Millions of users depend on your design decisions: Dealing with the pressure of being a product UI/UX designer
You’ll start making better design decisions if you read to the end…
Being a product UI/UX designer is exciting and fun on the Artboard, until that little voice comes reminding you again that a little decision you make could either make or mar a product or even the reputation of a startup (because it all still boils down to a startup’s product). It might not seem so, but that’s quite some pressure on a Product designer. A part of the success of a Digital product is dependent on your thinking! How convenient..
Not only is design trying to get at the essence of the thing being designed, it also has to decide how that thing fits within larger contexts of the many other things that have been designed. It asks you to question whether the thing being designed is really what you think it is or if you should discard all your work and start over again. Decisions have never been tougher to make
Design vs Decision-making
Design as a verb is described as:
design (verb) — to plan and make decisions about (something that is being built or created)
Does that mean multiple roles in one job? Maybe.
Decision making and Problem solving are usually considered skills that are highly required in some certain jobs, and Product Design is definitely tops on that list.
I like to compare Product Design to building the structure of a house. What’s a first floor without the ground floor? What’s the second floor without the first floor? What are the walls without the metal rods? What are the doors without the hinges? What are the lavish house interiors without a completed building?
Every house differs from the next in some certain ways although there’s a general standard or expectation of how a house should be and what sections should exist in it, but imagine a house built with absolutely no toilet in sight? ‘Like reeaally?? Am I supposed to use the kitchen sink??’
Every design decision is either a users nightmare or a users best experience. You get to also decide on that
So what’s the best approach to making good Design Decisions?
I’m sharing just two. And that’s enough to ease the pressure….
1. Putting your user’s first..
The best way to make better design decisions is having a good understanding of the users you’re building for. This will pump some Empathy in you because now you better understand their painpoints and frustrations and that’s why you’re there — to make their lives and experiences much better. This is where User Research comes in.
A house without a toilet or bathroom was probably built in a hurry, or the architect didn’t just care. I mean, he definitely does have a toilet in his home but he probably didn’t take out the time to understand that the house-tenants would need a functional bathroom because it’s a necessity.
Knowing your users will help to make decisions like where to place certain elements, whether to use a certain UI pattern or not (even if it’s trending), deciding if or not to include a text-to-speech feature in case a number of users of the product will be deaf, etc.
Also, knowing the type of users you’re building for will help you to respect design boundaries and not just copy someone else’s design because like I said earlier, all houses are expected to have some basic similarities but not all houses will look and function alike. Each house is designed to function based on the kind of occupants that will live in that house. Your users are unique and so are your design decisions. You dig?
Our job is to make a product stand out, and a product standing out means that we must put the users of the product first
2. Wearing the shoes that probably don’t fit: Experiencing it first-hand
Take a short break and play an actor’s role for a minute. Paint a scenario. Let’s say you’ve been designing an App that helps college students browse through food menus and place orders for food easily but now it’s time to play the role of your user in a particular scenario. This can be done using the UI prototype or just mockups of the screens.
In this scenario, you’re a first time user who is really hungry and just wants to get his order done with already.
Start from the Splashscreen to the Signup/Login pages. Now pause and be honest with yourself.
Did you feel satisfied? Did you get that ‘wow’ feeling? Or Did you get a few questions of ‘where am I supposed to click next?’
Keep on going. Move on to your Home Screen. Try browsing/searching for a food you really crave at that moment. Pause. How easy was it for you to discover that you could actually search/browse for a specific meal? Were you distracted by the elements on the Home Screen?
Keep going. You find the food/dish you’re really craving to eat. You hurriedly view details of the food (i.e price, delivery price, delivery time, etc.) and then you click to buy and proceed to checkout and all of that payment process.
What did that experience feel like? Were you happy that you didn’t have to go through a hurdle just to order your meal? Or did you feel like you were stressed finding and ordering for your meal?
Take note of all of these and give yourself honest feedback. You’ve just stepped into the shoes of your users, and just maybe it didn’t fit.
If it fits just perfectly, then you’ve done a good job and you can work on brushing things up a little.
However, if it doesn’t fit right, then it’s time to find the loopholes that are missing in your user-journey flow and iterate and if you do this right, it’s bound to be a much greater user experience because you’ve felt the heat for yourself and you know what it feels like firsthand so you probably don’t want to have a not-too-good experience next time.
Design forces us to make the best decisions we can at each step of the way even if that decision is to turn around and start right up the journey again following a different route.
User’s don’t know the 100 design decisions you took to get to the one final decision. They only want to experience it .
As a Product UI UX designer, I like to believe that I’m paramountly a decision maker. If I’m presented with a couple of design decisions to make, I have to make the best decision that favors the users (and not myself simply because I am the designer). I might be part of the users so that could also influence my decision but it’s important to think ‘Users’ and not just ‘User’.
Remember this in your next projects — Millions of people depend on you already, or will soon.
…and You’re dependable.
Thanks for reading!