In a world where technology becomes the norm on all levels, the usability, look and feel of the software is as important as the functionality itself. It’s a time when UX is directly affecting sales.
As an entrepreneur heavily involved in the field of UI/UX design/prototyping/wireframing, the main focus for Fluid UI was to solve the problems of designing and prototyping new apps. In order to succeed in that, we need to be very close to the UX designing world and find the needs, the wants, the likes, the hates of practitioners in the field.
Getting closer, through the years, to lots of designers and UXers and needing to have good designers and designers in our own company I’ve started to see many struggles that new UX designers meet; many coming from a totally or mostly creative world with few or no structured way or working to very experienced designers who got into a pretty frustrated place of their career as a UX designer or similar. They were having problems like different UX guidelines and approaches based on demographics, culture, etc.
Based on all the conversations and feedback I’ve received over time, I wanted to, at least, offer a hand of help. Coming from my experience only might help to some extent, but I wanted to also offer the expert perspective, so I sat down with one of the experts in the person of Jill Da silva, Enterprise UX Trainer | Consultant | Entrepreneur | Mentor - Digital Karma.
What I was going after is hitting 7 things that a UX designer needs to know and practice in order for him/her to succeed in this field and see his/her work impacting real people’s lives by the millions even.
So, let’s get into it!
Roll up your sleeves, get busy and show everyone your passion from the work you do
There is no such thing as shortcuts in becoming a UX designer. If you are completely new to this field, you need to get some basic knowledge about UX(what it is, processes, tools). There are quite a few useful articles and places on the web to check for that.
Start and keep building a portfolio, get to know the process a UX person needs to follow everyday, show that you know about the field(not how many classes done, etc.).
Get busy, get experience by doing, trying and making mistakes. Fail fast. Show the passion by showing your portfolio.
UX is mostly about communication: each step of discovery, research and changes
No matter how good you are as a UX person, if you struggle a lot in working in a team, it will be very difficult to see consistent progress in your career.
UX research requires lots of feedback, communication, getting in the mind of the users. For this, of course, people interaction is a must. We recommend staying close to tech hub, meetups, co-working spaces, especially from the area of UX, but not only. This is also beneficial if you are building and designing your own product. Using the co-working spaces as a resource for making your product and company culture better can, sometimes, be a game changer even at the product roadmap level. This is because there you can get honest good user feedback from people who are possible customers, see how others are fighting the same fights(even have a positive relationship with competitors) and so on.
More and more UX Designers start working remotely.
On one hand that is an amazing opportunity, but on the other hand make sure you stay in touch with UX communities around the globe so that you stay on top of changes, perspectives and guidelines in UX.
In order to succeed in a team, you need to build on three elements:
Get involved quickly and a lot!
UX is impacting product design from the actual idea phase. So, get involved in all the discussions that are there, give your best input, do it in a positive way and trust the decision factors.
In order for you to get involved and give your feedback you need to be part of a team that works in an agile fashion. Value that, improve every time and even propose changes if you have the power in the team.
Another thing that becomes the norm, more and more, is releasing fast. This approach, needs again, the involvement of the UX designer in every aspect and stage of the development cycle.
If you are already in a waterfall type company or team, then build your case of going into a more agile approach bringing up the values like: early feedback, costs of fixing things later in the process, cross-teams communication at a very early stage, release fast.
If you are in a leading position, bring everyone together as a team, get them out of their own “cubicle life”. Put everyone together, leading them to work together and enjoying it. One of the most important things in agile is working together very well. Be vigilant about your team and update the methodology and process so it works best for your team. Small projects or side-projects are great platforms to use to make the transition from waterfall to agile. Use a small project as a pilot project for that.
Your “eye” will be one of the most important assets in the team.
As a UX designer or similar, you have the opportunity to really impact a product. From designing small pieces of the product to leading the actual vision of the product, everything is possible.
Through UX research you’ll find the problems of the product from UX perspective and as a UX designer you’ll be the one implementing the solution of those problems.
You can shape the actual product. You can even have a big impact on the vision of that product.
Your “eye” will be one of the most important assets in the team. So keep it focused and sharp.
Don’t be afraid of good or bad reactions. Take the lead and responsibility.
You have the power to make it or break it!
As a UX designer/researcher your work is becoming more and more important as generations and cultures are changing. The focus is growing more into the usability, design and ease of use for every product.
If this part is not done right, sales will be affected. I say this, because many people within the UX world don’t realize the direct connection between their daily work and sales.
It is a lot of fun, but you have the power to make it or break it!
So take courage and responsibility because your work is critical.
The end user will, ultimately, be your boss
Have the end user in your mind always. Also, market research needs to be a part of a ux designer’s job even if it was done at a higher level by management people in the company. Can also be done at a lower, more detailed, level by the ux designer.
Generally, work will come your way from different channels, like: general roadmap, customers feedback, bugs found by QA. As much as the team structure allows, get involved in all of this because you need to feel the pulse of everyone involved, in order for you to make the best ux research and design for any bit of work needed.
Special attention to customer feedback is needed. A well structured and maintained customer feedback channel is mandatory for evaluating and prioritizing of next work and roadmap affecting items. Cover as many part of the world as possible, get feedback from different locations, cultures, languages. Here, at FluidUI, being small, with no US, asia office, we break the hours between the team members and we got to a 4-5 minutes response time. For dealing with different languages in support queries we use basic tools like Google Translate for unknown languages. Keep it all simple, but well structured so support can input easily into product roadmap.
Coming from different channels, work needs to be prioritized. What we do at Fluid is labeling each work item(task, bug, feature) with P1-P4 type of labels. P1(revenue affecting) , P2(major feature/functionality), P3(annoying stuff, but not impacting the general flow), P4 (cosmetic type of issues). The type of user feedback will also affect your “next work”: free users or “possible” customers/users vs current valuable customers. We, at Fluid, don’t build custom features for specific users. Evaluate all improvements ideas and plan based on the roadmap. Plan it so that all different parts of the product gets updated and improved periodically.
Progression changing from UX Designer to Product Designer
Thinking about the last 7 years and next 5 Jill concluded that she sees a change going on in this field, from the UX Designer to the more general and influential Product Designer position where wearing more hats will be the norm(market research, user testing, design, etc.)
Also, tools and technologies will change bringing more value into this field and eventually into the product building, but processes will remain pretty much the same.
There should be a coming together of the processes, approaches and design guidelines all over the world, overcoming the age, cultures, location, etc differences. The user types will get more leveled over the world because of using pretty much same technologies, devices, tools, processes, passion.
If you would like to learn a little more, then you are in luck. We recorded our chat with Jill and it we'd love to hear what you think.