Nearly every successful inventor or designer has worked hard to make their product easy and enjoyable to use.
That process didn’t have a formal name until about 25 years ago, though. That’s when an Apple engineer coined the phrase “user experience.”
Today, UX design is integral to the creation of all software and hardware; great UX designers are very much in demand – and very well compensated. The average annual pay for a user experience designer at Google, for example, is more than $160,000 per year.
Learning the fundamentals of UX design is much like learning any other skill set. Becoming a successful UX designer, however, requires more than skills. It requires strong personal discipline and a willingness to give up what may be some longstanding work habits.
Here are the four secrets of success that every budding UX designer should know.
1) UX Is Not a Solo Job
Needless to say, every user is different.
So there’s no way that even an exceptional UX designer can craft a product that will satisfy thousands or millions of users, all by himself.
That makes collaboration the first secret to success. Creating a great UX requires input and insights from as many perspectives as possible. Bringing other design colleagues, engineers and users into the process can save a “lone wolf” designer from making wrong assumptions and big mistakes.
Those who are accustomed to working on their own will have to adapt and change, or suffer the consequences.
2) Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Most techies are hungry for information and entranced by toys.
There’s nothing wrong with intellectual curiosity or a love of the latest tech equipment. But the second secret to UX success is to “put on blinders.” A designer can’t afford to be bogged down exploring interesting technological developments which won’t help with the job at hand.
Investigating new tools which can contribute to the UX development process is worthwhile. But a designer who follows every tangent he finds will be overwhelmed with information, and sidetracked into long project delays.
3) Trust the Process
Research, user personas and scenario maps, wireframes and prototypes, visual design. There are a lot of stages in the UX process.
It’s tempting for designers to jump right into the “fun” stuff. After all, playing in Sketch is much more enjoyable than meticulously creating a user flow.
However, all of the preliminary stages are there for a reason. Rushing into an actual design without a full picture of users and what they need is likely to prove the old adage “garbage in, garbage out.”
Designers want to design. But UX designers need to trust the process and proceed deliberately without skipping crucial stages.
4) Don’t Expect Perfection
To quote almost every parent, teacher and shrink who ever lived: “no one’s perfect.” That includes UX designers.
What’s important for them to realize, though, is that their designs aren’t supposed to be perfect, either. That’s why they’re put through in-depth user testing and go through multiple iterations.
It’s common for a designer to crave perfection; it’s part of our DNA. But a successful UX designer will override their internal drive for perfection and work to produce a good product. The more it’s tested and improved, the better it will get.
The type of person attracted to UX design may be a loner, an inveterate experimenter, impulsive or a perfectionist. The one who’s able to overcome those innate tendencies, however, is the one who’s most likely to succeed.