More than anything, UI/UX design is about empathy.

Understand the user-stories and the experience will reveal itself.

I recently read Joshua Taylor’s piece entitled “Designers shouldn’t code. They should study business.” and I couldn’t agree more with him. In particular, I liked the way in which he articulated how, as designers, we need to listen more and understand the business as a whole.

“Maybe its talking to the sales team to understand what the market looks like. Maybe it’s talking to shipping and fulfillment to understand why orders are always a day late. Maybe it’s reading over the Q1 projections and finding out that the key initiatives for the quarter have nothing to do with refactoring your CSS.”

About a year ago, I did a series of talks for Refresh Charleston, a speaking series for Charleston, SC’s creative community. In these talks, I concentrated heavily on empathy as my guiding principle to getting to design’s happy-place — that oh-so-illusive storyboard where all parties are high-fiving like Goose & Maverick. And I mean all parties: the biz team, the marketing team, the sales, the company’s end users, and the dev team. Maybe especially your dev team (that’s a different article though). Am I leaving anyone out? If so, make them happy too.

And how do you reach these fields of Elysium? You shut up and you listen.

“Understand the user-stories and the experience will reveal itself.”

This my friends is honestly my mantra. And don’t confuse ‘user-stories’ with the end user. Empathy is not limited to the end-user. Understand how everyone “uses” your work. The biz team needs to believe in it, the marketing team needs to rep it, the sales team needs to be able to sell it, the dev team needs to be able to build it, and yes, obviously the end user needs to be able to sit down and use it.

So yes, I agree with Josh’s piece. If you want to succeed in UI/UX, first do your homework on the business, then do the rounds and listen to all the user-stories.

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