It can be difficult to transition from another field or find your way into a career in UX/UI or product design in an industry that is so vast and competitive. But it can be a lot easier if you choose a niche in order to position yourself optimally.
What is a niche?
In marketing, a niche refers to a segment of a larger market for a particular kind of product or service. Companies and organizations will often target a single market niche, such as developers, which is a subset of the larger market of tech. They might create a specific product for that niche, such as coding software, and get even more specific by creating something specifically for front-end developers such as an HTML and CSS editor.
As a designer, you can look for companies that are working in a particular niche and position yourself as the best person to help them with that. There are many different niche categories to choose from but think of a niche as the type of company or problem you want to work on.
There are five main reasons you might want to niche down as a UX/UI or product designer and why it can be so helpful in the early stages of your career:
1. Transferable skills
If you come from a background working in finance and have a few fin-tech apps in your portfolio, it’s easier for potential employers to connect the dots between what you were doing and where you are now. It can be harder for them to imagine someone with a background as a dance teacher going into de-fi, Crypto technologies. It’s not impossible, but you will have to work harder to position yourself and frame your story in a way that gives them insight into your journey and convince them that you have the needed experience and work history required for the job.
2. Product-Designer Fit
Employers and clients are looking for a good ‘product-designer fit’. Think about it from their perspective; with all other things being equal, if you were a hiring manager or CEO for a health-tech startup, would you be more interested in looking at the portfolios of designers that can show work they’ve done in the health-tech space or portfolios of designers that have a broad range of experience in other areas? Showing in-depth specialized knowledge of an industry helps potential employers see that you really understand their problem space and the issues that they’re facing and that you have the experience and interest in working on solutions that could be useful to them.
3. Job Enjoyment
The industry that you choose will dictate the user flows and tasks that you spend most of your time doing. So if you don’t enjoy working on shopping cart flows or checkout tasks every day, then you’re probably not going to enjoy your job working full-time in e-commerce. Choose an industry that you think will give you the most excitement and enjoyment when working with the users, the problem and the minutiae of daily tasks.
4. Save Time and Energy
Knowing what industry you want to work in saves a lot of time and energy on researching and applying for jobs. If you already have some familiarity with the market or the industry that you want to work in — say for instance elderly healthcare or children's apps; then you won’t have to spend as much time and energy having to research it and becoming familiar with the problems that are most common in that space. You’ll also have an easier time writing cover letters and tweaking your resume and job application when applying to other similar companies.
5. Broader isn’t always better
It’s hard to be an excellent jack-of-all-trades in the beginning when you’re still working on learning and mastering your craft and gaining experience. Niching down allows you to focus on what you do best now and showcase that through your case studies. By doing this you only need to do one or two case studies to start off with before you jump into applying for jobs.
There are a lot of things you can do to stand out with your portfolio and your case studies when you’re embarking on a new career. It’s important to position yourself in a way that highlights your strengths and tells a cohesive story. When you're transitioning into UX/UI design, it’s helpful to start from where you are with what you have, and niching down is one of the best ways to do that.
"When you're transitioning into UX/UI design, it’s helpful to start from where you are with what you have, and niching down is one of the best ways to do that."
By having clarity around yourself and your audience you can kickstart your career in a more focused way.