🎁 Beginners UX Design Kit

Kickstart your UX learning journey and ensure you don't miss out anything important

Hello,

I am Zosh. I practice and teach UX design in Seattle to many students just starting to learn UX. Four years ago, I, too, was starting to learn UX design. I know how excited I was then, and I am guessing you may be feeling the same way.

I am also guessing you have a lot of questions like:

  • What tool should I learn?

  • Are there any books or blogs I should read?

  • Any online course recommendations?

  • How do I keep up with industry trends?

  • Do you have any project ideas?

  • ... this list can go on forever

These questions are not new to me. After all, I have had to answer them many a time as an instructor. That is why I have created this beginner's design kit for you. Not just to accelerate your setup but also to ensure you don't miss out on anything important.

I have divided the list below into two parts:

  • Things you can do to quickly setup, which should take less than 10 minutes, such as downloading software, subscribing to a blog, a newsletter, and more. You should these as soon as possible.

  • Things will take a bit longer to do, such as reading a booking, completing a course, doing a project, and more. You should try and achieve these based on your comfort. Usually, I have seen that it takes a month or two to complete.

Quick Things to Get Setup

Get yourself acquainted with UX

Before you do anything else, it is essential to learn what UX design is and what the UX process is. Therefore we have created a quick crash course which you can read here.

Download & Install Figma

Figma is the Google Docs for UI Design. With Figma, you can collaborate with designers and have your work always backed up in the cloud, allowing you to focus on what matters the most - Design!

If you do not wish to download it, you can directly use it in your browser.

Start Using Figma | Learn Figma for Free Today

Install the Muzli Plugin on Chrome

There are endless ways to find design inspiration out there, but how about letting it all come to you every time you open a new tab? Muzli’s updated extension does precisely that, bringing you the best of several inspirational sites, news, and design sources so you can get a dose of creativity on each new tab. (Credit: The New Web)

Join these Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are a perfect way to keep up to date with the community as well as to ask questions and gain feedback on your design projects. We recommend that you join the following Facebook Groups mentioned below.

HH Design

A community built around design within the context of technology. This is the perfect place to ask questions, receive critique, and get matched to a mentor.

Join Now

The Designers League

Another favorite of ours, the designer's league features more experienced designers focussing more on product thinking & critique.

Join Now

The Designers Guild

A professional community of 20,000+ designers in 100+ countries, Designers Guild is your secret weapon for leveling up your design career. It’s where world class designers share valuable advice and resources, discuss the future of design, and provide mentorship and job opportunities. Their mission is to elevate the design profession at large.

Join Now

Create a Medium Account & Download the App

Medium is the perfect place to find design blog articles from people in the industry. In these articles, not only will you learn about new design projects but also industry best practices, current trends, and tips to optimize your workflow.

To create an account, go to the Medium home page & click on Get Started. You can then select to signup directly via Facebook or Google or using your email id. After that, download the app on your phone (Download on iOS or Download on Android). Don't forget to list your interests in UX, design, and technology when creating your account.

Follow these Medium Blogs

Now that you have created a Medium account, it is time to follow the best UX blogs out there.

Nick Babich

Nick Babich writes the best blog posts for beginners in UX such as you. Each of his blog posts focus on providing you with quick tips & tricks and industry best practices and he does this using visual examples.

UX Collective

One of the best blogs for reading curated stories on user experience, usability, and product design. Do subscribe to their newsletter. Fun fact: the bear of their logo is inspired from the cover of Information Architecture for the modern web (also known as the bible of Information Architecture).

Muzli

The Muzli blog is the perfect blog for design inspiration. They publish a weekly collection of the best UI Designs and Interactions which are selected by their team of experts. Also do check out Muzli search.

Prototypr

Prototypr is a fantastic blog to keep up with industry trends and best practices. But they are not just a blog. They are also a fantastic website to discover tools for your UX process.

BestFolios

As a beginner it is important to learn from those in the industry. Bestfolios does the hardwork for you and finds the best portfolios from top companies such as Google and Explore for you to explore. I highly recommend opening each portfolio and reading the case studies. Also check out their website.

Bookmark UX Library

Yes, I am self-plugging ourselves but within reason. Our website is a perfect guide and companion for you to start systematically learning about UX design. In each section, we provide you with a comprehensive crash course along with a list of recommended books, articles, software, and more along to ensure you get a rounded education.

Subscribe to the Web Designer News Newsletter

Subscribing to a newsletter is the best way to get UX news delivered to your email daily. This ensures you do not need to go scouring the web as they do it for you instead. All you have to do is open their email newsletter and read.

Listen to These Podcasts

While reading articles is a great way to learn industry practices, they mostly tend not to discuss the personal stories and intricate details of how design works in the real world. Not just that, our lives today are hectic. We don't always have time to sit and read. Therefore listening to a UX podcast is a great option, especially since you are new and maybe learning UX in your spare time. ‌

You can listen to them on the move and also feel more engaged with the community as most podcast episodes have a visiting design speaker. Here is a list of the best podcasts to listen to as a designer just getting started in UX. You can find more in our podcasts section.

User Defenders

For those more recently diving into UX and gaining experience, it can be quite daunting to stay inspired and enlightened in this ever-changing/evolving landscape. This podcast is aimed at highlighting those leading the way in their craft by diving deeper into who they are, and what makes them tick/successful, in order to inspire and equip those aspiring to do the same.

The Design Better Podcast

Design Better, is an inVision initiative which provides unprecedented access to the insights that power the world’s best design teams spanning over 3 seasons with bonus episodes too!

Jake and Jonathan (formerly Product Breakfast Club)

A behind the scenes look at how some of the best companies in the world design their products. Jake Knapp, NY Times best-selling author of "Sprint", has helped companies like Slack, Nest and 23andMe build successful products. Jonathan Courtney, co-founder of AJ&Smart, has worked with companies like RedBull, eBay and the United Nations, to help them build better products faster.

In this new, exciting podcast, the two of them have teamed up to discuss things like product design, innovation and productivity.

Design Matters

The world's first podcast about design and an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with designers, writers, artists, curators, musicians, and other luminaries of contemporary thought.

Books

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

Learning design thinking is essential to building your foundations as a UX Designer.

If you are new to the field of design thinking then this book is perfect for you. Written by cognitive scientist and usability engineer Donald Norman, he discusses how design serves as the communication between object and user, and how to optimize that conduit of communication in order to make the experience of using the object pleasurable.

If you are looking for a free alternative check out Design Methods by Amy Ko.

A Project Guide to UX Design by Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler

The next step is learning UX Design using this extremely structured book. This book as the name suggests is a guide to UX design, which provide you with the details about each stage of the UX Design process - perfect for a student like you learning UX and doing their first UX project.

Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug

A perfect short read for anyone getting started in the field. While the examples may look dated, the problems this book discusses are still relevant and applicable to today's state of design. We would definitely recommend reading this book no matter what stage of your design career you are in. There is something in it for everybody.

Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Brakden Kowitz

If you want to use the same problem-solving method Google designers use at both Google and for companies they invest in, then this book is perfect for you. This book is a practical guide to conducting a design sprint for groups of any size, from small startups to Fortune 100s, from teachers to non-profits. It’s for anyone with a big opportunity, problem, or idea who needs to get answers today.

Online Courses

Taking an online course is the perfect way to responsibly get your feet wet in UX design as you can ensure you are learning from experienced professionals.

User Experience Research and Design Specialization by University of Michigan

This FREE course will is perfect series to ensure you gain a solid foundation in UX Research and Design to create great products and advance your career.

As a student you will gain hands-on experience with taking a product from initial concept, through user research, ideation and refinement, formal analysis, prototyping, and user testing, applying perspectives and methods to ensure a great user experience at every step.

A similar version of this course is also offered by the University of California San Diego.

UI Design Tools by DesignCode.io

A key skill to becoming an effective UX designer is becoming comfortable with UI design tools.

This is a fantastic website with complete free courses on the best UI design software. They have free courses on Sketch, Figma, Framer, Webflow and Protopie. You do not need to learn each software but we recommend learning at least Figma.

Apart from this they also have paid courses on how to code out the prototypes you make using CSS, JSock, Swift, React, React Native, Swift UI and Vue.js.

Start Learning Today

Project ideas

If you are stuck for a project idea and want some inspiration or want to practice for whiteboard challenges then do check out these resources.

Dubstech Project Idea Repo

Dubstech, a student club at the University of Washington has compiled together a set of design challenges from our UX workshops and from Artiom Dashinsky's product design interview newsletter.

Design Challenge Generators

In addition to this you can also try these design challenge generators.

Design Challenge Newsletter

In addition to this you can always subscribe to the Daily UI, UpLabs Challenges, and Product Design Interview Newsletters.

Career Transition Advice

Since I have only been in UX for four years, it would be unfair of me to provide you with such advice myself. Therefore I have compiled a list of articles that discuss this in more detail. I would always recommend reaching to a designer in the industry for more advice.

The End

And that is it. I hope you liked our beginners design kit and if you have any feedback or questions do let us know. If you want to get in touch with me you can always email me on zcolah@uw.edu or connect with me on Linkedin.

Best, Zoshua Colah Founder of UX Library