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Tips for UX Designers

June 2016 – Guillem Carbonell

In an honest and frank interview, UXswitch spoke to Guillem Carbonell about the frustrations that designers face on a day to day basis and how to tackle them.

In words of Turi McKinley of frog design, “design is problem solving”. Designers are here to realize the needs of other people and to infer possible solutions. Along the way, we rely on the help of marketers, engineers and all kinds of parallel disciplines to make it happen. If you are a newcomer to design, you must embrace the fact that you are about to work with other people. Working with other people means that you need to get ready to face challenges from both external and internal sources.

Politics

We’ve all come across politics at work generated by the interests of the individuals within a project team or wider organisation. It’s part of the human condition. As a designer, you should remember that you are just another political protagonist.

In words of Hartmut Esslinger, founder of frog and author of A Fine Line,

“Outsized egos, personal ambition, defensive behaviors, and inaction all can wreak their own damage to the innovation process.”

The output of functions like Development or Finance are tangible i.e. code and figures. But Design output is subjective and sometimes, depending on the internal systems and expertise, not very well tracked or evaluated. Therefore, accept the fact that whatever you do is going to be subject to personal opinion.

Listen and observe the motivations your coworkers. Do not be afraid to argue your case using objective design principles, competitor analysis and other such tools. Carry out guerrilla testing to put sticky issues to bed. After all, it will be difficult for someone else to defend their views should a significant number of users stumble in testing. In terms of metrics, ask whether you can access Google Analytics or implement tools like Hotjar on your website. That’ll show paths through the site, conversion points and so forth. Back it up as much as you can, remove the potential unfounded personal perspectives.

Unicornism

The world is full of job offers asking developers to be a designers, sales people or data experts and so on. Nowadays, adaptability is key in many ways. However, I think our duty to emphasise the importance of specialization and provide a fairly clear and closed set of services. Whenever we start ignoring this, we open gates to executives trying to save money by employing a “jack of all trades and a master of none”. Design, revenue and ultimately users suffer from this approach.

The requirements you work towards can often shift from day to day. Sometimes managers just expect you to jump to the beat and comply with the change. Such requests may be impractical but it’s important to be flexible, to a degree. If they happen on a consistent and unsustainable basis, you can chose to leave any such environment or to try and deal with it. All you can do is to calmly highlight to the Product Manager/Owner/UX Manager the impact on the user experience, potential revenue (e.g. less conversion) and your workload or motivation.

Esslinger summarizes the challenging relations in between designers and their ecosystem: “designers become true professionals […] when they grasp the connections among business, money, and power, and then user their creative competence to arrive at the same goal their business partners are working toward.”

Stress

Meeting deadlines and fighting your corner while purporting to have an independent mind can lead to a maze of inner conflicts and anxiety. My advice is that professionals whose output is open to outward criticism (like Designers) should seek out colleagues and managers with strong emotional intelligence, those that are dedicated to motivate and support the people around them. After all, if you are stressed, the quality of your design work is likely to be compromised. Irene Au speaks extensively about the importance of designers practicing Mindfulness at work and how design output can be improved because of it.

Another factor that might contribute to stress at work is comparing your designs to the achievements of other designers. This can also be very counterproductive. We all make mistakes, oversee detail or make assumptions. Punishing yourself for your self perceived mediocrity will not help you, or the user. Don’t worry, even the greatest minds have questioned their own merit from time to time. Remember, great designers solve these personal conundrums as well as tricky interaction challenges.

Guillem Carbonell

 

Guillem Carbonell is currently Chief Designer at www.ftang.es and studied New Media and Digital Culture in the Netherlands.

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Source link http://www.uxswitch.com/how-to-destroy-a-good-ux-designer/

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