Five Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Professional UX Designer

21684268_10213339062325784_503804262_o

Very few people know the difference between a User Interface Designer and a User Experience Designer, and most don’t care to know the difference.

If you are guilty of this yourself, you can look up the distinction in the article here. But suffice to say, very little knowledge of color theory comes into play during my day to day job. As a UX Designer, I am more interested in who the stakeholders of the project are, how the users will logically interact with the system, and what is the overall architecture of the application. Don’t get me wrong, having a background in visual design and typography are incredibly useful as a UX Designer, but my position does not rely on it. Making sure that any developers or business analysts on my team know that information IS a part of my job though. If there are no user interface or visual designers on our team, then odds are those individuals are relying on me to complete a wholistic visual mockup.

In school you’re always told to design to your heart’s content, but for most companies it’s all about how to fit a design within a project’s timeline.

This is CRUCIAL if you are going into the corporate world. Rarely, if ever, do I get to see a project from start to completion. Most of the time I don’t have three weeks to interview or research users before going into a design phase, and even more important – my company isn’t looking for an incredibly complex interface. The more complex the mockups are, the more work the developers have to do. The more work the developers have to do, the more money the company has to pay to have it made. So yes, maybe that parallax effect would look cool, but realistically that’s out of scope for our application. This is all under the assumption that I’m starting from scratch and making my own designs, which doesn’t happen too often either. Some of the time, I’m just cleaning up or adding onto designs that already have a set style guide and functionality parameters.

A lot of companies aren’t really looking for a UX Designer, they’re looking for a frontend developer with a design background.

The most important thing to do when looking for a job in this field is to be honest. A lot of companies I interviewed with wanted me to have an experience in programming so that I understood how difficult it was to implement my designs, but some of them just assumed I could play both roles. This was really difficult for me because although I like programming and needed a job, it’s not what I wanted to do. Be honest with yourself and with your interviewer. A lot of companies like the idea of a UX design work stream but don’t really think about how much time and effort it means to design a product out within that flow. If you want to be a UX Designer, don’t settle for a design-ish role.

Most web developers believe in the idea of getting the code to function on a page first, instead of working concurrently with the design.

This really only comes into play when you’re on a really tight schedule and you’re building a backend database structure while designs are still getting approved. This happens more often than you think, especially when companies know what they want out of the hierarchy of users, the integration with the company, or the KPI (key performance indicators)/metric system. This problem comes into play when you’re working with the developers and they start building out the frontend without approval for the designs. This is a huge mess to muck through because odds are they will be working from outdated designs, or they won’t even reference a design at all and try to inject it onto the page without any formatting. It’s important to have everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) designed out in the application before development starts major work within the application because in the end it’s not just about if the application will work, it’s about whether the application is USABLE. If the application isn’t usable by a consumer then all of the hard work that dev team put into the system (and all the money the client put into the system) will go to waste.

You will never ever ever be working alone.

This is pretty average of any tech job, but you need collaboration skills. You have to have the ability to work with people you don’t necessarily get along with, because if you don’t you’re going to have a rough time. You don’t have to like them, you don’t even have talk to them outside of meetings, but you have to communicate your points to them in an inclusive and societally acceptable manner. We get that you were the design star of your college and that you rose to the top of the ranks with your keen eye and ability to empathize with multiple groups of people. But here is some tough news: if you can’t work well with others and portray your ideas appropriately (with designers, developers, or executives) you’re going to be kicked to the curb.

 

Posted in: UX & UI

Tagged as: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s