UX IRL 8 lessons learnt - Part 2

Our senior UX strategist Lucy Valentinova presented at a UX Crunch event covering the fundamentals of UX. Here are her last 4 lessons she’s learnt from working in the world of UX designers.
Carrying on from last week’s first UX IRL (in real life) post, today I’ll be covering the four last points on the fundamentals of UX.
Just to recap here are my four lessons from last week:
  1. The brief is never good enough
  2. Be friends with stakeholders
  3. Distinguish valid feedback from personal opinions
  4. Data as your biggest ally
Lesson 5- Organise your ideas simply
We’re all guilty of having a desk full of post-it notes because let’s face it: are you even a true UX-er if you don’t? My first UX research project saw me having thousands of different coloured post-it notes to indicate issues, personas and the gravity of the pain points I’ve highlighted. I quickly realised that being in control of your UX documentation was crucial. You need to make sure all your ideas are documented in a logical and comprehensive way so that both you and your team can refer to the findings at any time.
Whether I’m completing a competitor analysis, enlisting usability issues or building a roadmap, I like to use an online tool called Airtable , which enables you to turn your documentation into living databases. By having your documentation online and enabling version control, you avoid the handover day misunderstandings and ensure continuous collaboration with your team.
Lesson 6- Design isn’t just about function, think commercially
Solving user and business problems requires a lot of thinking and efforts. Unfortunately, the two things that always throw us off are time and money. As the person who is delivering the solution, you need to make sure that you’re aware of these three key things;
  • What are the deliverables? In order to be as efficient as possible make sure you collaborate with your project manager to understand what is expected of you: what activities do you need to complete as part of the project and what are the anticipated outputs.
  • How much time have we got? This may seem like a very obvious tip but this is not just about making sure you’re on time. Keeping in mind the project timelines enables you to be better at forecasting any potential issues or blockers that can affect the delivery of your work. Keeping your project managers in the loop of these projections, will ensure that there aren’t any project derailments and that your projects run as smoothly as possible.
  • How much money does the project cost? Knowing how much money a project costs put things into perspective and sheds light on the financial impact of your work. The commercial awareness also helps you further build on the forecasting skills outlined above and enables you to make accurate estimations when leading teams or freelancing.
Lesson 7 – It will never be perfect
We all question our work and decisions, but it’s in the nature of UX-ers. Going live with a solution can sometimes feel daunting and really scary. Sometimes you have no choice but to press on. Just go live, see how it works. You can learn from the performance of your solution and make changes based on the data you’ve collected. If you’re an in-house designer, this will be fairly easy. You should always communicate with team members who track the performance of your solution.
We’ve had clients come back to us months after go-live to understand how well their site’s been performing. It can be quite strange having to criticise your own work, but it’s important to look at the data, question the stats and start producing hypotheses. For example, if the data is showing you that users are arriving on a page and leaving pretty much instantaneously- this is an observation you should be documenting.
In order to find potential reasons for the discrepancy, you can start looking at different elements of your page and ask the following questions which will form the basis of your hypotheses;
  • Is the main image banner too deep and could people be missing the information below the fold?
  • Could the copy on the page not be clear or informative enough?
  • Is the page surfacing links to other relevant pages to enable users to continue their journey throughout the site?
Once you’ve documented all your observations and hypotheses, you can collaborate with your design and development teams to prioritise the findings and start planning any small design changes or potential A/B tests.
Lesson 8 – Be T-shaped
Being T-shaped is all about having a variety of skills and branching out into new areas. Being great at prototyping, sketching and developing user flows are all very important qualities, but consider other skills that could help you improve your solutions;
  • Having basic understanding of Google Analytics will give you freedom. You can drill into the data yourself and don’t have to always rely on other specialists to provide with actionable insights. Behavioural flows, device usage and content popularity will make your life as a UX-er a lot easier!
  • Since SEO and UX go hand in hand, having a minimal understanding of SEO can really impact your UX solution. For example, referring to the most current SEO best practices when designing the site’s architecture will ensure that not only your URL structure is logical, but also your navigation is as simple as possible for your visitors to use.
So, there you have it, all 8 lessons. I hope you have enjoyed reading my top tips for potential future UX-er’s! Reach out to me if you have any other questions or need advice for your UX career.