The life of a UX designer can be trying at times. As technology continues to advance, so do users’ expectations. After all, if they can use their phone to transform their living room into a Jurassic Park adventure using the magic of mixed reality, then why shouldn’t their timesheet be optimized so they can fill it out faster? They’re not wrong.
However, like many things in life, it’s easier said than done for many UX professionals. When you’re faced with limited budgets, shifting priorities, and truncated timelines, if you’re not careful you’ll end up making a mistake that will have users screaming out of sheer frustration. Read on for what common pitfalls to avoid along with tips for taking your work from scary to savvy. We promise it’ll help you hone your craft while ensuring users are met with seamless digital experiences.
Sidestep These 6 Common Pitfalls for a Better UX
1. You’re focused on the task, not the outcome
At a fundamental level, the role of the UX designer is to explore the needs of both the business and the user, envision possibilities, and validate solutions—not to draw a wireframe. Remember: deliverables are intended to facilitate learning and communicate ideas, not to simply check a contractual box.
2. You’re asking questions rather than seeking answers
Set your interviews up for success by structuring interview scripts with the participant in mind. Consider the flow of the interview and work in ice breakers and softball questions to help them relax. A comfortable participant is more likely to provide you with the important information you need later in the interview.
Also make sure your phrasing is not so open-ended that the participant’s answers aren’t useful. Begin your script writing process by outlining the information you need from them to ensure your plan facilitates a conversation that provides the answers you seek.
3. You’re looking for a solution, not eliminating possibilities
Wireframing is meant to be an iterative process. It helps you remove certain design decisions so you can focus on structure, workflow, and layout. Start with hand sketches or white boarding sessions and develop as many iterations as it takes to eliminate ideas, narrowing down options to only the most optimal. This will improve your client presentation, too—you’ll be able to say “we tried that and it didn’t work because…” with confidence as ideas are thrown around the table.
4. You go visual before understanding the challenge
Visual design can get you to the presentation, but it can’t get you through the review. Clients can and should be wowed by the visual execution of the application, but they are ultimately concerned about the viability of the solution, whether it will resonate with users, and how it will impact their organization. Answer these questions before moving to the aesthetic layer.
5. You confuse the site map with migration planning
New page names, pages to be deleted, etc., don’t even scratch the surface of the items to consider when migrating content from one site to the next. The process of migration planning should include a mixture of content strategy, information architecture, and brand strategy, as the goal is to convert the existing content structure into an updated structure that aligns with your strategic vision for the user experience. In addition, the migration plan should include a phased approach for migrating the content that allows for 508 compliance remediation, content editing, and content development.
6. You try to make something different without making sure it’s also better
All organizations strive to identify their key differentiators and communicate their unique value proposition. However, this pursuit for differentiation is a very delicate one when the digital realm is involved. User comprehension is attached to their understanding of all digital products—not just yours. So reinventing the wheel can often cause poor usability. While there is always room to innovate, you want to measure the cost-benefit and test the approach with users to ensure they are able to quickly adopt the new feature or functionality. Internally, you also want to consider the level of effort involved for the engineering team to implement the design, and whether the trade-off is worth the extra effort. Are you creating more efficient and intuitive ways of executing tasks? Or simply introducing unique graphics or “cool” animations? Measure the impact of your decisions.
Knowing what obstacles to avoid will help save you time and heartache in the long run. Consider the above mistakes and advice for overcoming them as you begin your next client engagement—it will keep you focused on the real opportunity to add value for both the customer and their end users. By understanding both audiences’ needs and motivations, you can be more efficient in your research and design, providing more time for testing and iteration as you hone your process of creating an experience everyone can be proud of.
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