I recently read an article in 52 Weeks of UX on what makes a good UX Designer. In Joshua Porter’s post, he states that he has heard many top companies complaining they can’t find enough good UX designers. So, what does make a good UX designer? I get this question a lot from my students at California College of the Arts, particularly seniors who are about ready to graduate and enter the professional world. A common question is “What will set me apart from the rest?” The list of qualities I’ve heard used to describe a ‘good’ UX designer varies widely depending on who you talk to. “A good storyteller”, “Intuition” “A creative problem solver” “An innovator”. All of these are valuable qualities and I certainly emphasize the importance of them to my students. But as projects become more complex, the ability for designers to take responsibility for how their work lives and breathes out in the world becomes increasingly important and valuable. Doing so requires various strategies and tactics along the way which is a topic in of itself but I thought Porter summarized the difference between a good a great designer here:
The big difference between someone who is a UX professional and someone who isn’t comes back to that word: responsibility. When your job is to provide a positive user experience, you have to do whatever it takes to get it done, from imagining new designs to measuring current ones to make sure they work. You have to advocate for your users when their voices aren’t heard, and align the business objectives with user objectives at every step.
Responsibility. This seems like a given. Of course we all want to advocate for our users and follow up on how our design is being used (or not used). However, putting this into practice can, often times, prove to be difficult in the face of deadlines, lack of resources, high work loads, and client politics. How do you overcome these obstacles? How do you advocate for users throughout the process? How do you measure success? In my own experience, carefully planning strategies that allow time for iterative testing (be sure that testing goals are clearly defined), user research and communication of findings across all stakeholders and team members is key. But beyond this, having, as Porter states, “a culture dedicated to gathering feedback and improving by it, the ability to access customers and web site analytics data, as well as the scheduling ability to iterate and get things done when metrics aren’t going in the right direction.” is key and can in itself create the kind of ‘good’ UX designers that we need. Without a culture that supports this, it can be hard for designers to exercise and maintain this type of responsibility.
In the first part of this topic we would like to hear from the community on the tactics and strategies you use to be a responsible UX designer.
Until next time!