Some advice for designers

You can be an amazing designer but utterly ineffective because you fail to elicit the support of your client and peers

The things you care about, your values and your priorities as a user experience designer will differ to those of the analyst, the tester, the project manager and even the client.

Sometimes your conclusions will be wrong but much of the time you’ll just have a different perspective on a problem based on your experience, your methodology, and what you focus on.

Where others are coming from a technical background and are thinking about the technology, capabilities, technical debt and lines of code you are thinking about how people will perceive and use something.

Where others are thinking conditions, constraints, organisational efficiency and resource management you are thinking about contexts of use, activities, and human factors.

Where others are thinking simplicity, ease of implementation, repeatability, and reusability you are thinking about the nuance of how to do it right so people will find it useful and usable.

Don’t let people convince you you’re crazy for being the only voice in the room speaking up for users, participants, consumers and citizens.

Don’t let people convince you that you’re overthinking what seems to them easy problems with obvious solutions because they’re not seeing through your lens. You might see complexity and challenges they don’t.

Don’t back down when people disagree with you just because you’re outnumbered. If you’re the expert on the topic or problem being discussed then it shouldn’t come down to a simple majority vote.

When you are overruled, don’t give up. If you made a good, solid argument and presented it articulately and passionately then you made progress. Your team or your client will have learned something new thanks to you.

Be smart, keep a cool head and continue to chip away, establishing credibility so next time they’ll listen longer and more intently … before shooting you down. It’ll likely happen a lot.

Don’t retreat into your cave and give up. See every chance to debate as a step forward. Seize opportunities to demonstrate what you know and are capable of.

Of course don’t expect to get your own way, ever. See yourself as an influencer, part of an equation. You represent one view and others represent equally important and valid views. Together as a multidisciplinary team you push and pull at problems and decisions and choose the best outcome that covers all bases.

Remember you don’t deserve respect, you have to earn it. Every time, with each new team, manager, and client.

This is what will make you an effective designer. Stubbornness with humility. Tenacity. Passion and enthusiasm. A willingness to understand not just what drives the people you design for, but the people you design with.

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