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User Experience (UX) Designer — if you work in tech, it’s a job title you’re probably hearing more and more often. That’s because UX Designers can uncover insights that could make or break a product, app, or website.
But good UX design can’t be done overnight. It takes time, resources, and a positive working relationship to get the most out of the UX design process.
That’s why we spoke to two UX Designers (and BrainStation alumni) about how clients, colleagues, and UX Designers can work together to deliver the best possible solutions. Here’s what they had to say about misconceptions around UX design and what not to say to UX Designers.
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“This needs to be done today.”
Asking a UX Designer to do a rush job sends a signal that you don’t understand what UX design is, which isn’t a good way to start a project.
“A lot of people don’t fully understand the role of a UX Designer,” says Ara An, a Product Designer who does UX and user interface (UI) work at theScore Inc. “Yes, of course we all want to make our products look awesome, but there’s a lot of research, time, and thinking behind making it pretty.”
Pippa Lyttle, a UX Designer at BBH New York, agrees.
“It can be hard to make people understand the value of UX Designers and that we’re actually problem solvers who go through a process that combines research and strategy to identify issues and design strategic solutions to help solve them,” says Lyttle.
If you don’t know what UX design is, don’t be afraid to ask questions before starting a project (this post about what is UX design is a good place to start, too).
“UX Designers create wireframes.”
Wireframes are an important part of the UX design process that illustrates what a web page or app might look like, but there’s a lot more to UX design than creating wireframes.
“I get the request ‘Can you just quickly create some wireframes for me by end of day?’ quite often and it’s frustrating because you’re not able to go through the proper process to create meaningful design decisions,” says Lyttle.
That process might include setting objectives, developing user personas, analyzing competitors, and brainstorming ideas before any design work is done on paper or on a screen. Once a prototype is in place, UX Designers also do the invaluable work of user testing which helps find ways to improve and solve problems users might run into.
“My role as a UX/UI Designer is to think about the end-to-end journey with each user in mind. There’s a lot of thinking and constantly asking ‘why’ that goes into making a product look good,” agrees An.
“Can you design/code/build this?”
UX Designers can do a lot, but don’t expect them to code a website, do graphic design, and illustrations for one project. Making sure that you understand a Designer’s skillset is a good way to kick off a working relationship that’s more likely to result in an end product that makes you both look good.
“I wish that others understood that UX Designers are not Graphic Designers. There are so many different Designer roles – UX Designer, UI Designer, UX Architect, UX Strategist, Web Designer, Motion or Interaction Designer, Illustrator, Graphic Designer – the list goes on and some clients expect us to know it all,” says An.
An recommends asking questions and taking the time to learn about what different types of designers do before meeting the design team.
“I don’t like this color, size or shape.”
It’s important to remember wireframes or sketches are not the final product, and that what you see will be polished later on. That’s why it’s not helpful when clients get held up details like the font, the color of a page or the size of a button on a wireframe.
“I once had a client who would question everything from the shape of a button to the color grey we were using in our wireframes. This made the project take so much longer because we constantly had to remind the client to focus feedback on flow, function, features, and content,” says Lyttle.
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“I am the user/I understand the user, so…”
It’s almost impossible not to imagine yourself as the user of a product you’re creating, but getting sidetracked by your personal opinions can stall the UX design process.
“Sometimes clients forget that we aren’t designing for them, but for their users,” says Lyttle.
“When this happens you get feedback that’s based on personal opinion and doesn’t make sense for your user, which then forces you to constantly defend your design decisions over and over again.”
Remember that user research is data-based evidence that’s been gathered and analyzed with the project goals in mind. It’s the UX Designer’s job to apply that research to make the best possible design decisions.