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So, I am an aspiring UX Designer and I want to start building up my portfolio and getting some UX design experience. But, the problem is, I don't know where to start.

A lot of people have told me that I should just start making my own projects to get experience but I don't know where to begin.

Like, if I was making a website, I know how to design it. I can code HTML/CSS etc. But, I don't know the actual UX Design way of going about it. Like, creating wire-frames and prototypes or creating personas. I know about these things but I don't know how to actually incorporate them in my projects.

So, basically, what is the UX process for creating a personal project?

closed as too broad by Charles Wesley, Matt Obee, Erics, Code Maverick, Bart Gijssens Feb 24 '14 at 7:15

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  • So is your question how to use a user centered design process ? – Mervin Johnsingh Feb 22 '14 at 17:41
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    Perhaps you can consider looking at design challenges, such as the ones listed at TopCoder topcoder.com/active-challenges/design . At the very least, it will give you some real-world material to work with, even if you don't submit anything. – CJF Feb 22 '14 at 19:36
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There are many paths you can take to follow a design process (I think most of the paths follow the basic structure I posted below, but each are nuanced in terms of what tools and techniques they implement for any given project). Choosing what to do will depend on what is most appropriate for your project.

Most importantly, I suggest you pick a topic area you are interested in for your project! (By that, I mean if you are already part of an organization that you love, maybe there is an opportunity to improve something in it... basically, start with something you enjoy, and work from there to find a problem to solve.)

Also, in your case, you should consider if there is a particular skill set in the design process you want to focus on (for example, do you want to focus on prototyping, research, UI design...?).

In general, I would outline the UX Design Process as:

Definition: Defining the problem that and understanding what it is you want to solve. Research: Research should ideally be happening throughout the entire process. After the definition phase, you can do research to gather information that will help define the problem further and help generate ideas and potential solutions. Ideation & Prototyping: Create possible solutions through sketches, prototyping, wireframing, etc. You should be iterating on your designs through this process to improve usability, UI, etc. Put your designs in front of your target users so you can figure out which areas of your design you may need to improve. You can do many types of user research on your designs. Launch, Learn, Improve: Launch your solution, gather insights about it, and iterate!

There are a lot of resources available online to learn about each one of these areas. For example, what are different types of research methods? How do you run a usability tests? How do you create prototypes? etc... Good luck! :)

  • Perfect, thanks! This really helped give me some kind of direction because I was little lost haha. As for a skill, I want to focus more on UI and visual design part of it. I've done some graphic design stuff before and I really like "making things pretty" :) – taylor018 Feb 22 '14 at 23:09
  • That's awesome! I'm glad you found it helpful :) – Lauren Dankiewicz Feb 23 '14 at 1:30
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Full disclosure, I do not have UX or design anything as my job title. I am a developer but I am very concerned with the user experience of what I produce. I try very hard to follow the ideas of the User Experience Team of One. I hope others might come forward with a more detailed or more complete answer for you.

www.Usability.gov has a very good infographic on this topic. I would suggest that you get started there.

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But beyond just learning about the process you need to get some practical experience in. You could actually do this by volunteering and working with local charities, small businesses, and open source projects. Of course, you are going to have a lot more questions as you progress. Try and make some connections in your area. There should be professional associates associated with usability/UX in your area. It might be a users group like http://utah-ux.groups.adobe.com/ or a User Experience Professionals Association branch.

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    +1 for the book link. The step-by-step guide is a bit "waterfall"y but gives a nice overview. I guess that in an agile team the analyze, design and test/refine steps would be executed more in parallel for various users tasks. – Marjan Venema Feb 23 '14 at 10:37
  • yes, that would be a concentric loop that would connect back up to plan. Although all the components in plan and analyze phases would not necessarily be needed. – Robert Kaucher Feb 23 '14 at 18:21

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