How To Kick-start Your Career in UX, UI, or CRO

Often I get the question about how to kick-start a career in either UX, UI, or CRO (or a combination of them), so I decided to write a short summary in this blog about how to kick-start your career.

Congratulations you’ve figured it out, you want to make a career in UX, UI, CRO, or one of all those other terms they use nowadays. To get off to a good start, you must of course be able to answer: Why do I want to specialize in?

The Difference Between UX, UI, and CRO career

In short, what is …

UX (User Experience)

UX is the abbreviation for User Experience. Many people think that the work of a UX designer is to create wireframes in such a way that the user does not get confused or drop out of using the product. And that’s right! However, there is more and this is not even the most important part of the work of a UX designer. If the product creates value for the user positively that is promised, then you have succeeded in the user experience.

UI (User Interface)

UI is the abbreviation for User Interface. Many people think that the job of a UI designer is to make mockups visually appealing. That’s right again! Only here also applies: that is not the most important. It is not just about how everything looks, but also how it works, where elements are placed, and how easy interaction is possible. So it is more than images, illustrations, and text styles.

CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)

CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimization. CRO is a crucial part of digital marketing. The meaning is actually improving the conversion percentage of a website so that more leads or a different conversion goal are obtained from the same number of visitors. This is often viewed from the business perspective, while UX is viewed some the customer perspective. With CRO, you’ll use cognitive biases to influence the behavior of your visitors.

I hope you’re now able to tell the difference between the different jobs and are able to choose the direction in which you would like to go on.

Specialist or Generalist?

It is smart to consider whether you want to specialize or take a broader approach. This goes together with companies where you may want to apply. Specialists are often at large (international) companies, where if you are widely deployable you are more likely to work in small to medium-sized companies, including start-ups and scale-ups.

How do you find out what you are going to like? That’s just by doing, that’s how every career starts. To start with UI / UX, it is smart to read a number of case studies on Medium. That way, you get a good idea of ​​what that function will entail exactly. Then you can do a case study yourself. For example, choose a website that you would like to improve (choose something close to you in the first instance, that way you can put yourself well into the target group).

When you have written the case study, you also have your first portfolio item, and you can explain in your interview interviews what kind of process you use, but also your way of thinking about it.

Good luck, it takes some time and effort but will be worth it.

Looking For Knowledge?

You can stay up to date by looking for knowledge, YouTube is a great source for this, but also think of podcasts, forums, Facebook groups, etc.

Interesting YouTuber channels

  1. The futur (Design)
  2. NNGroup (Pure UX)
  3. FLUX (UI / Freelance)
  4. Maex (UI with Sketch)

There are many more, but these are some I really like.

Books :

  1. The design of everyday things
  2. Don’t make me think (Steve Krug)
  3. Steal Like an Artist
  4. Thinking Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)
  5. Show your Work
  6. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
  7. Made to Stick
  8. The best interface is no interface
  9. Lean UX

To improve your UI and build a portfolio you can participate in challenges online, you will receive a task in your mailbox every day with a challenge to design something small. You can easily and quickly build up your portfolio that way.

Tools you should be able to handle:

  1. Sketch (Mac only) or Adobe xD (free version available via the Creative Cloud) for UI
  2. Google Analytics (certificates can be obtained for free) – UX Research
  3. Hotjar or other tools to analyze recordings & heat maps – UX Research
  4. or other flowchart tools to visualize flows
  5. Draw or create wireframes in tools
  6. Having a structured way of developing your ideas


On Udemy you have 12 euros for a course on UX, but there are many more! Some are expensive, while there are also cheap ones. If I were you, I would start with cheap courses and move into more expensive once later on.


Build an online portfolio and show your expertise. This might include writing some blog posts, writing some case studies, and showing your designs kills. Kick-start your career by starting today! Right now! No Excuses!

Logo Freelance CRO specialist Sander Volbeda

Working remotely from Groningen, the Netherlands. Get in touch and let’s schedule a meeting, no strings attached.

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