UX Essential Skills: Making Friends

5 May

I’ve recently talked to a few junior UXsters that have asked about the skills needed to be a good UX designer. So, over the next week, I’m going to start explaining some of the fundamental qualities I think are essential for successful UX designers.

First is making friends.

Making friends pretty much tops my list. At this point in my career I haven’t seen a single UX designer that consistently creates great expereinces who doesn’t befriend everyone on their team. UX practitioners are in a unique role that spans every single phase of the project, so making friends is critical.

During the concepting phase of the project, UX works hand in hand with everyone from C-level stakeholders, to business builders, to project managers. It’s key to get these people on your side early in the project. If they buy into your vision now, they aren’t nearly as likely to disregard it later, and if you collaborate with them effectively, you not only get them on your side but you can make them advocates of your vision as well. Similarly, once the project has reached the design phase, UX works with all of the disciplines from design to development to flesh out the product according to your documentation. A good working relationship is really important to sort through all the design details, compromises and negotiations that inevitably come up at this stage. If you have a good relationship, these teams are more willing to meet you in the middle.

Moving into the development phase it becomes even more crucial to befriend your teammates because the due date for the project is approaching. Developers are looking at a slew of their own issues regarding the technology behind the project so UX has to insure that the build is faithful to the user experience vision. Additionally, clients are starting to see their project come to life. This is often the point where they give their most robust feedback because it’s easier to understand a living product than the deliverables they signed off during the other project phases. A UX designer who has befriended their clients can deal with this feedback much more effectively than those who have been more reserved. Often a little client education at this point will make them understand that those awesome features they just thought of can wait until v2.

I rely on making friends so much so that design deliverables are almost a secondary aspect of my projects. For the most part, design challenges can be solved by applying UX best practices. Innovation however, is almost always the result of a team that works really well together.

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