By Juno Yates, bighuman.org
Having a good idea for an app is a nice place to start, but it won’t mean much if you can’t deliver on the promise of a good user experience. If people don’t enjoy using the apps you design, you won’t have much success.
Working with a digital strategy agency can be a great way to gather the insights and data you need to build a better app, but you also need the basic talents for UX design. While these are skills that can take years to hone, there are simple tips that can make any UX designer better at what they do.
Learn to Listen
A good designer should be a good listener. While this might seem obvious, many of us are good at hearing others when they speak, but we might not be doing our part to really listen to what they have to say. When you learn to listen, you take in what the other person has to say. This can make you better at communicating with clients and it can also be a good way to learn from your colleagues.
Carry a Notebook
Designers should always take notes. It can be easy to forget the finer details after a meeting with a client or with coworkers. As another point, your notebook could be the perfect tool for capturing inspiration when it hits. Ideas often come up at the strangest times. When you have a notebook on hand, you can write the idea down so you don’t forget.
Come Up With More Than One Idea
It is easy to run with the first idea you have for a project. However, you will get better at your job if you come up with multiple ideas. With more than one option, you have something to compare the different ideas to. Along with that, you might be able to combine ideas to make something that is better than the first thing you came up with.
Be Willing to Settle
Striving for perfection is a good instinct. With that said, you need to be willing to settle for a good product. Obsessing over perfection can be a waste of time and energy. In some cases, it can even result in a worse product than if you had just been willing to settle. Accept the fact that perfection is not always possible and make sure you can create a good UX that will be ready on time.
As a UX designer, you need to be mindful of how you talk to other people. You and your coworkers might understand the same jargon, but clients might not understand terms like experience architecture or adaptive design. Make an effort to avoid using jargon when talking with people outside your field and never use these terms in product copy.
Take Opportunities to Collaborate
Take every opportunity you can to collaborate with other people. Whether they are fellow UX designers or people working on other parts of the project, there will be learning opportunities. Ask people about the work they do and their views on the project. Collaboration can offer some of the best opportunities to build new skills.
Many UX designers jump right to the prototyping tools when they have an idea of what they want to do. This is understandable because you want to get to work on something that will look like an app. With that said, these tools can be a little limiting. If you can sketch on paper, you will have a lot more freedom to exercise your creativity. You can then take your sketches and use them as inspiration for the apps you build.
Be Open to Criticism
Hearing criticism can be difficult. This is especially true if it is directed toward something you put a lot of time and effort into. While criticism can be uncomfortable, it can offer some of the best opportunities for you to grow as a designer. As long as the feedback is constructive and honest, you should welcome it.
Be Willing to Criticize Others
Many of us also avoid criticizing others because it can be uncomfortable. However, giving criticism can help you learn and it can also be important for the growth of other team members. You just need to make sure it is constructive criticism and only give it in a way that is respectful.
Every good designer should have goals. If you are not setting goals, you are not challenging yourself. Look at your skills as a designer and think about which ones you would like to improve. Consider whether there are any new skills that could make you better at UX design or advance your career. Set goals and develop an action plan for achieving them.
Sharpen Your Storytelling Skills
Every app communicates a story. Figure out the story of the app and then think of ways you can use UX design to move users through the story. You could even sketch the story out in a storyboard or create an outline that shows the beginning, middle and end to help you get a grasp on the points you need to communicate.
Dig Into Usability Testing
There is nothing quite like seeing a person use your app. Suddenly, problems that you didn’t see will be obvious. If you can attend usability testing, you should. If not, you should ask if you can review any reports or surveys from sessions. The feedback from testers can do a lot to help you build better UX designs in the future.
It is understandable if you do not want to leave your desk until you have a project finished or a problem solved. As understandable as it is, you might be doing more harm than good. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to mental burnout. In some cases, the solution to a problem will seem obvious after giving yourself some time away. Take breaks throughout the day and make sure to leave your work at the office when you go home.