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UX Designers Secret Sauce!

Monday, Oct 19, 2020
Randa Victor

Senior UX Lead

03 Posts

A UXer is not only a designer, an artist, or an analyst. A UXer is a meticulous researcher and a careful thinker. UX work is not limited to sketches, prototypes, or visuals. It is way much more!

If there is a secret sauce for being a great UXer, then the below are the ingredients. 

1. Choose What to Compromise

A UXer should have the guts to compromise. You should be able to choose an option over others, and most importantly, be able to let go. At some point, you will have to compromise something. 

Sample Challenge:

A "good looking" button that is hard to grasp its functionality vs a "working" button which doesn't look that good.

Suggested Actions:

  • Set an objective. Ask yourself what is the goal of this button? Will it impact the usability if users don't understand how it works?
  • If the answer is yes, then you will need to change how it looks. If the answer is no, then keep it as is.

Don’t forget that we are UXers. So how it works is more important than how it looks. Make it both look good and work well to be sure that you are on the right track!

Never compromise the ease-of-use! 

2. Never Stop Researching

A UXer should have good research skills! UX without research is meaningless. So, always search for similar cases, similar experiences and similar examples that you can build on. Some designers believe that creativity means making something new from scratch! Well, this is when and where you start failing.

Learn to benefit from previous experiences and build on them. And while researching teach yourself. Keep on learning new thing: new tools and new methodologies. Never stop reading, studying and researching.

Sample Challenge:
Imagine that you are working on an experience design for an e-commerce mobile app.

Suggested Actions:

  • Start the research from wide angles to smaller ones 
  • Start searching for the platform guidelines. That’s for the structure of the app itself.
  • Search for similar e-commerce tools, apps, solutions. That’s for supporting the business need.
  • Then go into details. These can be searching for items inside the app, let's' say the navigation, which type is most commonly used, why it is recommended, why is it used, and what is the best navigation practices in e-commerce apps.

Here are some good resources here to help you in your research:

Research like a boss! 

3. Humble “Under-standing”

Now its time to open to new and different suggestions. Exercise being flexible and a good listener! Listen, receive, under-stand the user and any feedback. It’s called “under” stand because it’s about putting your ego down to be able to receive other points of view.

Sometimes the UX role is more of a coordinator than a designer. So, gather, arrange and then put information in the correct order. All inputs should be from outside first then the inside. Don't focus on what you think or feel. Let go of your ego to build good products and coordinate with all stakeholders!

Sample actions to help you get more humble in your work:

  • Ask for help
  • Ask questions
  • Recognize your mistakes
  • Value the opinion of others
  • Be receptive to the unexpected

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.” - Rick Warren 

4. Embrace Failure!

Always keep enhancing and iterating. Remember; nothing is born perfect! Accept downfalls and failures! We learn from failing. If you did it wrong this time, instead of getting disappointed, encourage yourself! Your learning curve will just grow higher. You will know what didn’t work and why. You get to try other fresh and new approaches.

Here are some tips to move forward in case of failures:

  • Don’t blame yourself 
  • Look at the bright side: how you can do better next time
  • Write down the learnt lessons
  • Never give up!

Woody Allen shared once that if you don't fail once a while, it can be alarming. It is a warning sign that you are not doing anything too inventive. 

5. Organize Work & Thoughts

If you are not well organized, you will most probably get lost in artboards, pages, decisions, and plans. This will slow your decision making, increase rework, hinder progress and make you feel uncomfortable. So, make sure everything is in place! This includes:

  • Projects
  • Layers/symbols
  • Emails
  • Layouts
  • Thoughts and ideas 

Organize your own mind map too. Follow design principles as much as possible.


Here are some tips for a well-organized mindset:

  • Follow consistency in the same design, same titles, same colors, same styles, etc.
  • Apply Gestalt laws in the UI.
  • Don’t ignore any user/client feedback. Note them down and add them to the project folder.
  • Review your own output before delivery.
  • Keep on asking questions until you understand all the details. Make sure to write them down.

 Don’t Forget to Set Priorities!

This is the time to prioritize! Prioritize everything including the tasks, values, items, and comments. Nothing should be of equal priority. Always set different values and put everything in the correct sequence with correct estimated efforts. Time-box every item based on its priority.

Here’s a sample for a good folder structure

Read more about structure and organizing your workspace here.

6. Be Proactive

Take positive actions, move on, call people instead of freezing or waiting for things to come. Always move to the next step. 
Tips to think of:

  • Wear the decision maker hat! Don’t wait for your manager or business owners to decide for you. Search and think about the problem, find solutions and have the courage to decide which direction us better to be applied.
  • Be persistent! A good UXer is a fighter! So, don’t let it go and keep finding ways and workarounds till you are satisfied with what you deliver! 
  • A UXer should always strive for and run after information. Don’t wait for someone to bring givens. Go to users, ask them! Go to clients and make sure you understand their needs very well. Don’t just sit at your desk and wait!

Don’t follow, LEAD!

UXers are not just designers, they are leaders and good communicators. Assertive communication and effective negotiation skills are very important aspects that any UXer should have to be able to lead the team to the right path.

A good UXer needs to know how and when to communicate his/her insights and be wise enough to receive feedback, inputs, and comments without rigid thinking and with a very agile attitude to properly sell the idea. 

  • Practice the art of communication and negotiations to be influential in selling your idea. 
  • Build bridges between different disciplines in your organization.
  • Collaborate.
  • Connect with people in the company.
  • Learn the industrial and user experience needed to excel and act as a problem solver.

This is how your ideas will fly. This is how you can lead! 

UXers need to "sell" ideas!

Good UXers are the ones who can stand up for what they believe in, equipped with materials, researches and data-driven inputs that drive their deliverable to shinning light. Have the courage to say “No”. Communicate your point of view clearly and stand up for your design! 

7. Take Care of the Details 

A mandatory skill in any UXer is to be a detail-oriented person. Details are the components that formulate the whole picture, especially in UX work where you start with building prototypes and wireframes. So, make sure you add up all the details and don’t skip any. It is unwise to deliver a mere, generic overview. Include line widths, font sizes, paddings and all the rest!

Details make a picture complete!

UX design is a package that includes a diverse range of items such as containers, shadows, buttons and most importantly “TEXT”! We don’t only produce layout. Rather, we produce a whole solution in addition to delivering the journey of experiencing such a solution. It can never be complete without text and content.

A designer is not photoshop, nor sketch or XD!

I hear a lot of designers say: “I don’t know what to write here! Or, I don’t know how to write at all. I only design”. Well, this is definitely a solid step for an early downfall. 

You need to choose the content of your art piece very carefully. Don’t use dummy text. Check the spelling. Use real data. And, select words wisely. 

Work on your writing skills. Learn how to deliver a whole package of good UX experience!

Suggested Actions:

  • Alignment between components
  • Colors and consistency
  • Margins should all be equal
  • Text should all be real content 

8. Don’t Fall in Love with your Design

Now that's a tricky topic! A UXer should be super objective when it comes to judgement. You should have an open mind capable of listening to users inputs and continuous changing and rebuilding. If you get too attached to your design, you will never be able to enhance it. Your will never be able to start over or craft an exciting small change in it.  Any edit will be considered offensive. This is the exact opposite of what you want to achieve.

You are not your design!

UX is about the user not about UXers. Designs should be subjective to users and objective in every single item added. UX designers need to know how to discus their design and provide real meaning behind their inputs. They need to be data-driven, user-driven and ready to explain the logic for their work.

Don’t design what you feel!

There should be a reason behind everything you design. Back up your design integrity with sound explanations and good clarifications. Uxers are not the users. Designing by gut feeling could mislead you to to what users actually love and want to engage with. 

Design is not a lucky choice of colors! 

9. Keep Sketching!

Always sketch, think on papers, draw, and use colors. Get your hands dirty. Don’t just design in your imagination or “I think it won’t work”. Try it out! Step by step, things will get much clearer and more meaningful. 

Here are some tips for you:

  • Always write your thoughts on paper
  • User papers without lines to be able to draw and sketch while thinking
  • Don’t fear drawing a wrong line. And, keep on drawing wrong lines until you find the correct one.
  • Use colors and different types of pens and highlighters 

10.  Don’t forget to create a rocking presentation!

You might be delivering a very good piece of work but your missed to wrap it in a nice cover! Remember: first impressions are everything!

You cover and presentation will definitely affect how people look at your deliverables. If they are not comprehensive and are unattractive; most of viewers will most likely shun away. Your meticulous efforts will be most likely be wasted. 

Your presentation is what you are wearing today!

Here are small tips for creating an attractive presentation:

  • Keep it short and simple
  • Write less, draw more, and use images.
  • Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Choose and order the presentation in accordance with what he wants to see first.
  • Give space for questions and feedback  

The Takeaway

Work smarter not harder!

Take care of what you are compromising. Take care of your choices and decisions. Be productive and efficient. Communicate well. Dig deep into the details and take the lead!

 

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