🎁 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 times as an instructor. This is why I have created a beginner's design kit for you. So you can accelerate your UX career and ensure you are not missing out on anything important.

I have divided the list below into 5 parts:

  1. Quick Things to Get Setup

  2. Books to Read

  3. Online Courses to Take

  4. Project Ideas

  5. Career Transition Advice

Quick Things to Get Setup

Get yourself acquainted with UX

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

Download Figma - The Best UI/UX Tool Out There!

Figma is the Google Docs for UX Design. We use it for designing mobile apps, websites, and even slide decks (it's extremely versatile)!

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

Download 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 chrome extension does precisely that. Each time you open a new tab, you get a fresh splash of beautiful apps and websites inspiring you for your next project.

Join these Facebook Groups

A great way to not feel alone in your journey of learning UX, is by participating in UX Communities on Facebook. These are a great place for you to ask questions, get feedback on projects, and see what other designers are up to!

While there are many Facebook UX Groups out there, I recommend that you join the ones mentioned below.

HH Design | Join Now

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.

The Designers League | Join Now

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

The Designers Guild | Join Now

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. Do join their group.

Create a Medium Account & Download the App

Medium is the perfect place to learn UX in a bitesized manner. It features blogs by industry designers who discuss best practices, case studies, current trends, and tips to optimized your workflow.

Some of the best publications to follow on Medium are:

Do create an account from here, and don't forget to download their mobile app (iOS / Android) so that you can read UX on the go!

💡Pro Tip: Don't forget to list your interests in UX, design, and technology when creating your account.

Bookmark UX Library

Yes, I am self-plugging ourselves but within reason. This website is a perfect companion for you to start systematically learning about UX. In each section, we provide you a comprehensive crash course, along with recommend books, articles, and software to ensure you get a well rounded design 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 don't go scouring the web as they do it for you instead. All you have to do is open their email newsletter and read. I use it all the time!

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. More importantly we do not always have the time to read.

Therefore listening to UX podcasts are a great option! 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. Below is a list of our recommended podcasts if you are just getting started in UX:

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