5 UX Strategies to Help You WIN at Work.

As designers I like to think we challenge conventional thinking. This is a collection of some simple strategies that have helped me become a better designer over the past few years.


Get a good notebook.

Don’t just get a good notebook but write actually write things down. Even with all of the apps out there I haven’t found a better way to keep notes and sketches in one place. Taking notes in a notebook keeps you in focus and helps eliminate distractions. I have actually stopped bringing my laptop to feature presentations. One of the most useful things for me, is to write down the reasons behind my design decisions. Often times when working on 4 or 5 product features I find myself looking over designs, trying to remember the reasoning. I really love to use this notebook, it’s lined and quad ruled pages are perfect for UI and UX work. The DotGrid book (from Behance) is pretty good too, a little less portable. Lastly, date all of your notes, mockups, designs, sketches. It will help you remember the timelines of your project and put things into perspective.

“Write down the reasons behind your design decisions…”

Talk to People.

How do you know your design is right? Well sometimes you just don’t. You have designer’s intuition and a sense that it looks and feels right but you only know for sure once its out in the wild. You can however, get a really really good idea from talking to people. Find out who your users are, what they are like, what they do, what they don’t do, what they hate, what sucks… get my point? Talk to them and you will begin to get a clear picture of what they need. Data and analytics can get you there part of the way and help support your hypothesis but actually talking to real people will take you the rest of the way. It will truly help guide you down the right path to designing a product your users love. Asking the rights questions is an art, If you’re interested I recommend picking up “The Mom Test” and giving it a quick read.

“Talk to people, find out what they like, what they do, what they hate…”

Prototype.

Build a prototype. There are some awesome tools out there for building quick workable prototypes and you really have no excuses not to do it. Check out InVision or Marvel. Prototypes (even if they are just for you or your team) let you interact with your concept. You get to experience the flow and all of the small nuances and interactions that might need work or might be missing. Putting your prototype in front of real people is even more powerful because you gain first hand insight into how a user might interact with your product. At this point I would recommend running a user test. This goes back to my first point about talking to people. User tests don’t have to be expensive or very time consuming and they add extreme value to your project if done correctly.

“As designers, I like to think we challenge conventional thinking”

Never stop asking questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how stupid they may seem. As designers, I like to think we challenge conventional thinking. We have to ask the why and how. Get to the bottom of what you are trying to solve, try to understand the underlying motivators or drivers for what you are doing. At the very least you will expand your own knowledge and maybe even get the speaker to think through their reasoning. I have been in many meetings where seeminly small questions have led to big ideas and even a pivot in a design. It’s always better to ask and know then to assume, that’s how gaps in your feature or product form, and then you try to fill them with patchwork.

Iterate.

Sometimes you just have to start fresh. Its difficult to clear your mind especially when working on one product or feature for a while. Build on concepts you already have and try to look at the problem from a different angle. There have been times where I felt like my design was functionally “done” but something didn’t feel right. Iterating on my design eventually led me to a solution that just felt right and when we tested it with users we knew we had it.