November 23, 2023
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Not Another UX Method

Learning another UX method or tool won’t make you more impactful as a UX designer and what to do instead.

Your career success and fulfillment as a UX designer don’t depend on learning yet another method or the next tool. Yes, knowing how to properly do your job as a UX professional is fundamental, but all the methods, systems, and tools will only get you halfway if you don‘t know how to apply them in real-life situations.

Life doesn’t always play by the book

In my roles as a manager and in my coaching practice, I have seen senior UX designers struggle and become frustrated because they felt their teams weren’t giving them the necessary space, time, and resources to conduct a full-fledged UX design process properly. To a certain degree, I agree many companies have relatively low UX maturity levels and aren’t fully prepared or set up to utilize UX design. Building such a practice takes time, resources, and great UX managers who can convince the executives to invest in UX headcount and resources and are resilient enough to play the long game. If there is no such person in laying the foundation, getting UX design settled in product organizations can become quite an uphill battle in addition to delivering great solutions.

Don’t wait for the right tool

Another pain point I often encounter is wanting just one more tool to do the job. Whether you are in UX research or focused more on UI delivery, there is always a new tool, software, or AI system that could make your work easier. If only you would get that budget signed off, you could finally do some real UX work, right? 

Or is something else holding you back? The need for another tool or method before getting started stems more from fear than actual requirements. Having to prove you can provide great insights and solutions can become quite frightening, especially if you are only getting started and your team has a lot riding on getting the product right as quickly as possible. But let’s face it: a lot of UX work can be done with pencil and paper, and you don’t need a UX lab to talk to your users and customers. Just get started instead of waiting for the next bigger and better tool. Even with all the tools in the world, you may not get the perfect outcome the first time; that’s why you want to keep learning and iterating. So, instead of holding out for the next budget push, start practicing and refining your skills with what you already have.

Master of None

Always looking for the next best UX tool or UX process to add to your portfolio might spread yourself too thin. Sometimes, focusing on excelling at what you already know can be better before trying something new. 

This is not an argument against UX generalists but more a plea to give yourself time to dive deep and understand what you’re working with. It may be better to be great at a few things than trying to cover the entire spectrum. Even the best methods only lead to great results when applied properly, and while practice might not make perfect, using the same tools more often will improve your level of execution. 

Spoiled for Choice 

As professional UX designers, we all know what happens when you give someone too many options. Making a decision gets more challenging. As we become spoiled for choice, demotivation and stress set in. I have seen this happen with Senior UX Designers and UX researchers in professional situations as well. Just because you know that too many options can be overwhelming, you don’t become immune to the effect. And so many highly skilled professionals with a large arsenal of equally valuable methods get stuck choosing the “right” method or UX process. I have found that whatever method brings you the first results, the fastest is the one you should select. Make a conscious but quick decision and go with it until you can’t learn any further. Will you get all your answers on the first try? Never, but you’ll be set on your way to learning quickly and efficiently. 

Collaboration is Key

So if adding another UX method and betting on that next version of Figma and co isn’t the answer? How do I become a more impactful UX designer, you ask? My answer would always be to become a better collaborator. Even if many of us regard ourselves as the voice of the customer in product organizations, disregarding the fact that service and help desk teams are much more engaged with customers, we will never be able to serve those customers and users on our own. UX design success and impact always rely heavily on other disciplines. The hard truth is that if it can’t be built, it can’t be used, and if it doesn’t help make money, businesses will be reluctant to invest. So, to create UX practices that are equally impactful and sustainable, we must align our goals and practices with the needs and challenges of our peers in other disciplines. The better we learn to communicate and collaborate with partners in Engineering and Business, the more likely we will become successful in achieving our own goals. Building great products and services is a team sport, and as in any team sport, the players depend on each other.

Trained UX designers may already have several skills that can help improve your collaboration and communication skills. Learn to put them to use in your organization as well. Start by creating empathy for the members of your team. Why not use an empathy map to understand your product manager, stakeholder, or engineer? Use your presentation and review meetings to explain your design decisions and how they relate to the team’s common goal. Set up regular meetings to discuss how you can improve collaboration amongst each other and, most importantly, be flexible to adapt how you work to the UX maturity of your team and company. 

It can be hard to identify what might help you become a better collaborator and a more impactful UX designer when you are deep in the trenches of your product squad and are struggling to get the hard work done. This is where coaching and mentoring can effectively shed some light, rekindle your passion for UX, and set you on your path to professional growth. Check out how collaboration-focused coaching can help you become more impactful in your role.

Written by

Marvin O. Hassan

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