Reality of a UI / UX Designer

An introduction

I’ve been a designer for over fifteen years, and I always been asked the same questions. How do I get my foot in the door? Equity, what’s that? How do I speak to different personas within an organization? Bs office politics?

This publication aspires to help those who want to learn design and business related to the designer, not the user.

Many questions are common knowledge for many, but it doesn’t automatically make it common sense. The same applies to us designers.

Being a designer is more than just: “gather feedback and listen to users”, “this framework is best”, or “this is the best way to structure your design team”. Don’t get me wrong, those are definitely needed, but there’s plenty of books and blog posts out there explaining it better than me. I love to learn from their expertise, but it assumes I already have a job and know what I’m doing.

Before I tell you how to embark on your epic journey of success, the first question you have to ask yourself is “Do I really want this?”.

I imagine you’ve heard great things and thought to yourself “I got this, it’s just bringing common sense to people.”, and to some extent it’s true. But to be a designer, I would like to give you a quick reality check to ensure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

You won’t get recognized much
Sorry, but being a designer sucks sometimes, even if it’s extremely rewarding. In most companies, marketing usually leads, sales teams get all the funding, engineers get the headcount, and designers fight for the user. It’s a constant battle.

The strange part of it all — and the most frustrating part — is companies sell your design, push it as user-focused, but won’t value you when it comes to resources or priorities. This isn’t always true, but many companies still function like this.

You’ll seem biased
No matter what you do, every time you talk about the app — or whatever you’re doing — you’ll sound biased. Designers touch every aspect of an application. That’s the price to pay for caring about the user.

Let go of your ego
You’re not designing for yourself, but for the company and its users. Get it through your head. There’s plenty of designers out there willing to take your place, so stop acting like a diva and learn to take criticism. I mean… the entire job is studying criticism.

I’m gonna make a statistic and say 85% of what you design is vaporware. Constant iteration is a must. Don’t take it personal.

You have to learn business
If you don’t know your business — or business in general — you’re in deep trouble. You need to be able to articulate how your design decisions help the company, not just the user.

Unless you can make the case for: “new feature/improvement = revenue”, you’ll probably lose.

It’s insanely rewarding
You’re what’s standing between user adoption and failure. What you make is what the user sees. The best feeling is having users interact and love your designs. If they get it, and love it, they’ll become active daily users, which equals success and money for the company.

This job is amazing, and I love it more than anything, but if you want to be part of the awesomeness of it, you must learn all aspects, not just the UI / UX part.

I don’t want to seem abrasive. I don’t know all the answers, but we can all offer some advice. If one or two sentences resonate and helps, then it was all worth it. I wrote all this because I believe that being positive is important, but being practical helps you move forward. You must learn the good and the bad to be successful.

This publication will hopefully help you achieve the success you’ll work hard to earn. Let’s do this!