by Jenn Downs

26 Jul 2015

How do I get into UX?

Not a speaking engagement goes by without someone asking me how to get into UX. I take their card, I mean well. I might send them a list of books or articles to read. I might tell them the story of how I found a rocket ship of a startup. How that startup took a chance on me as their first support rep, and helped me shape my career with amazing support and on the job learning. I don’t think that happens very often, so I hate telling people that in answer to their question. How do I get into UX?

I haven’t answered anyone who asked after my last speaking gig because I’ve been trying to find a better answer to their question. There are days where I want to say, “Look, some days I still feel like I’m faking it till I make it, so ask someone who did this a more traditional way!” There are days I want to say, “Are you sure you’re ready for a specialized career path? Because it’s tough sometimes.” There are days I want to protect our turf and say “I know enough people looking for these jobs already, so back off.” Some days I’m nicer than others.

But what I think I should say is this, “It all starts with watching someone use your site.” That’s it.

It’s nothing elaborate really. If you want to get into UX, just call up a user - any user will do - and say, “Hey, can I watch you work sometime?” Or if you’re making something new, just ask someone - anyone will do - to use what you’re creating. Your recruiting demographics don’t matter in that first session. If UX is right for you, you’ll be hooked from the first session and you won’t be able to do anything else. That curiosity you feel, the need to know more - that’s what’s going to get you into UX.

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