I am a User Experience Designer. I design products thinking about how the person that will use them will experience those products. I could have chosen different paths, but this is what I love to do… and here are a few reasons why:
- It is a service for others — The design process, the creation of the product, what features it should have, how it should behave… it all comes down to serving others. It is a service. I don’t do it thinking about me. I do it thinking about others, about how their lives will improve and consequently how the world around them will be changed.
- It is a constant exercise in empathy — The design is only good when I succeed in placing myself in the shoes of the person who will use the product. I think about the context in which this person will use the product. I ask myself questions such as: ‘is the user multitasking when using the product?’ or ‘is the user in a rush?’ or ‘does the user trust this transaction or feel safe in this interaction?’. I try to understand the user’s feelings, asking questions such as: ‘is the user overwhelmed?’ or ‘is the user anxious?’. Imagining how someone feels in different contexts requires a lot of observation and 1-1 conversations. I am currently creating products at Chegg, an education company. To familiarize myself with students and how hard their lives are I read student blogs, I chat with students when I meet them and every time I have a chance I go to a school/college and observe, talk to students. I need user research to put myself in their shoes. These learnings help me to generate empathy, and empathy helps me to create better product experiences for students.
- It is exciting work — There is no better feeling than to fill a white canvas with great design solutions to a challenge. When I think about design, I think about solving problems, I love to get a blank sheet of paper and try out a bunch of different solutions to see what sticks. I start wireframing, drawing lines, boxes, buttons, containers and imagining how the interaction of the user with that product will be. It feels great. It is fun, creative and stimulating work. Good for the soul.
- It is a team endeavor — I don’t design in a vacuum. I receive feedback from engineers, product managers and other designers. Most of all, I receive feedback from those who will be using the product through user research and usability studies. Receiving feedback, recognizing others can contribute to building something even better than what I imagined is awesome. I get to improve on my original idea through teamwork. In other words, feedback makes me a better designer because what I design gets better through feedback and iterations.
- It requires discipline — Discipline does not sound like fun. It usually isn’t. But when I am designing, it is very much a central aspect of it, mostly making sure that the design is simple. This requires the discipline of constantly asking a few important questions such as:‘what is the user goal?’ or ‘will this feature help the user to get to his/her goal?’. The discipline of asking these questions allows me to say ‘no’ to features and functionality that although may be real cool,would generate a complex interaction between the user and the product. My goal is to always have a simple, frictionless interaction, and that only comes into being through steady discipline.
- It allows for user delight — The sense of joy upon seeing a person using a product you designed is incredible. Even more incredible is hearing their visceral responses such as a “Wow” or “this is cool” or “is this out yet? Can I use it? It will help me so much”… Hearing such things make all the hard work, the hours of ideation, mocking, wireframing, doing user research and pushing pixels seem… well, freakin’ worth it!
In the grand scheme of things, I design because I want to make the world a better place. Creating remarkable products is the way I found to contribute to a better world. And that is why I design.
Follow me on twitter: @diegomendes