How to get into design

A Comprehensive Roadmap to Get into Design without a Degree

Lately, I have started getting this question a lot,

How to get into design?” or “How to transition into design?” and every time, I end up answering how I did it?

So, thought of documenting it once and for all. 

 Just a disclaimer, that there can exist several best ways to get into design & in no way I am saying that you should follow this one, but you can get some ideas from it and carve your path, for sure. 

Setting up the expectations upfront,

This article is for you if you are:

  1. An absolute beginner.
  2. Want to self-learn design.
  3. Want to transition to design from some other field.

Just a bit about myself, I am an engineer turned designer. I used to be a developer right before I turned into a designer one year back and it has been an incredible journey. Currently working at Udaan as a product designer. Here is how my first year in design has been?

Without wasting any time further, let’s get rolling.


Step 1: Learn the vocabulary of design.

How to get into design

Whenever we want to get into uncharted territory or novel career paths, the first thing one should do is to familiarize ourselves with the vocabulary of that domain.

When I started it, there was this one course that helped me with the familiarization.

IDF Design Fundamentals course. It has a comprehensive structure that introduces you to the design terms and gives you a fair understanding of what’s inside.

It’s an 08 weeks course and has a mix of videos & text-based content.

In case, if you don’t have that much time bandwidth, few good videos on the internet can help you with that.

Here I am listing out a few:

These should be good to go, I’ll keep on updating things here whenever I come across any.

Also, there is this one absolute gold playlist by ABNUX, which can also help you get started: See Here 

One other tip that I can give you here is to talk to somebody who is already in the design field and clear your doubts if any.

In case, if you don’t know anyone who is into the design field, take a turn to social media and find designers there who share their work online, and talk to them.

Alternatively, you can look into these following websites for people into design:

Step 2: Learn by doing: Projects for Portfolio

How to get into design

Now, once you have familiarized yourself with design terms and have a fair bit of understanding, the only way I can recommend is to learn by doing.

Pick up a problem statement, research it if other people are facing that as well, maybe go, start solving it.

Now, in case if you are wondering how you can pick up a problem statement, here is how I do it? 

I’ll give you an example,

When I thought of stepping into design, I started attending a lot of design events, and then people started asking me how do I get to know about design events? 

I realized that unlike me, not everyone wants to keep an eye on every other social media platform for getting to know about these events, and there was no platform for the discovery of design events.

& I decided to solve it. I researched around it and saw that my hypothesis was true that there is no single platform for discovery of design events and hence, I designed and developed “Alldesignevents

So, one way is to take up your own problem statement and try to solve it. There are a lot of things you might be facing daily, observe it, and see if you can solve it.

Because at the core, Design is all about problem-solving.

Here are some additional tips for your project:

  • Try to finish what you started, when we are in an initial stage of something, we should always try to give closure to things.
    That helps in building your finishing muscle.
    At this point, I would suggest not to worry about your quality of work, rather than focus on finishing stuff.
    You get better with each finished piece of work.
  • Document your process. This will also help you construct a case study when the project ends and can go in your portfolio.
  • Spend time getting deep in your problem space. Understand what exactly you are solving.
  • Research the problem statement, talk to relevant people, start having conversations around that.
  • Seek feedback from people, show it around, and incorporate valid feedback.

Remember, design is a very iterative process, your first version is never going to be perfect.

Step 3: Portfolio Time – It’s time to build one now

How to get into design

Do two or three such projects and I believe that with each project you are improving and seeking feedback.

Now, it’s time to build your portfolio. 

For designers, Portfolio is a repository that showcases their work.

Not an expert on this, but here are my two cents:

  • Put your best, in-depth work out there. Quantity doesn’t matter, if you are starting and seeking entry-level jobs, two or three projects should be good enough.
  • Try to include versatility in your portfolio. Be unique and creative. Copying is a big no-no.
  • Better if you have it in the form of a personal website, you can use webflow, WordPress, or even Notion.

Here are some of the good portfolio, you can look for inspiration:

Step 4: Apply for Jobs

How to get into design

  • Make a list of companies you want to work for which has a good design culture. How to spot a company that has a good design culture, simply look at their design first and see if the designers there are talking about their work. Also, try to connect with them and ask questions.
  • Be creative when applying for jobs. Design is a hot field right now, you not only have to make sure that your work is considerably good or promising but also have to stand out from the crowd.
    Just throwing out some ideas, maybe try a video introduction, or do some research on the company & tell them how you can bring value to their organization.
    The point is to be creative & believe me, this works, I got my first design job this way only.
  • Don’t be disheartened if you get rejected. Keep on applying and experiment with your pitch or approach. I applied for 13 companies before I got my first design job.

Portals for Finding Design Jobs:

Add-on tip: If you can afford, I would suggest you do internships if you can.

I know a person with kids, who interned at the age of 30 to get into design and is now doing extremely well. If he can, you can too.

Got your job, what next?

  • Keep on learning. You have just scratched the surface. There is a lot you will have to learn.
  • Learn about the business side of things.
  • Learn data-driven design.
  • Learn how to communicate better.
  • Learn how to deal with ambiguity.
  • Learn how to network.
  • Learn how to document.

Bonus Tips:

Adding a list of people/resources to follow:




Some FAQs About Getting Into Design:

1. Is design a good field to pursue?

Yes, it absolutely is. The demand for designers is going to increase as good design has become an absolute must-have for any product.

2. Do designers get paid well?

Hell yeah, just to tell you that money is a byproduct of your skill.

3. Do I need a design degree to get into design?

It’s not necessary, The core is problem-solving, if you can do that, any skill can be acquired.

Yeah, that’s all. I will keep on updating this as and when I come across any good resources or feel the need to update it with new trends.

You can connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Medium here. Let me know if you have any queries, happy to help.

Featured Image Source: Freepik

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