Stop Saying These Ten Things If You Want to Be a Successful UX Designer

Everyone defines success differently, even in user experience (UX) design. People have a hard time defining success for a field that is so young, where quantifying what goes on daily can prove challenging. So, what makes a UX designer a success? Several things, but the first step is quite simple: You must give up. Give up your expectations, not your ambitions at success.

Too often, people define success in a field or project by comparing it to something else. While this can help get you started, it sometimes proves ineffective for something that is brand new. Preconceived notions and ideas on what a job looks like can lead to ineffective management, career stagnation, and an overall drop in employee effectiveness and satisfaction.

So, what do you give up? Discover list of things you need to quit right now to succeed later.

1. The Need for Inspiration

Everyone does it. You go to Google and look for a list to give you ideas or inspiration, but this can tank originality. Stop spending your time reading about other people’s ideas for your success. If you must look at a list, sit down and make one on your own – start with things you succeeded at already. Make sure you include why they succeeded and what you did to make them successes. Keep the list to a reasonable length, and put it somewhere you can see it. Use it the next time you feel the need for inspiration.

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2. The Notion That You Must Do It Alone

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: You are not the only person who is ever going to interact with your user interface. You’re also not the first one to design one. So, why act like either of these is true and try to do it alone? When you operate in a vacuum, you rob yourself of valuable resources and feedback that the success of your work will build on. No one person has all the ideas. The perfect design does not exist. Stop isolating yourself, make use of other minds and feedback sessions to help fine-tune your work to the point that you are not the focus. Remember: it’s all about the end user. Entrepreneurs and UX designers should consider themselves partners in web design company, and you should encourage the input of owners and managers.

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3. You Must Be Loyal to a Company

We all know when we encounter a business or organization that focuses on itself more than the user. Government offices often reek of this kind of process, where planning for anything, including UX designs, must meet rigorous internal requirements and specifications that don’t consider the end user until after the UX launches. It’s not just the DMV, either. How many game projects over the years since digital updates to software became possible were rushed out the door by suits more interested in the bottom line than on delivering a completely successful user experience out of the gate? If you find yourself in such a situation, get out. You are not required to stay there.

4. You Should Be in on Everything New

The technological world advances daily, constantly iterating and upgrading. A brand new UX rolled out to your user base last quarter may now feel old and sluggish when the next new design comes along. In that environment, initial adopters of what’s new get a lot of attention and the pressure to keep up with them becomes immense. Corporate leadership is all about buzzwords and what the latest trend or design is. To keep your sanity, be particular about what you stay current on and remember: you’re not in school anymore – you don’t have to memorize everything. You live in a world where information is readily available. You don’t have to know every bit of technology or new design – just how to find out what you need to know in the moment.

5. You Need to Commit Completely for Success

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Just because your work encourages people to give extra time beyond what they are willing to pay you for does not mean you have to do so. Sometimes, that extra time is warranted; the key is knowing when that is and planning accordingly. Take care of yourself, because the more you wear yourself out or treat your body badly, the less productive you will become. This is a constant struggle for an organization like the military, which expects to wear people out and just replace them, but constantly faces dearth of experience. Another designer will be able to step in to your shoes if you break down; make sure you don’t by taking care of yourself. You and your company will be grateful you did.

6. You Need to Be Drawing Designs Now

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There is no place for rushing work in the UX process. Management will always set deadlines that seem impossible, constantly pushing you for whatever it is you are working on today by yesterday. Resist the urge to rush steps. Don’t just jump to the drawing stage if you haven’t finished working through your research. If you don’t know what your customer wants or what the end user needs, drawing up an interface is wasted effort that you will need re-accomplished. Have a clear, explainable process you can give management and work steadily through it. Good management will see the progress; if they don’t, recall the point on loyalty.

7. You Link Your Success to an Organization

When you start out, you may dream of working at a place like Google or Facebook. The draw to those companies is strong and understandable, but the road there can feel insurmountable. Every mountain looks like that. These tech giants were not always the peaks in the tech world that they are today. They set a plan in place, followed it through to completion, adapted to challenges along the way, and arrived at their goal.

To do the same, do the same. Write your plan down and work hard to make it happen, but don’t count these kinds of organizations as the only measures of success. Be the top designer where you want to be, and don’t make the mistake of thinking all your victory is connected to a specific company. Name recognition is nice, but you may be the one who gets another company’s name on the map.

8. Your Work Must Be Perfect

The end goal of any project should not be “make the perfect UX design.” For UX design, the adage that “perfection is the enemy of good” is particularly important to remember. Perfection will never happen and only sets you up for failure. Instead, you need to be effective, then step into testing and iterating, a phase that never ends. You may move on, but someone will continue these latter phases until the company orders a new design.

Expect mistakes to happen. Plan them into your process. The only way your design will improve is when you make mistakes. It’s the foundation of learning. Expect to deliver the most functional version of your design possible before taking the steps to perfect it. For an example of this, you need only look at Apple or Microsoft.

9. You Can Get by With Sub-Par Peripheral Skillsets

It’s common knowledge that business owners should have some sense of what goes into UX design, but the opposite is also true – you should hone soft skills that complement your work. While your skillset may focus largely on UX design, don’t think that you’re okay with managing on less than ideal skills in other areas. You may not have to get all your possible skills up to the top level (this isn’t The Sims, after all), but making the effort to improve in other areas pays dividends.

When you do get better in something, you get better in all things. You gain confidence and experience that helps you get better in something else. Don’t settle for sufficient writing skills or passable presentation skills. Considering how often you may have to pitch a design to someone in written or verbal form, take the time to get better so your amazing design doesn’t fall to the wayside because of a bad presentation or poorly constructed white paper.

10. You Can Stay Inside What You Know

Staying where you are comfortable only gets you so far. You avoid challenges when you stay safe, hampering your ability to grow. There’s a reason everyone says, “Think outside the box.” If you want to get better, go outside the proverbial “comfort zone.”

Some roadblocks are self-imposed, but you may not even know they are there and holding you back. Most of this list isn’t new intel, but it’s a reminder of how to success on your own terms. The answer to success doesn’t lie only down this road. But, if you don’t start giving up what is holding you back, you’re not going to make it very far down that road anyway.

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