3 things a UX designer does not want to hear

Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in articles, UX Design | No Comments

I’ve been working in design for around 8 years now and that’s by no means as long a service record as most but i like to think i’ll have nice little tid-bits of info here and there. Here are 3 things that break my heart when i hear clients say.

“Our users already know that (icon) means (something specific to the product)”

UX/UI design as a specific discipline has really only become big in the last 3 – 4 years in the UK (as far as i can understand) before now, it was something inherent in ‘good’ design as a rule regardless of whether you worked primarily in print, digital, web etc. But as the digital world takes over as people’s primary means of interaction with services and products the need for people highly competent in user centric design has become a business necessity.

But it’s still hard to stand-out as a different kind of breed. No longer the Photoshop/Fireworks/Illustrator/Notepad++ slave we UX/Ui designers push past ‘making a text change here’ or a ‘radio buttons there’ copy. paste. done. scenario. We use our insight into user behaviour and design practice to ask the questions ‘ok, how much do we want to help the user here’ or ‘what might they get stuck on here’ and ‘where does the user go from here and how can we make that clearer’.

Relying on existing knowledge of a long serving product might be all well and good for those users that have been using the product for years, had extensive product training and are ‘used to’ an ‘industry standard’ but how are the newcomers going to fair? as consumer products develop and change their UX/UI how will this continue to stack up? as the world become ever more globalised how will this translate across language and usage barriers?
Just because somethings worked well for a period of time, even a long period of time doesn’t mean it will always work well. Keep asking questions. Keep developing and testing new theories and never settle just because use/time=standard.

“But we already do that part way better than our competitor(s) so why should we spend time on making it better?”

This is one of the hardest business cases to put forward, spend time and money developing something when it’s already considered ‘better than the competition’. The question i would pose to this is “What is our aim here? to make our competition sweat and get a ‘one-up’ on them? or to empower our users with our product and help them to use our product in the best and easiest way it can be?”.

Regardless of your position in the marketplace i believe as a UX/UI designer there is a duty to users to push for innovation. To make the product the best it can be continuously, relentlessly because having a good product is good but having a great product is great. There’s always new technological advances on the horizon. Speculation and prediction of the industry and marketplace is your ally. Use these to inform the future of your products and ensure your existence in decades to come.

As a side note on this, you never know what the competition is secretly cooking up until you stumble across a live A/B test or something of the same ilk and by then it’s pretty late in the day.

“The Dev’s won’t understand unless you spell it out for them”

This is a huge dis-service to back-end and front-end devs. If there is a gap in knowledge from taking a mock up design to fully coded product then train them or equip them with a comprehensive style guide as a matter of urgency.

Dev’s are on the whole, not lazy, not dumb and not visually challenged. They have just as much valid input on user experience and how the back end speaks to the front end and how best this can work with your user friendly designs. Dev’s are friends, not there to facilitate your ‘Design masterpieces’.

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