Things I learned from my first project with a real client.

I recently finished my first UX project with an actual real client and the insights I gained will have a lasting effect on me as a designer. The following are the three main takeaways:

#1 Always Design Mobile First

During this project, my team was lucky to have design reviews with other UX design professionals. The day we had design reviews, I was feeling really confident — I liked the new iteration and redesign of the homepage a million times more than the first iteration and I was excited to share and get feedback. I put my design up on a 50” TV and the very first thing the Sr. UX Designer asked me was to see my responsive mobile iteration. I had been so caught up on focusing on the desktop version that I forgot entirely about what my design would be like as a mobile responsive site.

I feel grateful for that gut punch feeling happening in a peer review instead of in front of the client. I have since incorporated Mobile First into my design process workflow.

#2 Balancing Research Findings With What The Client Wants

Something that I love about UX is that I can be confident about design decisions because they are validated and backed by research. I presented the client with a ton of research on how and why auto-rotating carousels are not effective and we received pushback from the client on this issue. At first, I felt discouraged (only for about 20 minutes) and then I put my head down and thought to myself “Hey! Your job is to solve problems and now you have a problem to solve so let’s get busy!” Moving past those roadblocks really forced creativity out of me and ultimately a better end product for the client.

#3 Less Design Time; More Testing

Due to resource and time constraints, I was not able to conduct usability tests on my final design for the homepage. The designs were based off research so I still feel confident about them but if given more time, I would test them further. I spent a lot of time and energy designing and writing copy when I wish I would have been real time testing my designs. We were upfront with the client that these designs needed to go through A/B Testing and Usability testing and they appreciated the honesty and insight.

A few weeks ago I heard a quote that said something along the lines of “Designs can fail, Designers shouldn’t” and it has really been sinking in that the only way to grow as a designer is to make mistakes and learn from them. I’m excited to continue to see my growth as a designer through my experiences.

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