4 Things Every UX Designer Should Know

Shannen Lee
Nov 28, 2018 · 5 min read

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I’m sipping my Chai tea latte on my couch as always. As 2018 is nearly over, I wanted to think about how I spent this year, what I have and haven’t done.

My books or just for decoration

My list of achievements for 2018 and how it went so far:

  1. Get a job as a UX designer
    Yay! I did! I currently work as a Product UX Designer.
  2. Read one book a month
    Worked well before watching Netflix. It totally spoiled my reading habit.
  3. Travel to at least 5 new cities
    Done. I have been to 12 new cities this year so far.
  4. Lose 5kg
    Totally failed. Gained 5kg. One of my goals next year will be losing 10kg instead of 5kg.
  5. Get a boyfriend
    Not yet — though that doesn’t mean I’m not popular. I just have high expectations for a man.🤣

The major achievement of this year is definitely becoming a UX designer (still learning a lot, I’m a baby in this space). Ever since I joined my previous company Ebates (a subsidiary of Rakuten), I have always dreamt about becoming a UX designer.

Why do I want to become one?

  1. I like things that are efficient, practical and simple.
  2. It’s a practice that aims to improve existing flows.
  3. I strongly believe that customers are the ones who build the business, and a UX designer focuses on the needs of the customers.

These cool facts led me to change my profession. There are many things I have to manage and learn daily like how to conduct usability testing, how to gather feedbacks, drawing wireframes, reasoning why we need or change features etc. Although these are the tangible skills needed to be a UX designer, I find that there are more important mindsets which a designer (in any profession) should have.

Imagine people gushing these comments at you:

  1. “Oh, this is not beautiful.”
    The problem with this: Yes, we love beautiful things, but this should not be the main focus. Why? Because when we create products, our goal is to make it function first, and everything second. Even if the goal is to create pretty products, we create with the users in mind, and not for ourselves (including stakeholders). I’m not saying that beauty isn’t important. It is, just not as essential. Aesthetic-heavy feedback can sometimes blur boundaries and mislead us to focus on the beauty aspect of the product. So, constantly ask yourself this: “Am I building the right product? Do users like it?”.
  2. “I will work on it right away, Sir!”
    The problem with this: Having a backbone is crucial. Upon receiving feedback, I often question myself: “Is this a critical issue? Does it have to be fixed right at this moment?” I work to build and improve digital products for the customers and the business, not for the bosses. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t listen to what they tell us, but somehow I feel in many cases, people frequently follow blindly what their superiors say, resulting in delayed plans. Prioritize tasks, not your bosses’ orders.
  3. “What the heck are you talking about?”
    This means there is something wrong with your way of communication: A product is not built by an individual. Most of us work in cross-functional teams and the need to be on the same page is crucial. So when I share my ideas, I explain to the team like they are five years old. As condescending as that sounds, it isn’t. It’s because the team does not know where my ideas originated from. Whilst our ideas sound very natural to us, the same ideas may be too complex or confusing for others. One of the best ways to explain a complicated idea or instruction is to do it visually: presenting a wireframe, develop a flowchart etc. Not only will this save us a lot of time, it will also prevent misunderstandings and help to align the team’s expectations. Don’t write down concepts and plans as if we were working in silos. Do not explain in writings and words. Show me what you mean.
  4. “Am I ready to do this?”
    There’s nothing wrong with asking yourself this. I usually believe in myself. But there are times when I question myself too, especially when something isn’t going well or as planned. As I’ve never taken any courses prior to working as a UX designer, I often wonder and worry about whether or not I was headed in the right direction. One of my colleagues is really smart and his spectrum of knowledge is very wide. So I asked him, “As a UX designer, I’m not sure if I’m doing well or the right thing.”. He answered, “There is no right or wrong thing. If you were educated or took some structured UX design courses, it could have been great, but you might only work in a structured way. It’s better to find and develop your way yourself.”. That was the moment I realized that I should give myself more credit. We can learn while doing. We don’t need to wait to be ready to do something.
Affinity mapping. It’s fun!

So was becoming a UX designer the right decision?

Yes. I love listening to what people feel and think about products. It’s always interesting to see how people behave differently or similarly. I used to think of myself as a perfectionist. I was wrong. I do know that no one is perfect, and so that allows me to be more flexible and to learn new things. Admit your mistakes, learn from it, and forge ahead. Being a UX designer not only fulfills desires for achievement but it also taught me humility and help broaden my perspective on life. Thank you for reading this article.


If you want to collaborate, talk about UX design, or just want to chat, email to me imshannen@gmail.com or connect via LinkedIn.

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