I previously wrote a blog post entitled Hiring a UX Designer? 6.5 Questions to Ask that has been well-received so I’m returning to the topic by digging in to some aspects in more in depth and adding some new info.
One problem with hiring a UX Designer when you are not, yourself, a UX Designer, is you might know exactly what a UX Designer does. Your goals may be to “make your product look better” or the improve your app’s “ease of use” or something similar. But what activities are carried out that lead to these goals? And what is a reasonable tangible goal that a UX Designer can help you achieve. You likely know that talking to your customers is an important part and yet, how does that activity translate into product improvement. Here I’ll highlight some “behind the curtains” info on UX Design. It isn’t magic, but when you see the right evidence that meaningful improves your product’s customer service, it might feel like magic.
UX as a process
Unfortunately, there is no “magic sprinkle” of UX. The key to good UX is tracking user actions over time and using creative concepts to see if you can delight users just a little bit more and most importantly actually speaking to them. “Speaking” is not a euphemism for survey or for social media, it means actually setting up user interviews, asking well-planned questions, and reporting on the results. If your UX Designer is not doing this, you should halt all activities and start this immediately. UX is a process; it is both art and science. The science should inform the art and then cyclically, the art should be the baseline for new science. One feeds the other in a manner that each iteration brings improvement. If you are unsure about the progress that a designer is making, focus on the question, “how will this impact what decisions we make in the product?”
UX as learning
The goal of UX research is to learn. We want learn something about the user that we did not already know. It can be even the a very small aspect of the product. Those often times can have a huge impact on the overall user experience. So consider the question, “what do we want to learn?” from this test that we are running. Also, if everyone in the room is in agreement, consider testing the exact opposite with your users. You’ll be surprised by how often you are wrong about what your users want. One aspect of learning that is essential is to test specific ideas, holding all other aspects constant. This is important because when you change too many things at once, you lose the ability meaningfully understand what change had what specific impact. Now if you know you have a bunch of things wrong or clunky in your product, by all means, fix them. Once you have a baseline, not a perfect product, but a mainly-free-from-glaring-UX problems, proceeding with testing is a great way to learn. Remember to document your learning. That is an important part of the getting the most value out of the UX process.
In Hiring a UX Designer? 6.5 Questions to Ask, I recommend asking the interview question: “What is one problem that you have solved for a user that is invisible but enhanced the user experience?” I love this question. I can’t help it. It is just so important. If all you do as a designer is “add” you are not a good designer. To remove is absolutely necessary for good design. Good design often means less visuals and more thinking behind the scenes.
So consider these less-than-well-known aspects of UX when working to hire and develop your UX process.
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