In my monthly column, Ask UXmatters, experts answer our readers’ questions about user experience matters. To read their answers to your question in an upcoming edition of Ask UXmatters, just send your question to: [email protected]s.com.
The following experts have contributed answers to this edition of Ask UXmatters:
- Mark Baldino—Co-Founder at Fuzzy Math
- Pabini Gabriel-Petit—Principal Consultant at Strategic UX; Publisher and Editor in Chief, UXmatters; Founding Director of Interaction Design Association (IxDA); UXmatters columnist
- Steven Hoober—Mobile Interaction Designer and Owner at 4ourth Mobile; author of Designing Mobile Interfaces; UXmatters columnist
- Ben Ihnchak—Co-Founder at Fuzzy Math
- Jordan Julien—Founder of Hostile Sheep Research & Design
- Daniel Szuc—Principal and Cofounder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd.
- Jo Wong—Principal and Cofounder of Apogee Usability Asia Ltd.
Q: What are the most and least valuable contributions of UX designers to product-development projects?—from a UXmatters reader
“I don’t think it’s possible to generalize about the contributions of UX designers,” replies Pabini. “Their backgrounds tend to be so diverse, and they may possess a broad range of valuable skills, including soft skills. Even for UX designers who have prepared for their career by earning a Master’s degree in a subject relating to User Experience, as has become more and more common in recent years, once in the workforce, their careers may follow such divergent trajectories that they’ll develop different strengths.
“UX designers should never limit their potential contributions to a company’s description of their role. You should contribute any ideas you might have that would add value to a project and your company. For example, a UX designer might come up with a new product concept, help define a product’s requirements or software architecture to improve its user experience, or write some code, in addition to doing everything that is core to their role. Over the years, I’ve done all of these things and making such contributions has made my work much more interesting than it otherwise would have been.
“You should involve your teammates on multidisciplinary product teams in UX research and the UX design process as well. One of the biggest rewards of engaging your teammates in your work and contributing your efforts to your peers’ disciplines is the opportunity to work in close collaboration with one another. For example, you might do some pair programming or pair design. Of course, doing so requires mutual respect and knowledge sharing. Product teams work together much more effectively when they have a good understanding of each other’s disciplines.
“UX designers can have the greatest impact on a product-development effort by objectively analyzing the results from user research, eliciting insights that ensure the team builds the right product for the market, and devising a design strategy for a product that truly meets users’ needs. They can exponentially increase the value of their contributions by inculcating an experience-first culture into a multidisciplinary product team or even across an entire business. The best, most experienced UX designers possess the skills that are necessary for an organization to innovate, so are a natural fit for innovation teams. These are the key ways in which UX designers can create extraordinary value for their company.
“In your role as a UX designer, you can add great value to your team and your company by facilitating ideation sessions or educating your peers in design thinking and UX research and design methods. Business and technical constraints should inform your design solutions, which means you need to know about them before creating your designs. Working collaboratively with your product team from the very beginning of a project is the best way to achieve the necessary learnings. Great design ideas may come from anyone on a product team, so be sure to incorporate all of your team’s best ideas in your designs.”