Cultivating a Growth Mindset in User Experience Design

Intertwining the UX Micro and Macro Learning Environments

Cross section of a tree revealing growth periods and environmental influences.

Microscopic surroundings are infinitely fascinating. We can zoom in on details not perceivable at first, such as year marks, layer thickness, fiber composition, or color tinting. However, no matter how much data we can gather from this type of detailed micro view, we also have to understand that it does not reveal some other sets of metrics. For example, we do not yet know that trees like to be with other trees, or that their seeds are carried by certain wind conditions.

Old growth forest.

Macroscopic surroundings, on the other hand, linked by context, reveal the opposite–trees grouped together to form a complex system, a forest, that can be viewed in its entirety only from a distance.

UX design spans both of these worlds, and everything in between

While we might view the microscopic aspect as the research environment where insights are discovered, and the macroscopic aspect as the design environment where solutions emerge, the same is true vice versa. Each environment is dependent on the other. They do not exist individually.

We start to understand that evolutions are brought about by collective behaviors carried out individually by human interactions.

When we look at a tree in terms of its life years, we might be looking at many more years than a human life. This represents the UX growth mindset as well, basically the condition that we are not identifying finite solutions, rather, we are looking to adapt to ever changing parameters, even the ones that we are not be able to capture yet.

A UX growth mindset keeps us organically linked to change

When we conduct UX research, we become the advocates for users. We want the users to tell us their experience with the product freely and without constraint. To achieve this symbiotic state of mind, we encourage users to relate their stories back to us so that we can emphatically embrace their problems. It is the UX designer’s challenge to then arrive at solutions that answer these pain points.

When we talk of a UX growth mind set, we embrace listening to and empathy for the users.

The values of the product lie in the users’ stories

Tree roots of a tree in the Ecuadorian rain forest.

Every user story is deligthfully unique and uniquely delightful. We embrace distinctive and individual experiences. And yet, we also strive to get an indication of how a user feels when interacting with the product. For instance, when we conduct user interviews, we want a broad range of feedback, a barometer for reading the emotional responses, something that can lead us to more specific questions as to WHY a user has these emotions.

The beauty of UX research emerges when we see both the trending patterns in WHAT works well, and furthermore, WHY users might still encounter pain points.

In summary

A growth mindset is ready to embrace the positive evolutions as well as harder hitting truths of why some aspects of a product might not be producing the the end points users are expected to achieve. As UX designers, we have to stay open to any metrics and responses, in both directions, micro and macro.