Few weeks ago, I met my friend Christina for coffee.
We were catching up and started talking about work. I asked her, ‘How did you become an amazing UX designer?’
Christina works for a reputed company in California as a UX designer.
I’m about to tell you everything that Christina told me.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle
It is no surprise that we are creatures of habit. Everything we think, say, and do, is a result of habits imprinted into our minds through many years of repetitive behavior. Those very same habits either drive us forward or hinder our progress in life.
I asked her what it had to do with UX designing.
She told there was a connection.
These are the habits she cultivated over the time which helped her reach her current position.
1. User testing sessions
“The whole point of human-centered design is to tame complexity, to turn what would appear to be a complicated tool into one that fits the task, that is understandable, usable, enjoyable.” – Don Norman
Becoming a competent UX designer isn’t something that can be taught in 10 minutes. But, if you can find users and study them, you’ll be able to create a better design. The more you see people using the product, the better your designs will be.
2. Have a discussion
“It’s often said design is a dialogue between designer and user. We talk to users about what they want and need. We discuss projects with our colleagues to examine problems and uncover solutions.”- Emmet Connolly
Have meaningful discussions with designers, developers, and customers. Such discussions will help you shift from a predictable deliverable focused approach to an outcome-driven approach. It is the main tool used by modern age designers to deliver a brilliant solution.
3. Choose your words wisely
“Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.” –KushandWizdom
You spend most of your time communicating- in meetings, emails, conversations and conference calls. You know it is important to talk to people, but sometimes they don’t get what you say. So make sure you’re not the problem, choose simple words when you converse. Do everything you can to get your message across.
4. Get away from the computer
“When you are stuck, walk away from the computer and draw. It will teach you how to see.”— Gerard Huerta
Now and then, designers face roadblocks and they have their own way of dealing with it. Whatever you choose to do, step away from your computer for a while. Get some air, take a walk, talk to a friend or sleep on it. Once you’re clear, you can proceed.
5. Dig into the fundamentals
“Going back to basics strengthens your foundation.”-Unknown
When a problem arises, jumping to conclusions is natural. But, you need to pause. See if you’ve got the basics right. Areas you’ve never even considered will come out if you brush the basics. So research, plough through the basics, talk to customers and then go about your ideas.
6. Check for ease of access
“Accessible design is good design – it benefits people who don’t have disabilities as well as people who do. Accessibility is all about removing barriers and providing the benefits of technology for everyone.” — Steve Ballmer
When creating a design, you must consider a wide range of audience. Some may be color blind, partially sighted or disabled. Also, some may have problems using technology. The designs you create must be easily reached by everyone.
7. Prefer content over design
“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” –Jeffrey Zeldman
You may have created a killer design which has all the latest trends but, if your content isn’t compelling enough, your design won’t reach your audience. Without proper content, you won’t be able to convince people to buy your product.
8. Have a process
UX without a process is like driving aimlessly without knowing how to reach a destination. You can reach it, but the chances of getting there at a reasonable time will be slim. No matter the project, you must have a clear cut process.
9. Always give first priority to users opinion
“Socrates said ‘Know thyself. I say ‘know they users’ And guess what? They don’t think like you do.”-Joshua Brewer
As a designer, you will have opinions about your designs, but a user’s view is more important than yours. Make sure to listen to the opinions of the products user, as it matters the most.
10. Simplicity won’t work out in every situation
“Simplicity is not about deprivation. Simplicity is greater appreciation for things that really matter.”- Kaitlyn Dee
Simple designs are good, but being simple for the sake of being simple won’t work. Just to make your design simple, don’t miss out on important aspects like content.
11. A good design is a mixture of several things
“Good design keeps the user happy, the manufacturer in the black and the aesthete unoffended.”- Raymond Loewy
Always keep in mind that you’re designing not only for the user but also for the stakeholder. As designers, you have to back the users but, the stakeholder also has a say in it. In some situations, you have to do what the stakeholder wants even if the user doesn’t. Always choose your battles wisely.
12. Know why a design is required
“For me the context is key, from that comes the understanding of everything” – Kenneth Noland
If you’re working on something where you’re unable to find a solution, figure out why the company decided to create a design initially. Once you find this out, you can rationalize with it and work accordingly.
13. Your design is for users, not competitors
“Don’t focus on the competition, they’ll never give you money.” – Jeff Bezos
In this competitive world, it is easy to design something similar to your competitors. However, you need to validate it with the customers, if they are okay with the design then proceed. If not, don’t do it.
14. Take a breath
All the above points will be tough to implement if you don’t figure this out. Always make it a point to slow down in order to remember what’s important.
On a closing note, when you buy an electronic item, you experience it in the store before you buy it. If you’re disappointed in your experience, you don’t buy it.
Same goes for UX designing. You have to experience the product, to create the just the right design.