

Here are even more designer-recommended books for your reference if you’d like to keep reading.

4 Resources to Help with UX Design

  1. Nielsen Norman Group: The content on Nielsen Norman Group is well researched and well supported, which is why so many designers trust it. In fact, three of the five designers from whom I sought guidance specifically recommended it.
  2. Interaction Design: This is a great platform full of UX design courses.
  3. Medium Posts Tagged in UX: Medium is teeming with helpful articles on UX design. The majority of them are really amazing.
  4. Dribbble’s Color Search: This feature allows you to see how a color is used by other designers.

2 Articles to Learn UX Design

These are articles that helped me learn UX design.

  1. UX Collective’s 3 Rapid Prototyping Exercises to Improve Your UX Skills
  2. Verse’s 5 Places I Find Inspiration from as a Designer and What Routines I Have to Get Things Done

17 Articles to Progress in UX Design

And these are the articles that have significantly influenced my design process and ultimately helped me learn more. I’ve listed them in order of how much they’ve impacted my own design journey.

For UX:

  1. Nielsen Norman Group’s 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design. If you read just one of the articles on this list, this is the one. It comes from the Nielsen Norman Group I reference in resources above.
  2. User Brain’s 7 Step Guide to Guerilla Usability Testing: DIY Usability Testing Method
  3. Interaction Design Foundation’s Occam’s Razor: The Simplest Solution Is Always the Best
  4. Laws of UX’s… Laws of UX
  5. Verse’s A No-Bullshit Primer on UX Design
  6. UX Collective’s The Biggest WTF in Design Right Now
  7. User Brain’s How to Write Better Tasks to Improve Your Usability Testing
  8. User Brain’s Why You Don’t Need To Test with Your Target Audience
  9. NN Groups’ Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users
  10. UIE’s Are You Really Prepared for Your Usability Study? The Three Steps for Success
  11. 99designs’s The 7 Principles of Design
  12. Andrew Chen’s 5 Steps Towards Building a Metrics-Driven Business
  13. Issara Willenskomer’s Creating Usability with Motion: The UX in Motion Manifesto

For UI:

  1. Erik Kennedy’s 7 Rules for Creating Gorgeous UI Part I
  2. Refactoring UI’s 7 Practical Tips for Cheating at Design
  3. UX Collective’s Design Better Forms
  4. Prototypr.io’s 7 Rules of Using Radio Buttons vs. Drop-Down Menus

2 Case Studies for Learning UX Design

  1. Airbnb Guerilla Usability Testing
  2. My Coding Life Case Study

4 Questions I Asked a Talented UX Designer

I used to work with an amazing designer, Lina Breslav. I asked her some of my top questions about UX design and misconceptions. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. “What are your favorite instructional books or resources on design? If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?”
    These two books are great resources: The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition and UX Research: Practical Techniques for Designing Better Products
  2. “If you were to train me for four weeks to get me hired as a junior designer at a tech company and you had a million dollars on the line, what would that training look like? What if it was eight weeks?”
    Lina told me the learning process would look like this: “Million dollars not necessary. But would make things interesting. Four weeks: You would take a psychology class. You would dissect the user experiences of products created by companies that are investing a lot of money into it (Airbnb, for example). You would learn about UX research and UX design using articles, and you would read two overview books. You would run interviewing and card-sorting exercises, make wireframes from things that already exist (Airbnb) and run whiteboarding sessions. Since you have a million dollars, you could travel around the globe and interview users from different cultures. Eight weeks: You would do all of those things but for longer.”
  3. “What is one of the biggest wastes of time in UX?”
    Simply put: You cannot design well without research or testing. “The biggest waste of time in UX is designing/developing anything without research and user testing, which we do all the time because our clients don’t really always believe in UX,” she said. “It should be part of every process.”
  4. “What are the biggest myths you see in UX?”
    One big misconception about UX is that the majority of the job is just designing. “I don’t think that people realize how much of this job is communicating with clients and getting them on board,” she said. “It takes social intuition and soft skills that aren’t necessarily emphasized.”
    Another misconception is that the user is the only priority. “Being a user advocate is important, but business needs are equally as important and should be prioritized,” she explained. “Luckily, users’ needs align with business needs… or they should.”

My Design Process

In case you want to see what all of this learning has yielded for me, I have a process in place that I’m continuously iterating upon and updating. Enter: my UX Design Process Trello board. This may not make a huge amount of sense right now while you’re in the beginner stage, and especially if you’re not a Trello aficionado like me, but they’re here for you once they do.

Those are my favorite design resources. Absolutely do not feel that you have to use every one of them if you’re looking to learn UX design. Use the ones that excite you right now. There is so much out there to consume that it’s fine to prioritize what is fun, enjoyable, and relevant to you at the moment. That’s what I did.

Best of luck in your design journey! I hope that these resources are as helpful for you as they have been for me.