2 years worth of wisdom. Or non-wisdom.
A few days ago was my 2 year anniversary at StatMuse (visit us) and subsequently also my 2 year anniversary as a UX/UI Designer! Although I am happy that we’ve shipped multiple responsive websites, a brand new iOS app, and a some platform bots, I do recognize that I’ve made a whole bunch of mistakes along the way.
Diving into design and UI wayyyyy too quickly
One of my first projects at StatMuse was designing an error message for users who have asked queries that we couldn’t answer. I remember feeling nervous, and anxious, but also excited to be able to show my design chops.
Immediately after hearing my assignment, I opened up Sketch and began to design out some detailed mockups of complex error handling. After spending an hour or two on this task, I shared the mockups in our #design slack channel and quickly realized that I did not actually know why we needed new error messages and what we were trying to accomplish.
I had jumped immediately into the design phase without getting a clear sense of goals, strategy, stakeholders, or users. After a few discussions with the team, I realized that all users and stakeholders needed was a rephrased error message in a different color…
Defending without listening
I absolutely love everything about UX and UI. Because of this passion, I feel that my work is a by-product of myself. Also, because of this passion, I used to find myself getting really defensive during feedback sessions where criticisms were given.
I was using up all my energy on defending my work and not trying to empathize with whoever was giving the criticism… a definite faux paus in a field where empathizing with users is key. It wasn’t until I read a blog post by Austin Knight that I came to realize that what I was doing was counterproductive and would not help me become a better UX designer (see here)
Big egos often have little ears. Don’t let your own motivations and fears get in the way of your greatest opportunities to improve and succeed. Be open to criticism, embrace change, and learn from failure. Open your ears.
Not asking enough questions
This kind of goes along with not following a UX process and is something that I’ve seen many others struggle with. During my first few months on the job, and sometimes still, I found myself not wanting to ask the hard questions because I didn’t want to be a nuisance or a contrarian. I wanted to be a UX/UI Designer that could solve all the problems given to me and asking for clarification or giving feedback sometimes felt like I was making excuses for myself.
While planning for StatMuse’s iOS application, it was decided that personalization did not have to be included in the MVP. I didn’t question this decision, but it just didn’t sit well with me. I decided to do a few user tests to see if personalization really didn’t matter. We were all surprised by the results. Instead of just a few people wanting personalized content, every single person tested ONLY wanted content that was personalized for them.
After these results, I realized that feedback is valuable and that requirements and strategy should be thought through and actively questioned in order to create the best product. Now, I always try to ask the following questions at the start of a project:
- What is the problem?
- What is the business case and why is it important?
- What are the goals and KPI’s?
- Who is/are the target audience(s)?
- What is the timeline?
Thanks for reading this post! Let me know your thoughts and if this post was valuable to you 🙂