Having worked as a UX designer for a number of years now, I have come to learn what is critical to succeeding and what can cause you a headache, literally and figuratively! With that in mind, below are, in my humble experience, the top five things every UX designer should know.
- The audience is always right!
No matter how many times you design and then re-design (and then re-design again!) a user journey, you must remember one thing: This is for the user, not you! You may think you have cracked it and mocked-up the perfect user journey but if the audience cannot grasp it, clearly there is a problem. Many times before I have been feeling on top of the world and extremely proud with my work but then I would receive negative feedback. In these circumstances you must just swallow your pride and start again. This is all part and parcel of becoming a good UX designer.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask seemingly stupid questions
What may appear to be simple and logical to you may not be so to your users. We designers all know what the ‘Hamburger Icon’, ‘Flat Design’ and ‘Responsiveness’ are but do our users? In the case of the Hamburger Icon there are many articles (Like this & Like this) on this well-known icon and most of them suggest people are aware of it but are not entirely sure of its purpose. Instead of just presuming that your audience is extremely tech-savvy, why not ask them if they know what a certain icon or a particular button does as you may be surprised at the responses.
3. Do I really need to wire-frame?
Yes, of course you do! Wire frames are the skeletons of our designs. Without them our user’s journey would fall apart and they would not know where to go. This is one of the most crucial aspects of UX design because if you get it wrong, you will ultimately have to start over.
As soon as I download the latest app or use a website, I am immediately thinking about how this interface could be improved? It is this ‘critical analysis’ mind set that all great designers have permanently in operation. But what about those designs that make you think, “Hey that’s a pretty neat design! How could I make something like that?” Well, good news, you can make something good too, if not better. Use these experiences to inspire your future work, make note of what works well within others’ designs, and think about how you could reflect existing designs within your own projects.
- Axure or Balsamiq?
You know what: Who really cares? Aside from technical nuances and UX-industry ‘semantics’ they both do the same thing. At least once in your career you are bound to hear someone say “I can only use Axure (or Balsamiq), it’s the best tool for the job”. But is it really? I have tried many alternatives, – a lot have been free which is great – and sometimes they do certain things better than the big boys. And if you prefer an alternative program to the mainstream ones, don’t be afraid to stand up and say it. I am a big fan of NinjaMock; I don’t claim it’s the best tool for the job but it works well enough for me. Ultimately, it is all about personal preference, but there is also nothing wrong with trying what is out there, old or new.