5 things I learned working as The UX Team of One

It’s only been a year since my first day flying solo as a UX Designer. It’s hard to imagine how much I have grown professionally and personally in this period. I met remarkable people and learned so much in such a short period of time.

I finally had the time to write down some of the most important lessons I learned in 2018, and how it changed my point of view on the design approach.

1. Learn everything about the business

For most designers this might seem obvious, and yet, it took me considerable time to understand how important that is.

Before you dive into the user’s world, take some time to grasp each aspect of the company. The business model, company vision, long-term goals and strategies to achieve them. Interview CEOs, stakeholders and at least two or three members of every team. You will, not only, engage with your new coworkers, but also, acquire a holistic perspective of the product and business.
Besides, this is the perfect moment to perceive the hopes and expectations of your colleagues about the UX role.

Don’t underestimate the power of knowing your company and its goals, they’ll help you make more cohesive design decisions in the future since you understand where the business is going.

2. You’re not that alone

At first, working as a Ux Team of One felt lonesome. I didn’t have fellow designers to talk about product decisions or to get feedback. However, over time I realized that, in their own way, every team member was pursuing the same goal. Delivering the best service and experience to our clients. This perception shaped my design approach.

I opened the design process to everyone willing to participate and started to mediate small co-creation sessions.

Initially, my colleagues were reluctant but, then they realized how design thinking sessions were entertaining. In the end, the team was very proud to see their ideas being developed and incorporated into the product.

By placing several point-of-views on the project, much more innovative and user-centered solutions started to pop up. I learned that every help is welcome, and bringing everyone onboard rouse a spirit of ownership on my colleagues.

3. Be part of the tech

The work is not finished with a high fidelity prototype or any other UX deliverable. Supporting the development phase is almost as important as design the product. Some significant decisions are taken during this stage and, you might have to reevaluate any design choices.

I was lucky to start working in an Agile environment. The first months were hard to catch-up with the developers. And, even though it took some time, we found the rhythm, and I started to use a more human-centered approach in the process.

Being a part of the tech team helped me to ensure that the guidelines were followed as designed. My knowledge about technology increased, I understood better the effort and cost of a solution and improved my decision-making skills. I acquired enough knowledge to design viable solutions based on our team ability.

4. Document everything

Being the only designer or working with a small team can be difficult. You won’t have time or resources to practice all the UX methods. However, if there is something I learned to mind is the documentation.

Even using guerrilla research techniques, recording the results and process must be part of your routine. I know it means more effort but, you won’t regret recording every user interview, brainstorms, and testing sections.

Having it all documented, will help you when quickly judgments are needed.
It doesn’t have to be a big ass memo with thousands of words. A simple list of insights, photos, and sketches assembled in an accessible place fairly does the job.

A great tool I’m using is Realtimeboard, it is perfect to save all those post-it notes and insights generated in ideation sessions.

5. Be collaborative

Finally, the tools you are using must reflect the environment you are working. I decided to be the most accessible as possible. Every instrument in my design process was chosen based on how easy it was available to every team member.

This mindset emerged from the developers’ struggle to inspect prototypes. They were working remotely and using a different OS. One of them didn’t even have enough space in his hard drive to install a new app. With that in mind, I decided to change my flow in order to help them and every person that wanted to see how the project was evolving.

I won’t say that it is easy. It’s been a challenging journey. With these five tips, I hope you’ll be able to avoid some of the mistakes I made in my path.

Share with me in the comments section your opinions and thoughts. Tell me about your experiences, struggles and what are your solutions.