There are a lot of articles on the internet on how to spot a good UX designer. This article is different. In this article, I want to talk about how to spot a really bad designer.
Here are ten quotes that help you detect a terrible designer.
"I'm UX designer, I know whats better for our users!"
There's not that rare when designers think they know a problem space better - better than stakeholders, better than a team, and even sometimes better than the users. This often results in a situation when designers stick to the solution they have and runs from critique.
It's essential to understand that no matter how much time you're in the industry, all your ideas are hypotheses. And you need to validate hypotheses. When you skip the validation phase, you base your work on unverified assumptions. That's why experienced designers say that a good designer gets married to the users' problems while a bad designer gets married to his own solutions.
"If it worked the last time, it will work this time"
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, famously said: You cannot step into the same river twice. In the context of UX design, it means that what worked in one context won't necessarily work in another. With each new product your work on, you need to select tools and techniques that fit this project the best.
"It seems that users experience high cognitive load. We need to do a heuristic evaluation to be sure that our initial hypothesis is valid"
This is just an example of how designers use jargon during daily discussions. While such phrases are fine with the UX team, they often create a lot of confusion when designer share the idea (or ideas) with the rest of the organization. The phrases don't say much for people who aren't familiar with the UX design techniques. As a result, they might get confused by the unfamiliar terms.
Remember that lots of jargon don't make you look cool. You arrange a meeting or demo with other people not to demonstrate how cool you are, but to gain valuable feedback.
One of the core skills of UX designer is the ability to communicate complicated things using simple language. By making UX sound simple, you start getting everyone on board with it.
"We don't have time to build a prototype. Let's learn when we launch a product ."
Skipping prototyping and putting a lot of effort into building an actual product is another common (and dangerous) mistake among many design teams. When we put a lot of effort into creating something that we believe is great, it can be really stressful to realize that our solution doesn't work as expected when we release it into the wild.
Prototyping allows you to test your hypothesis before spending time with an engineering team building the actual product. It's better to detect the problem earlier on in the design process because the cost of fixing a product will be much less than a cost of fixing the same problem after the release. As David Kelly, founder of IDEO once said: "Fail faster, succeed sooner."
Creating a prototype not necessarily takes a lot of time. Designers can use different design techniques for prototyping. One useful prototyping technique is called rapid prototyping. It's a popular way of quickly creating the future state of a product, be it a website or an app, and validating it with a group of users.
"Once the product is built, I'm ready to move on"
Some designers believe that their work is done the moment product goes live. But in reality, the process of designing a product doesn't end with the market release. In most cases, the amount of work done after release might be more significant than before. A designer will have to validate their design against user analytics data - they should focus on how users interact with a product, learn from them and adjust the design to make the better experience.
This quote also reveals another, more serious problem - the lack of sense of ownership. A designer who said such things don't take enough responsibility for their solutions.
"I'm a creative person, not the technical one"
Designers often think about development and marketing as something that is necessary to create a product, but they not ready to spend extra time learning about those fields. In other words, they enjoy staying in a box.
In reality, breaking out of the box is an excellent way for UX designers to increase their skills. Talk to developers, create a bond with the marketing team, try to see the project from their perspective. It allows you to appreciate better some of the people you work with on your teams. Both the new knowledge you learn and the empathy you build towards team members will help you develop better products.
"We should design a product exactly in a way stakeholders wants to see it"
Taking a position of a HiPPO (highest paid person's opinion) is quite a common problem in the design field. Of course, it's much easier to move forward when you build a product in exact way stakeholders want to see it.
But following such an approach is really dangerous. Just because a person has a high position in corporate ladder doesn't mean that this person is always right. UX designer is a person who takes responsibility and s/he will be the first person to blame if the design fails. That's why good UX designer should be a good negotiator. She has to make everyone's voice heard in the design process, not only HiPPOs.
"Either we design it in this way, or I quit"
Imagine a situation when you've conducted user research and found a lot of usability issues. You force your team to fix all of them. You know that you right and refuse to compromise. You say that if they won't fix the issues, this results in bad UX.
Without any doubts, fighting for design decisions is a great skill for UX designers. But designers should also realize the current context and adapt to it - no team has infinite resources, so it's almost impossible to ask a team to fix all UX issues before the release. That's why teamwork requires a certain level of compromise. For things to move forward, you need to prioritize your recommendations and be sure that the team will work on the critical recommendations (that has a severe impact on UX), while pushing less important recommendations aside (in a product backlog).
"Amazon does it. We should do it."
Using big names when discussing design decisions is a sure way to put more weight on your design decision. But just because something works for other companies/projects doesn't mean that it will work for you. When creating designs, it's OK to follow patterns of the some of the big players, but only if you sure that they lead to the better user experience for your product. The later becomes clear when you test our solution with real users.
"We should follow the steps in design process exactly like we discuss it"
UX process is a make-it-or-break-it aspect of UX design. Without a solid UX process, a designer could be completely moving in the dark. A clear and concise process, on the other hand, makes it possible to craft amazing experiences for users.
Many designers believe that there's one universal UX process that guarantees a successful outcome and can be applied to all projects. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all design process. While it's possible to define individual steps for each project, a precise UX process should always be selected based on project requirements - each project is unique and has its own needs.
Also, the UX process isn't set in stone. Designers should be ready to adapt the design process based on the data they have. For example, you can conduct usability or A/B testing and find out that you need to redesign a specific part of the product, be ready to go back to a whiteboard to draw another solution.