My Thoughts on the UX Design Process

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Thinking about UX Design

My Thoughts: Which design process is most effective and suitable for specific projects and audiences?

Over the last decade or so, I have learned that there is not "one-size-fits-all" design approach that works for every project, client or target audience. Of course, I attend UX Meetings, read books about design and design thinking, tweet about anything related to UX and talk to peers. If there's one thing that I have learned from my membership in the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF), closely following the Nielsen Norman Groupand many is the following:

  • (1) There is a somewhat "traditional approach" that contains many steps, in a specific order, to do UX in an academic way. It includes very specific artifacts and a more-or-less rigorous procedure.
  • (2) Design Thinking is not only the name of a book but also the idea behind coming up with solutions that are appropriate for specific challenges that face UX designers as much as the end users of a web application, a smartphone app, a web site, a service or a product.
  • (4) Lean UX has become popular over that last few years, because it calls for taking action when it;s needed, with the people that are subject matter experts. It's a quick process and instead of attempting to solve every issue, it's a starting point for development and discussions.
  • (5) Almost weekly, a new insight, a new way of thinking about the UX Design Process gains popularity. Are User Personas truly relevant for certain proudtcs and services? Is a Workflow Document required to address a sales process that varies from customer to customer?

Some things that I strongly believe in:

The UX Designer or Design Team should always be involved in any meetings that involve a new product, service, component, feature or solution. Understanding where Business, Sales & Marketing are coming from is as crucial as understanding Development's concerns.

Although I don't think that every UX Designer needs to know how to code, for me it is of the utmost importance to keep up with latest developments trends, understanding what's possible from a technical point of view and how I can make life easier for the developers, without giving up features that would make the user experience more delightful.

Every UI element has its purpose, but that doesn't mean that UI elements only have one purpose. For example, a Toast can be used to reassure the end user that everything went fine with the last action s/he performed. It can also point out additional information that might influence a buying decision.

Toast UI for different purposes

Toast UI: One UI element can serve many purposes (within reason).

UX keeps evolving.

What started with usability testing and user-centric design around the turn of the millenium evolved into UX. Today, we have UX Researchers, UX Prototypers, Interaction Designers, Motion Designers, UX Engineers and UX Architects.

Years ago, WIRED was the magazine for almost all netizens. Today, we have UX Magazine, Boxes and Arrows, and UX Booth, just to name some of the top UX publications.

So what is the point of all those publications, YouTube channels, Twitter Lists, Facebook Pages and Whitepapers about UX? In my opinion, the access to useful information, new ideas, different ways of thinking about common challenges improves every serious UX Designer's modus operandi. We implement new brainstorming methodologies. We improve our presentation to all stakeholders. We become more specific and convincing communicators. That greatly benefits our clients and the companies who hire us. It also enabled some sort of grassroots UX movement that enabled people with a variety of backgrounds to become conscientious UX practitioners.

Finally: Every new project, added service, re-design, feature addition, deserves a fresh look at the challenge. Communication with all stakeholders and team members is crucial. A good UX Designer has an open door policy: Everyone is welcome to critique, ask questions, present ideas and get involved in the design process. A skilled UX Designer knows when to push back and say No; however, every idea will be taken seriously, and co-workers & stakeholders will be treated politely and fairly—and diplomacy is typically the best way to have meaningful discussions.