I worked in magazine design for almost nine years until I got fed up of the deteriorating circumstances of traditional publishing. I took a really good and comprehensive course on UX but now that I am starting to apply recruiters tell me I am too senior as a designer for an internship position but too inexperienced (in UX) for a permanent role.

Has anyone worked as print designer before and jumped into UX? How did you do it? Did anyone go through something similar?

  • 3
    UX teams need graphic designers too. I'd start there. Pitch yourself as a UI Visual Designer looking for a position on a UX team. When on a previous UX team we actually had a really tough time finding UX folks with visual design skills and experience. Sell yourself on that unique skill.
    – DA01
    Jul 3, 2015 at 19:07

6 Answers 6

  1. Read UX.StackExchange.com to get an understanding of how to present UX and how to have a constructive UX conversation (and also how to avoid unconstructive conversations!).

  2. Read lots of UX books. I would focus on fundamentals, but also a selection of advanced topics like behavioral design and microinteractions because they may allow you to "leapfrog" existing UX designers with more old-fashioned skillsets.

  3. Volunteer with open source projects or nonprofit UX.

  4. When you meet or interview with a company, bring along a redesign of their site or one aspect of their product. You don't have to nail it...you just have to be thoughtful enough that they will be impressed with your thought process, the quality of your dialog, and your initiative and boldness.

You are breaking into the field so it will take some extraordinary effort. I wouldn't underestimate #4: you come from a print background so you will have certain natural advantages in presenting design work....your instincts around color, font, grid layout can help create calm and communicative interfaces. Just make sure you can explain your design decisions around interactivity.

  • 1
    Do not bring along a redesign of their site. That's opening yourself to a whole pile of odd political issues. It's also spec work, something that is usually frowned upon. No one wants to start an interview by having the person they are interviewing point out what's wrong with their product/site. If they ask, then sure (though do keep in mind the issue of spec work).
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:12
  • Do not bring along a redesign if you are a lousy designer. But if you are a good designer, a redesign shows courage, specific research for the company, a willingness to engage the organization on its own terms and a clear demonstration of ability to contribute to the product. If an interviewer decides to see politics instead of the quality of your design, you probably don't want to work for that company anyway. A designer who shows up with a great design improvement to a company's product is a designer that the company will fall over itself to hire immediately.
    – tohster
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:25
  • we disagree on that. I'd say that shows arrogance and a lack of tactfulness. By all means, research is great, and bring ideas in your head to discuss if asked, but coming to an interview with "hey, here's how you should be doing things" attitude is going to backfire more often than succeed IMHO. How a web site gets designed and built is based on a plethora of factors including history, business objectives, teams, and, yes, politics. It's simply arrogant for a designer to brush all of that aside.
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:27
  • One also needs to remember that a web site at a corporate level wasn't just 'designed by one designer'. It's often a team of dozens if not hundreds of business owners, analysts, UX designers, copywriters, marketing folks, branding teams, vendors, consultants, developers, data systems, etc. To brush them all aside and say "here's the better way to do it" is usually going to come across as being way out of touch to most people.
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:32
  • When McKinsey shows up with a better market strategy, Goldman shows up with a better capital structure, IDEO shows up with a better design in a bake off pitch, or a developer shows up at an interview with a way to speed up your product, that wins jobs. You may mistake courage and competence for arrogance, but thankfully most top companies do not.
    – tohster
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:33

Build a case for why you are of value as a UX Designer. Write about it, show research into and apply the logic to personal projects, revisit old ones or show improvements in existing ones. Don't go through a recruiter. Find a larger agency that does traditional print as well as digital marketing / advertising. Or find a smaller shop that is getting up and running and needs experienced designers willing to learn and grow the company.

Understand and practice research and learn to work with groups of people to get them to collaboratively solve problems.

Define what UX is to you so you can clearly articulate it to others. It is a broad term and means many different things depending on the context.

1 course doesn't matter, just as a degree doesn't in certain circumstances. It's clarity and insight and proving you can help a shop meet the needs of the client. Your skills in print: legibility, hierarchy, rhythm, color and type will prove valuable for your UX direction


The transition from print design to UI design is an extremely common one. The transition from UI design to UX design is also very common, some don't even see it as a transition at all. The road is pretty much paved, and it's much easier than transitioning directly from print to UX. Also, you'll be a much better UX designer if you follow this path gradually, it will give you the time to acquaint yourself with the domain.


My Background

I graduated with a BsC in advertising and also did a specialty track (3 portfolio classes) for art direction and even interned as an art director.

After college, I initially worked as a print designer before I took on more and more web design responsibilities.

From web design I transitioned in to UX and UI design from doing freelance and volunteer work, startup work after regular working hours.

Eventually I learned/still learning web technologies: git, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, php, angularjs, agile, scrum, Wordpress, et al.

My Advice

Build up your UI and UX portfolio from freelance, seek out volunteer opportunities or startups that need design help.

Use this portfolio and case studies about your work to break in to the UX field.

Best of luck!


I have made the transition from print design to UX but it took me a lot longer that you want to know about!

The advice I would give you is to go through your CV and find any areas where you have already applied UX principles (even from before your course) and bring them to the surface so that your CV looks more like a UX CV with some print stuff than a print CV with some UX stuff.

To go along with that, I'd suggest picking a couple of high profile sites, analysing them and producing a couple of case studies so that you have some sort of UX portfolio.


OK, I figure I should flesh out my comment more as an answer to give a different point of view to things.

Most of the other advice is good...namely get experience. But how to do that?

Focus on the skills you currently have, and find a position at a company that needs that position filled on their UX team. Larger UX teams tend to hire a mix of specialists and generalists. They usually need good graphic designers on staff. That'd be you.

Once on board, you can then move into that generalist role over time by learning more aspects of the UX field and chipping in when you can.

In the interim, definitely follow the advice of the others here...try and get more experience doing graphic design for the web and moving into UI design. But definitely start doing some networking and keep an eye out for positions at larger companies that tend to have larger in-house UX teams. A good graphic designer is always an asset on a UX team.

  • So the OP is a designer today and seeking to move into UX, and the advice is.... Be a designer again and then move into UX in the future? That may certainly work but as others here have pointed out, it's pretty common just to move directly into UX so how does this actually help the OP except to provide even more delay to the transition?
    – tohster
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:39
  • @tohster no, move into UX now as a designer. UX teams need designers.
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:40
  • But UX teams also need UX professionals, which is what the OP wants to be today, and not a year from now via internal transfer...
    – tohster
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:41
  • @tohster any designer I've worked with on a UX team I'd call a UX professional. UX isn't one thing. It's a wide range of skills and talents. Design is one of them and once you're in, you can expand your skills and talents quite a bit. It's merely one way to go about it. As for the OP, today he's a print designer. So this would already be a move out of that.
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:47
  • BTW, nothing I say here precludes anything you've said. It's not an either/or thing.
    – DA01
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:49

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