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What do UX/UI designers major in and what are some daily tasks you do on the job?

I'm an IST major going into my last semester. Most of the classes I've had for my major have been web development/network architectures related. I think this is main reason why I started liking front end, but recently I've really wanted to learn more about UX/UI design. I've always had a strong interest in art but never pursued it as my major. My question has 3 parts I guess:

I'm a semester away from graduating, is it too late to get into UI/UX now?
What do UX/UI designers major in?
What are some daily tasks you do on the job as UI/UX designer?

I'm hoping that if I change my mind and decide to go this route then I'll have a little more room for art (even if its tech/UX/UI based). computerscience college-major art ux ui design

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Anthony’s Answer

Hi Sam! Great question, as there's quite a bit of confusion around UX in particular. The field is changing very quickly, but here's some information that might be helpful:

UX roles are usually either Designers, Researchers, Quant Researchers, and sometimes Writers. Designers and Researchers are the main two.

UX Designer: You'll be given an assignment to design something, usually a web site, web app, or mobile app.. You'll receive requirements for it, like it has to support some user journeys (explained steps a key user might take when using the app or site) or has to include some particular content or content structure. These requirements usually come from the Product Manager (who worked with a UX Researcher very often to product said requirements). If you are (un)lucky you'll have a dedicated UI designer to handle the visuals while you focus on structure, design validation (showing the designs to users or testing users on prototypes you've produced), and often accessibility of fonts and colors/aria support.

UX Researcher: You'll be generating and looking at the incoming research data, usually qualitative but hopefully a mix of qual and quant. You're there to help determine how users are liking the product currently (especially after a new release), what should go into design/development next, and produce some initial artifacts like user journeys and possible information architecture maps. You conduct A/B tests. Stuff like that.

You're never too late to get into UI/UX, but the field is currently overcrowded with Junior level folks. Additionally more and more roles are wanting a Masters or even PhD, which is a natural progression of a profession as it becomes more crowded and more established. I watched the same thing happen to Pharmacy from 2000-2015 or so. Bootcamps are very popular right now, and do teach the basics, so I'd probably suggest starting your career as-is and then doing a bootcamp in the evenings/weekends.

You won't be doing a lot of art, though. UI/UX is about design, and knowing the principles of color and composition are going to help you on the UI side, but it's not really art. As someone who used to paint and draw all the time, and who did some professional illustration work 20 years ago, I do miss that being fully in UX. To compensate I like to just do art for me in Painter (PC) or Dreams (Playstation).
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Alexandra’s Answer

Hi Sam!

Great question. The beauty of UX/UI design is that it is a relatively new field, compared to other professions like Law, Architecture, etc. So a lot of designers have degrees in a variety of fields, from anthropology, to computer science, to print making. It's definitely not too late to get into UX/UI or Product Design! (pro tip: a lot of UX/UI roles are now called Product Design because it's thought about the holistic process of creating a product. Definitely check out roles with that title too)

I've been working as a designer in the professional space for 5 years now. I enjoy the fact that the day-to-day is always changing depending on the product phase you're in. I'm a full-stack designer, meaning that I do all the things from user research, to experience flows, to interaction design + visual design, and collaboration with developers. So depending on where we are with a product, I might be:
• writing a script for usability testing and interviewing our customers
• creating a user journey or flow chart to plan the way a user will navigate a task/process
• working in Figma to create some interactions
• collaborating with development to ensure the product is high-quality and easy to use

It's really fun and I highly recommend for people who love switching from the analytical side of the brain to creative side. Creatively solving problems is such a fun career!

Alexandra recommends the following next steps:

To get started I recommend finding an internship to see if you really like the day-to-day. This will allow you to get some mentorship as well, which I found to be much for helpful than courses or bootcamps.
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