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One aspect of being a User Experience designer that I enjoy is the attitude of solving tough problems in a team setting. Working with teams has allowed me to see the attitudes of other disciplines and identify their strengths. These attitudes can help bring the user experience discipline forward to help make our viewpoint less subjective, and more in tune with our collaborators’ attitudes. Below is a list of key roles and their attitudes, and what we should borrow and utilize to make us stronger UX designers.

Project manager

  • Manage your work and schedule – tell everyone what you are doing, highlight any dependencies involved, and the time it takes to do a good job.
  • Explain everything you are working on simply, in an “elevator-pitch” style – there’s no need to go into the details unless needed to.
  • Don’t hide the work – be ready to show the progress you are making. The last thing people what is to be held in the dark.
  • Realize that the UX discipline is one (albeit an important one ) check on the list to get everything done.

Content strategist

  • Content is a critical component of the user experience – treat it with the respect it deserves. It requires much more care than “lorem ipsum” in your wireframes.
  • Learn enough about the content to be able to help organize it and be able to translate it to multiple technologies.
  • Utilize team/company values to include these considerations the content and related interactions.
  • Learn who makes the content now, and who will be involved in the future. Consider how to gracefully add/remove content from the experience as needs change (and they will always change.)

Subject matter experts (SMEs)

  • Realize they know the heart of the business/subject – learn as much as you can to take their attitudes and perspective and translate it for users.
  • Always be prepared to translate what you are talking about in a design to their language, and show that you’ve respected their time and information throughout the design process.
  • As you are interviewing them to gain a context of the design, be ready to understand what they are looking for from your side.
  • Come prepared to ask questions and show artifacts that only they can answer/make decision on.

Quality assurance

  • Look for edge cases in the design, understand why they are edge cases, and make sure they are accounted for in the design.
  • Understand their process for quality assurance to place the information development and quality assurance needs to build and test the design efficiently.
  • Part of their job is to tell the team when something smells fishy – be sure to listen, as they are your “first users” of the design.
  • Watch how they ask questions and how detail-oriented their job is – include this level of specificity in all of the work, including how questions are asked in the interviewing process
  • Quality assurance will want to know what the most frequently used aspects of the design are: make sure the design is strong enough to help novice users and power users alike.
  • They also know how to set up technology to best simulate production – learn how they do it to set up a similar environment for prototyping a design to create a production like environment.

Development

  • Understand their job is tough enough to be able to balance all of the technologies they have to integrate with, and that the front-end is just one point they have to check off their “to-do” list.
  • Keep all of the technical documentation as small as possible to help make it easier for them to accomplish their goals.
  • Talk to them to help understand the technological constraints to help make everyone on the team aware of what’s really going on, and how these will impact users.
  • Development is very good at coming up with solutions quickly – use this same mentality, combined with sketching, to come up with a myriad of good solutions from which to start.
  • When arguing for design, remove as much subjectivity out of the design and appeal to logic. Using an argument, as opposed to “we like it this way”, will help to show the reasoning and decisions that are grounded in your work.

Other team members

  • Pictures help to bring everyone up to speed – respect everyone else’s time by showing pictures or as concise information as possible to help maximize people’s time.
  • Prototypes are stronger than pictures – when possible, create prototypes to help clear any misunderstanding.
  • Come prepared to meetings with your content, as meetings are expensive, and design work helps to keep everyone moving forward towards the goal of completing a product.
  • Keep a positive attitude and body language to help encourage people to speak and ask questions they need to get their job done.
  • Find the value of each other person involved in the process, and translate UX speak into something they can find value in.

These are some of the roles and attitudes I have seen that have helped me to become a better UX designer. What are some of the attitudes you’ve seen that have made you a stronger designer?

Casey Addy
Casey M Addy is a user-experience practitioner focusing on data-driven design thinking and rapid prototyping via pen and paper. He also likes to turn paper concepts into interactive stories to help teams articulate and validate design thinking.
Casey Addy

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