While design is often seen as “a matter of taste” (by people who don’t often design things), user experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) design are two different things: It’s not just about what looks good, it’s about what functions well and creates an engaging, smooth experience.
How do you train someone for that? In this article, you’ll find the foundations of what you need to include in any training for people who want to get into the field of UX or UI design.
1. Determine What Tools Are Important
There are plenty of UI design tools out there, so which ones will you be including in your training? Unless a learner wants to focus on some specific tools, go with the most popular ones. Make it a mix of actual design tools, tools for UX testing, collaboration and wireframing.
2. Find Out What Their Goals Are
Before you start the training, sit your aspiring UX or UI designer down and ask them what they’re hoping to get out of this.
Even though they are just starting, it’s important to have this clear right off the bat, to create a hyper-relevant training program that will benefit them for years to come.
Knowing a designer’s dreams will help you tweak any assignments and make your course stand out from the crowd.
3. Pinpoint Learners’ Weaknesses
Assuming they’re not starting from scratch, they may already know their strengths and weaknesses. It’s time to define them even more.
You want the training to be efficient, meaning you can brush over parts they’ve proven to have mastered already, and spend extra time on the things they struggle with.
For instance, someone might be a pro at using all the right tools for UI design but struggle with interpreting briefs. In that case, you know to focus on teaching them how to ask better questions to get a more clear idea of what they will be designing.
4. Make a Training Roadmap
Create a plan for the training, with important milestones that are linked to their goals. Of course, the last step won’t simply be “becoming a UI designer” — there are steps in between.
A learner’s training roadmap should be tailored to their current skill level, goals and weaknesses, but here’s what it should definitely include:
- Conducting their own UX/UI research: Even if, down the road, someone else will be doing this for them, it is important that they know how these conversations with consumers and users go, and what kind of answers you get from specific questions and scenarios.
- Creating a full UI design kit: Maybe they want to focus on apps — but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t learn how to translate specific UX principles to a website and vice versa. You can learn a lot from creating a full UI design kit and having to implement your knowledge on all different design aspects.
- Collaborate with the people who bring your designs to life: It’s one thing designing something, it’s another thing having to communicate to developers what it should be doing in real life. Since usability is such an essential part of UX and UI, knowing how to communicate how the elements in your design should be functioning is a crucial step.
- Create a design brief: This will teach learners what questions to ask clients in the future. Sit them down and have them figure out what they need to know to make the best designs possible.
5. Go Back to Basics
If an aspiring UI or UX designer has already covered a lot of the design basics, have them prove that in their training. These core principles might be easy to list out loud — but actually using them and mastering what they mean is another ballgame.
Think about UX principles such as limited choices, clear mapping, consistency and affordance, and create training around showcasing these.
For instance, you could present them with a design that has flaws when it comes to these basic principles. Let them find the flaws, and then fix them.
6. Teach Proper UX Research Techniques
The fun part of being a UX designer? You get to work based on what users actually want and need, meaning there will be research and interaction with them.
The hard part of being a UX designer? You have to work based on what users actually want and need, meaning there will be research and interaction with them.
It’s crucial designers learn how to collect feedback for their prototypes. Teach your students how to test usability, run surveys and read the results and how to test ideas and concepts in an effective way. Don’t forget to cover rapid prototyping as well.
7. Don’t Just Focus on the Design
One important thing to know about the profession of a UX or UI designer? You can’t do it alone. Marketers, product owners, developers, copywriters: UX designers will be working together with all of them, and then some.
That’s why training for UI and UX designers shouldn’t only focus on the UX research and design part: It’s paramount to work on interpersonal and soft skills.
What does a great brainstorming session look like? How do you present ideas? What are the best ways to communicate when working asynchronously?
On top of that come a lot more project-management-related skills, from problem-solving to understanding businesses. Of course, it doesn’t need to be a whole other area of study, but it’s important that designers realize what they’re contributing to and learn at least the most important vocabulary and challenges.
Last but certainly not least, it’s crucial that designers learn to set up a clean and organized workflow.
8. Make Processing Feedback a Big Part of the Training
Designers are getting feedback left and right. From users, from marketing, from the CEO who once read an article on design and from developers who say they can’t make something work.
That’s why it is incredibly important to include a big chunk of feedback training in the UX or UI training program. Teach participants how to ask for feedback, how to interpret it and react to it — and also give it: It’s a two-way street after all.
9. Leave Learners Room to Develop Their Own Style
One of the dangers of training aspiring UX or UI designers is that you might kill their style with restrictions on assignments and training. To prevent that, make playing around and discovering what they like a big part of the training.
This could mean having them make mood boards of designs they like, or even recreating designs they love to see how they came to be.
Have them step out of their comfort zone every once in a while by asking them to design something in a style they despise — they might still pick up a thing or two from it that they can use in their own portfolio.
10. Have Fun!
Design — when done right — is one of those careers that can be a lot of fun, so make sure your training sets participants up for a healthy obsession with their profession. Show them how they can impact lives and businesses, as well as how they can use it as a great outlet for their creativity.