Finding out about the existence of UX design changed my life, as crazy and cheesy as that sounds, it’s true.

Hi, my name is Ana Lucía: a UX Designer in the making since 2018. I wanted to tell my story because it may help you grow professionally and personally.

When I first heard about UX design I was still at university. None of my classes were focused on this topic, but I kind of knew the basics. The first thing I learned about how user experience works I got by reading “The design of everyday things” by Don Norman. I found it amazing how he magnified the importance of the user in the things we design and how sometimes we as designers don’t focus on that. That’s another topic I could write about some other time.

Months later, I got the chance to start a student program at IBM for UX Design, but there was a plot twist. There weren’t any mentors that fully knew about user experience. This means, I had to self-learn and work at the same time. As a junior UX designer, you will be found in these situations often. In my opinion, these situations make you think ahead and force you to learn about how it all works. I remember my first UX projects. I would spend months on analysis and designing wireframes, but I had to be patient. I was learning about all this by reading books, blogs, and watching YouTube videos at the moment, but things were getting done, and being delivered. A year passed and I could see how much I’d grown from where I started. Things that took months to build up now took me weeks! I was really proud of myself.

When the program ended I kept going with self-learning as much as I could. I think we, as designers, are in this situation constantly: learning about new things every day. I started attending conferences. I was lucky to have a great UX designer at home, my cousin, who helped me as a mentor. He would lend me books and give me feedback on projects I was developing in my free time and on my portfolio. This was when I first experienced getting feedback. At the beginning I was afraid of it. It made me feel like some things I was doing were wrong, but I got to see this as a chance to grow. It’s not that you’re not doing things as you should. Maybe you are looking at the problem from another perspective.

I’ve learned that there’s no right formula for how UX is done. The first year I had to know the basics, the process, and every step was really important. On my next job, there wasn’t any process to follow. I would just finish designs that were half done by applying my empirical knowledge on how the user could have a better experience without any long process involved. This would frustrate me at first, but I learned how to adapt to new ways of working.

In the past year and a half, I’ve struggled with having to learn the process, breaking that process down and finishing things that were already started while having no idea what the project was about to where I am now. I could get a project for myself, help one of my colleagues on a new project and spend a little time working on some other thing. Sometimes there’s time to apply the whole process and sometimes there’s not. In all these situations the UX process could take on different shapes.

So far, I could tell you 5 things I’ve learned as a junior designer:

  1. You will never stop self-learning, and that’s good.
  2. Patience is key. As you get to know how things work, you get faster and better at doing them.
  3. The UX process is important, but it can take on different shapes and forms depending on the project. Don’t panic.
  4. Feedback is your best friend. It will help you improve your designs and also your way of thinking.
  5. Have fun! We don’t always know the answers, don’t be hard on yourself and enjoy the process.

It’s been 2 years of a lot of self-growing and learning. There have been good times, and also bad times, but always cherish and embrace them. It will shape you as a great designer and also as a great person. Love what you do, and learn as much as you can from others, and also from yourself!