UX Design is a Craft

Nowadays it’s easy to learn the lingo and the approach of user experience design. It just takes an (online) course or two, and a few books. This teaches you the basics – so you are told. Unfortunately, it will not turn you into a UX designer.

UX design is a craft. And a craft needs practice and real-life practical experience. Without practice, you are just playing UX design. There is no substitute for hands-on, practical experience.

Made-up projects demonstrate that you know the steps of the UX design process. And that you can apply design methods. They show your method and process knowledge. They show that you know the basics and that you know the moves. But they cannot replace practical experiences. 

Product development is a team sport. User experience design is not practiced alone. UX designers are part of a team, their work contributes to a larger whole. Negotiations, the back and forth, the learning from mistakes, and the iterations are essential and crucial parts of the job. And these cannot be emulated, skipped, or done alone. 

You need both, theoretical knowledge, as well as practical experience. Only real-world work will provide practical experience. A craft needs practice. It grows by experience. And you’ll grow with it, too.

This is not a hen-egg problem. Nor am I saying, that you must be a designer to become one. Getting the theory right is a good way to start. But „learn this process and try it out by yourself“ only will take you so far.

Real practice is needed and necessary for becoming a UX designer. Courses are a great first step. They can be a good theoretical foundation and help you to get into user experience design. But then you need to continue and experience how to do UX design.

Get an internship, land your first job, or shadow other UX designers. Work with developers, preferably in a team, on real products. Learn with, and from others. Seek out feedback.

Practice the craft.