Name: Irina Belova
Occupation: User Experience Designer, Fairfax Media
Meet Irina Belova, a Sydney-based graphic designer turned UX practitioner. Irina shares her journey from studying user experience design at General Assembly, to landing her first full-time UX role. Read on for advice about entering the field, unexpected challenges, and top resources and events for aspiring UX designers.
What inspired you to upskill in User Experience Design?
I come from a graphic design background and was working on signage and wayfinding for public building projects, which got me thinking more about the user and the way people interact with design. I was impressed with the research-driven, data-based approach that UX-ers take when solving design problems, so I decided to dive deeper by enrolling in a structured User Experience Design course.
What have you been up to since completing the UX course?
I was a graphic designer by day at an architecture firm, and after graduating I took on a few freelance UX projects to gain more experience in the field. A year later I landed my dream job as a UX Designer at Fairfax Digital. I've been there just over a month now and I'm loving it.
How has studying UX impacted your work and your design career?
For me, the UX course was a crucial first step towards a successful career change. I was able to build the foundations of a UX toolkit that I draw upon daily, and the insights of my instructor (who is a current UX practitioner) have been invaluable.
What surprised you the most about learning UX? Any challenges you didn’t expect?
I wasn't expecting UX to have such a strong focus on presentation skills. UX is all about storytelling and selling the story to your stakeholders. Doing that well requires a lot of skill, practice and confidence!
Any advice for fellow design professionals who are interested in upskilling in UX?
Do it! The work is really fun and rewarding, and the people you'll meet in the industry are a fascinating bunch - they tend to come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. My advice is to work hard, read and absorb everything you can because nothing ever stays the same in UX (or in any digital role)!
What are some of your favourite resources for aspiring UX designers?
I love A List Apart and Smashing Magazine - both have very well-researched and well-argued pieces on user experience problems. There are also fantastic meetup groups for UX designers with any level of experience - the Interaction Design Association are active in most major cities, and there’s a great UX book club in Sydney.
What’s in store for the future?
A never ending stack of learning!
Irina is a graduate of the 12-week part-time User Experience Design course at General Assembly in Sydney. The UX course helps you to upskill in user research and analysis, wireframing and prototyping, and interaction design, as you build your portfolio and break into the booming UX industry.