Interview with ME
How do you describe what you do?
I’m a User Experience & User Interface Designer (UX/UI for short). There are usually pretty inconsistent descriptions of what that means for different people, and a lot of the time those descriptions seem to focus solely on digital touch-points. For me, User Experience is much, much more. UX is how someone gets from Point A to Point B. From home to work. From not knowing to finding the answer. UX starts with identifying who the user is and what their needs are. Since I work with clients, I also have to balance business requirements with user needs to create a solution that works for everyone, but usually a happy user = a happy client! Once I have a clear understanding of the problem, I can work towards creating an improved experience, usually via sketches, wireframes, and interactive prototypes. The UI side of my job focuses around making sure that the UX I created is easily understandable by using design, color, and clear visual hierarchy.
What is a skill set that you use every day, but never thought you would have to?
Without a doubt verbal communication! When I was first starting out, I thought my solutions could speak for themselves; if I made the most beautiful wireframes, that clients would just get it. I quickly learned that this is not the case. While I do focus on honing my craft and try to create beautiful wireframes, often times digital experiences are abstract, many-layered, and complex. I’ve worked very hard on my presentation skills to be as clear as possible when describing how a site will behave to my clients.
How do you approach solving problems?
By drawing. A LOT. Seriously. There’s that saying “Fail and fail fast,” and nothing could be more accurate. I have never found the right answer on the first try and I hope I never do. I like to challenge myself to get as many ideas out as I can. Even though we usually use one or two of those ideas, and some of the other ideas are just BAD, that’s ok! Those solutions, while they don’t solve one specific problem, may be perfect in the future or for some other client or problem. So pretty often I just start by roughly sketching all those ideas on whiteboards, post-it notes, or paper, and my workspace ends up looking like a scene from A Beautiful Mind.
What user experience trends or tools are you currently most excited about?
I’m excited about the rise of storytelling and moments of surprise and delight. For example, when you move cards around in Asana, and you see a little monster graphic pop up. Those small moments that without them the experience would be fine, but with them it makes it great and memorable. Those are the details that stick with users and often are the hardest things to get buy-in on. I want to high-five the designer who fought for that little monster.
What is your advice to designers that are new to create variations for A/B tests?
I would go back to my previous advice of making LOTS of ideas. Even if the variations between ideas are subtle, they’re still valid changes and you still learn from the data. Don’t get too personally attached to your solutions. Leave yourself open to the chance that your idea might fail. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job, it just means you learned a little bit more about your users. And finally, if you find it challenging to come up with a lot of ideas, don’t be afraid to ask for help from others. You’re not a wizard and more brains are always better.