Today I’m going to dive into what is to be a good UX designer. It will be my personal opinion based on my experience and what I learned throughout the years.
Great design and UX is as important as you leaving home with your wallet. So let’s start with the big question.
What makes a good UX designer?
For me the most important skill is understanding people.
Sounds simple right? Well… it’s not that simple, every person is unique, think differently therefore a good UX designer has to be good at managing users’ expectations. Use empathy to their advantage to understand the users’ needs and come up with a solution to a problem.
Being able to ask for, listen to and use feedback effectively is also a must have for any good UX designer. Always asking for feedback — on designs, after a project ends, when they work with people in other roles. Good UX designers are genuinely interested in how they can improve and become better. Don’t just collect the information and lock it away. Use it.
Take the time to think about the feedback you just received and act on it. Good UX designer will use the knowledge from that feedback in the future. It’s a role where you are constantly learning and growing as a professional.
That’s why I love it! I work at a startup in London and we have what we call “Feature Friday”, every two weeks the whole Fliplet team, all the departments, gather together and the product team, myself included, presents new ideas such as new layouts and news features, for the purpose of gathering feedback and spark internal discussions to take the product to the next level. I use these occasions to show different things, get other people to see it and interact with it, and get as many feedback as I can and also pay close attention on how people explain problems to me, this not only shows me how they think and what they were expecting, but also enables me to come up with a better solution.
Have a process when designing something!
There are 4 important steps that a UX designer should take when working on designing or redesigning a project:
- User Research
User research should be every UX designer’s starting point for a project. Research teaches us about the users, their behavior, goals, motivations, and needs. It also shows us how they currently use our product, where they come up against problems and, most importantly, how they feel when interacting with our product.
Being a good UX designer sometimes means putting your personal taste aside because what you think is intuitive might not work for your users, which is why doing research with the actual users is very important to the success of your designs. You should know that sometimes companies don’t really have a way to research with actual users, in this case base your decisions on research done by others.
Empathy is key here. Your job is to try to understand why users are behaving the way they are when engaging with your product, not to try to change that behavior or influence it, but accommodate it within the product.
As a beginner in UX design, it’s something that I’m still trying to master myself at every given opportunity.
Designing a satisfying user experience involves meticulously planning a Customer Journey for the users and helping them find what they are looking for through an intuitive process.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
- Steve Jobs
The design of your product revolves around functionality and usability, rather than colours or pictures. Having established during your user research what your users expect from your product or site, what their goals are and how they like to operate a system, it is functionality and usability that always comes first.
Usually I like to start with some quick sketches so that I can show a flow to other colleagues and gather even more feedback.
Next I proceed to creating some wireframes that are intended to look at:
- the allocation of space on that page
- the distribution of images and content
- how content is prioritised
- what functions are available
- what behavior is intended and accommodated
After having a visual representation including the results of the user research and feedback from your colleagues you should do a prototype of it. This allows UX designers to explore and experiment with ideas and feedback, as well as check functionality and usability. This is also a great stage to show the project to your colleagues and receive even more feedback, now that they can also explore and engage with your creation, which ties in with the next process.
Testing is a fundamental part of the UX designer’s job and a core part of the overall UX design process. Giving your creation to others for testing it allows you to improve upon the original product design and to see if the changes you made during the “design” phase stand up to scrutiny. It’s a great way to eliminate problems or user difficulties that were unforeseen in the design phase before getting started on the implementation phase.
At Fliplet I like to get the people that have less involvement with the product to test. I always like to do testing with people that have similar skills of those from our clients.
Implementation can vary from company to company. Some UX designers may have to implement the designs themselves due to small teams or budget constraints, fortunately for me, Fliplet has an awesome team of developers and I can leave the implementation of my designs to them and I’m confident they will take good care of it.
If you are in the same position as me, there is still one important step before you hand over the prototype or the designs to developers. You must create a document briefing the developers on what is expected, the functionality need and overall how things should work. This is very important because most developers might not be aware of the project goal, so it’s your job as the UX designer to let them know, so that they can do what they are great at.
Seek inspiration from others and don’t be afraid of being vulnerable
Good UX designers approach problems collaboratively and not defensively, and they admit when they don’t know the answer or when they are wrong. In other words, they show vulnerability and they are honest about it. They ask questions to learn more and they take other people’s thoughts and opinions into consideration before gunning ahead. They look to developers, project managers and others for inspiration and ideas.
Cooperate and be humble. Your team will appreciate!
Still fight for what you believe in, but fight with an arsenal of humility. Don’t make bold claims and proclamations about what will happen, rather, draw others in and rally for the best possible outcome.
I hope you enjoyed this post on how to become a good UX designer.
Until next time, keep on solving problems!