Ben is the UX/UI designer and webflow developer at the same time at Britenet. He transitioned himself from law school into the UX field with extensive front-end knowledge. He is one of the most dedicated and talented people I have ever seen, and it was certainly a pleasure to speak with him.
Introduction — Getting into UX
Hi Ben! Would you like to introduce your journey getting into UX?
Ben:It all started during my final year of law studies at the Warsaw University. This is the time where you have to decide whether you want to pursue the legal path for the next few years to meet government requirements for becoming the legal counsel/advocate. I felt I didn’t belong there and I didn’t want to make such a big decision for my future without exploring different routes.
So I started looking at different career possibilities and learning new things. Initially, I wanted to become a front-end developer, and it took me around half a year to teach myself the front-end basics. Then UX came as a topic, which added some additional knowledge to my front-end skills.
Then I found out that this is more interesting for me. I found out I was able to spend more quality time learning design than learning front end. So yeah, over time, I just saw that I really want to devote my career to UX. Once I managed to get into UX I then got fascinated by Webflow development. Now I enjoy a role where I’m doing both design and Webflow development. So I guess every now and then I get intrigued by a certain topic or technology and then move in that direction.
Interesting Experience! Do you think your front-end learning experience somehow helps you?
Ben:Yes, absolutely. It has been helpful in terms of everyday UX design work. Having the front and awareness, I would say, gives you the ability to understand developers more, and to talk with them in a way that they want to talk.
Learning the front-end also massively helped me to become a Webflow Developer.. In order to understand Webflow, I really have to understand the code basics like CSS & HTML. I think designers are often a bit cautious when it comes to learning coding basics. But honestly the advantages are endless and diverse — from the way you communicate to other team members to learning new tech skills you can apply to expand your offer as a professional. I wrote the article recently on this very subject ( check the link here👉: why learning a webflow can make you a better designer ). But the short version is: yes, it’s helpful and I encourage everybody to learn a bit about how the web works under the hood.
Would you like to share what kind of course and programme helped you to learn and practice UX?
Ben:I’ve done some courses on sites like Udemy or Interaction Design Foundation. I would say that these are good for the early stage. By early stage I mean that you are actually discovering the UX and you don’t really know what is required and where to start.So at the beginning it is important to get the basics in place. So, for this stage, just finding a cool course like this is good.
But soon after that, I moved on to the mix of YouTube videos, articles, UX related books, inspiration and other reference points. I also think it’s very useful to create some sort of library for yourself to collect such things even if you do not have a project at hand. Just create a few buckets to store your inspirations. It can be in Notion, Raindrop, Evernote, whatever you prefer. And whenever I see a cool website, I immediately copy it and put it into the bucket. It helps you as a reference point for your designs and moodboards later on. And this is just a cool thing to do!
However, the number one advice I would give is to find a mentor. Find someone who is doing what you want to do and is open to sharing his/her experience with you. I’m beyond fortunate to have two amazing design mentors (thank you Tony and Amy ❤ ) and they have been helping me out in a way that no online course can ever help.
Transition into Work life
That’s great to know how you got here today as a UX designer! And how actually was the working life for you? Is there anything different from school when you just started?
Ben: I think it has been hard and exciting at the same time. The hardest part is that you’re not aware of the environment which you will have to live in, and in fact you have to know this environment. And I think the most stressful thing is that you are not really aware of what will be required from you. You know it conceptually but you do not know it in detail. And it took me probably like around three or four months to be able to say that, hey, I think I know what’s going on here.
So many things like the way people work, who are my future teammates, things like those are hard to know beforehand. So, you can’t really learn this at home, like there’s no way. It may sound harsh but for me, there’s no way to prepare beforehand. It’s like driving — you can learn how to drive a car on an empty road, but it would never prepare you to drive well in the middle of the busy city center. I would say it’s best to have a relatively relaxed attitude embracing the upcoming work as a newbie.
Any tips to better integrate into the new work?
Ben: That is a good question. I think it is very important to understand work details, process, and the environment as we mentioned above during the first several months. What helped me was certainly asking a lot of questions, especially to senior designers. I was this guy who asked a lot of questions from the beginning. So, you know, I think it’s just a natural thing to do. When you’re transitioning into a new field, certainly you will have a lot of questions to ask. It’s perfectly normal and natural. Many people will be willing and open to answer your questions and share their experience, so there’s no need to be shy about it.
Another thing I found helpful for me is to have patience for myself. It is good not to have unrealistic expectations from yourself. Even though I said it like this, it is definitely one thing that I struggle with every day, all day every day. So this is the type of advice that, you know, I try to give myself all the time and then I don’t follow it. (Haha) But I think it is good to always remind ourselves that things take time and we don’t see the full picture when browsing the internet and seeing other people’s work.
I guess a lot of folks also have this kind of struggle to hope to achieve something in a short time. I think it is also normal and what we do is try to tell ourselves, it is fine that we can fail and move slowly sometimes, as long as we are continuously progressing.