What i do…
I am currently a user experience designer at the Palo Alto Research Center. Some skills in my toolkit is to gather and use user insights to design experiences to be incorporated into a user’s life. I believe design is beyond making things look pretty, but giving things meaning. I have worked in various stages of a product from exploratory user research to define a product to designing and testing workflows and interfaces with users. I collaborate with engineers, project managers, and stakeholders to align business goals, project direction, and project progression to deliver appropriate design solutions.
My design beliefs based on my experiences so far…
1_Design as a way to manage risks for the organization. By incorporating design into the development process, teams can make better and faster decisions on what direction or features to invest resources into, before spending all the time, money, and effort in developing something no one needs and wants.
2_First step is to understand the goal and problem you are trying to solve. Recognize that we make many assumptions when we design either to down-scope or to test these assumptions. Understanding and defining the right problem to solve at each stage of the development process help us observe and identify relevant motivations and behaviors in the parameters of our assumptions. These findings will be what help us iterate our designs but also our thinking.
3_Advocate user needs when making trade-offs and prioritization. There are lots of decision making as a design lead to balance business needs, business goals, user needs, and development resources with various stakeholders involved. Seek advice from the team, senior designers and managers, and user data to inform trade-offs. The goal is to make the stakeholder happy while advocate for user needs. Help the stakeholders see and think beyond an app or a device but the ecosystem and edge cases for users.
4_Educating about design is part of the job. Stakeholders and project managers and engineering likely are not familiar with your process. Constant reinforcement in educating the design process and reasonings help in demonstrating value in incorporating design feedback into the development process. Set up regular meetings to update, get feedback, and reiterated why we do what we do.
5_Fidelity of deliverables should reflect the fidelity of the concept. It doesn’t make sense to jump to making beautiful mockup when you just came up with an idea as it may be a waste of time if the idea doesn’t work. Instead, focus on what you want to understand and apply the right methods to get that answer. If you want to know if the user flow is intuitive, wireframes that demonstrate information architecture will do the job. Additional visual details will just become distractions to users when you are not looking for feedback like “I don’t like this blue.”
6_Design is never finished and never perfect. Get the idea out there to get feedback as soon as possible. Time constraints are a blessing and a curse, so set deadlines to prevent going down the rabbit hole in finessing the pixel.
7_No one ever know what they want but what they do not want. If you are stuck at a place without directions, propose and push for directions we think are best based on our expertise to get feedback to move forward. Always stay comfortable and flexible with ambiguity. New learning, stakeholder changed their mind, or resource changes form the constraints that push us to make better design solutions.
8_Deliverables are important but delivering is most important. Always set time to prepare and practice before the big presentation to the stakeholders. Storytelling and getting comfortable in explaining the ideas and reasoning to an audience is almost more important than making a pixel-perfect slide deck. Deliverables should serve as a tool to help you deliver your message more effectively and not just showing you did your homework.
9_Deliverables should be able to stand alone without narratives. Documentation for design should be able to live outside of the design team when shared with engineering, stakeholders and more. The more it can be reused the more impact and reach it has.
10_Making friendly and trusty relationships in the project are as crucial as meeting deadlines. You may not remember all the deliverables you made in a few years, but collaboration goes beyond the project. Always listen to what the team needs, and have clear roles and responsibilities to be held against. People are the most powerful tools you can have in your toolkit to run the project smoothly. By learning their ways of working, collaborating, and decision making, people become a controlled variable to help tackle the uncontrollable factors.
…and still so much more to learn!