I was a waitress for six years. You know the saying the customer is always right… well yes and no, right? You could technically do everything right and still not have a happy customer, but what do you learn from it? Does it keep happening despite your best efforts? What’s in your control? What’s feasible? What information are you missing? The variables are endless, but like a restaurant experience, it’s no different from a user experience.
You gain a lot of life lessons in customer service, which contributed to an early passion for UX and Product Design. Technically I’m still in customer service, just in a new form. Though I still wake up in the middle of the night about all the ketchup and silverware I forgot to bring to the table.
The UX Vendiagam
I can’t take credit for this graph, but a dear friend of mine made it. It’s stuck with me ever since. It’s the culmination of key organizational components that require a successful product with UX at the center. It’s underappreciated how hard it is to get to that balance when it can ebb and flow when you least expect it.
As a product designer, it’s our responsibility to keep the balance through…
- Strengthening and maintaining internal relationships
- Satisfying and negotiating business goals
- Respecting limitations and push for innovation
- Fight for the user and be humble
- Analyzing patterns and iterating
Evaluate Business Needs & Goals
I initiate conversations about the business needs, user needs, and goals to understand the root of the project.
Research, Research & Research
I start any project by gathering internal research, best practice research, and investigate what additional research methodologies are needed.
By analyzing internal processes and user journeys, I create blueprint mapping exercises on how the project fits into the larger ecosystem.
After discovering the narrative, stretching the imagination, and testing technical limitations, I present visuals of what I think the project should look like as a dream-like state. Knowing not all of it will make the cut.
Evaluating KPIs from a variety of methodologies, we discuss the project performance and how it needs to evolve. The process cycle restarts.
An effective team is more than skilled professionals and a powerful product. Balancing experience, intuition, research, and time can either hinder or uplift a quality product. A successful product is only as good as the team dynamics. Design is often looked at as a form of leadership, owning up to that role with empathy, purpose, and collaboration with the entire team is what creates quality teams that are transparent and built on trust. Designs shouldn’t be thrown over the wall. There shouldn’t be any walls.
Seamless experiences are the leading expectation in product design within an organization that provides numerous products and services. Strategizing with cross-functional teams to account for complex journeys and funnels for numerous personas is so easy task, but a necessity to create impactful products users fall in love with.
About 20% of users have some form of a disability. With most U.S. companies catering to the majority and traditional designers not having the training for visual accessibility, these users are underrepresented. ADA lawsuits are at an all-time high and will continue to rise. All designers are capable of making beautiful work, but in my humble opinion, accessible designs are what make a great design better, because it’s more difficult to accomplish yet everyone can experience its beauty.
This is a two-prong proclamation for me:
Relying on the visual design for quality. In a product, it’s easy to tell if it has good UI, but on the surface, it’s harder to tell if it’s good UX. Bad UX is still bad design.
Studying only best practices for usability. I firmly believe most designers research one-half of their UX strategy. Looking only at best practices is like choosing to not know the cons of a pro/con list.
Words give an impact. Words give clarity. Words are the new competitive advantage in UX. Copy tends to go by the wayside because designers aren’t always well-versed in writing and tech writers are often not involved or don’t play a role in the final product. In the absence of a writer, it’s a designer’s responsibility to set the stage with good UX copy. The words designers place in a design are just as meaningful as the correct placement of a button. A cornerstone of my UX strategy includes UX copywriting skills.