Becoming a UX Designer – Cuong Lu’s story
6. How has it been so far?
You know that feeling you have when you start playing a new sport or try to learn a new skill, you fumble, feel like an idiot at times and wonder if you’ll ever get the hang of things? Well, I feel like that regularly at the moment.
I’ve been thrown in the deep end with my own product feature to work on. I am in a multi-disciplinary co-located team, which consists of a tech lead, product manager, product owner, business analysts, UX researcher developers, and editors.
Despite feeling completely out of my depth at times, I have moments where I feel that I am contributing and having an impact on where the team is moving. I decided early on that I would work extra hard to get on top of things.
This meant lots of discussions with team members to draw insights from their experiences and areas of expertise, leaning on my peers for lots of advice, design discussions and knowledge sharing. I have two senior designers working with me to help me with my work, which has been fantastic.
Every day is different and sometimes I get that sinking feeling but I’m enjoying the moments of achievement.
7. What have been your main challenges?
My main challenge has come from joining a team that lost their UX designer quite abruptly and having to on board in the team.
I had to take the initiative and get up to speed through my own research and asking lots of questions of my colleagues.
We’re attempting to build a process for creating and publishing content that meets our users’ needs but also saves the business significant costs and time to publish this content.
This is a complex process and as a junior, I have found it highly challenging. Getting my head into the domain and understanding the design decisions that came before me was the first hurdle – this is an ongoing process.
The other difficulty is understanding all the jargon within each of the other disciplines – but i’m getting there!
8. What have been some of the things you didn’t expect about the job?
It’s not that I didn’t expect this about the job but because I am so new to the world of design I didn’t realise the extent to which design can be constrained through various factors.
The reality of working in a big corporate company is that there are so many ways a team could push and everyone comes from a different approach so it’s difficult to all get aligned and work in a harmonious way.
I didn’t realise the extent at which, to be a great designer and influence the product design, you need to understand your team mates, their roles and needs, then cultivate an open and mindful relationship that will allow them to see the benefits of UX and in turn help steer us in the right direction.
9. Are you glad you made the switch to UX design?
I made the drastic career change to cultivate my love of learning and my enthusiasm for problem solving. I am getting to do that every day now so even though there are lots of moments of discomfort, I am really enjoying this new chapter in my life.
10. Do you have any tips for someone who is looking to become a UX designer?
My best tips would be to find the themes that drive you in life. For me it’s taken years but I understand that I get bored easily and need new challenges to keep me motivated and driven. I love learning new things and problem solving so if these are themes that you also enjoy then UX could be for you.
From there I would recommend, doing lots of reading, online courses and a proper offline course because only working with real people will give you the skills you need to be a UX designer.
Do lots of design work, analyse your experiences, have faith in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help, I’ve only gotten this far from the support from friends and the kindness of experienced people in the industry taking time out to steer me in the right direction.
Do you have an interesting story to tell? We’d love to hear about it! Tell us in the comments.