New to UX? Avoid These Pitfalls!

User Experience is a very valuable consideration for modern product development, but there are several pitfalls that can hinder the productivity and effectiveness of someone new to this role. We asked our experts to help illuminate some of these bad habits and recommend an alternative.

What are the most common pitfalls of a new UXer and how can you avoid them?

Tom Deitz

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Don’t feel like you are the only one capable of making decisions regarding users. Involve your entire team in understanding who your users are and in making those decisions. Chances are you are working with smart people that will offer insight helping you look past your own biases. Not to mention the added bonus of a shared understanding and agreement upon the final choices made. Not every idea will be implemented but they will be heard and you will come away with a product that is better for it.

Also, don’t assume you have to further specialize when it comes to your role as a UXer. Sure you are going to have those things that you are naturally better at weather that be research, UI design, or any other specific UX task you can think of - but it is of great benefit to understand other facets of UX and strive toward growing in them so you can get a more complete picture of a user’s experience as they move through a product or experience.

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Cory Bielski

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One that I wish I could have avoided sooner is only showing “done” or pixel perfect work. This is where a UX designer takes research data or an idea and goes into a silo and churns on a design until they believe it is "just right" before showing it to the team or stakeholders. The downfall of this is that the UX designer or team may have chosen only one path - and maybe not even the best path - and put a large investment into that design. I have learned to instead focus on “just enough design” in order to convey the idea or workflow to the team and stakeholder and iterate until it is the best solution for the user.

The idea is to show design often and in the smallest pieces that still maintains the context of the overall design. The first pass can even be done with the team and stakeholders in a design session - sketching ideas on the whiteboard or with 6-up 1-up sketches. The upside of this is that you can easily "throw away” designs that don’t work with minimal waste and rapidly work through many testable ideas. The UX designer can then gradually design with the right amount of fidelity needed to test with the users and stakeholders. Sometimes a napkin sketch will do and sometimes high fidelity closely resembling the final product is needed. At the start of your UX design task ask yourself and the stakeholder what amount of fidelity is needed and then iterate until you reach that standard. I have even started at the lowest fidelity just to get the response from the stakeholder and improved upon the design as necessary. The end result will hopefully be the right solution for the user and a beautiful product that captures that design.

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Rachel Krause

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When I started my UX career, I was very protective of my designs until they were “finished”. Now I realize that software is always changing and it’s a good thing when your design evolves because the experience is also evolving and getting better for users. Embracing change has helped me avoid becoming too attached to an idea that may not go anywhere. It also helps get the software out to the market faster, which is a great way to see real people using something I helped build.

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Ken Otte

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"Unteamwork" is an important pitfall to avoid. You could also call it arrogance or hindrance. It's the idea that you - the UXer - will be the one to create all of the usability solutions, working in a silo or dark closet, not sharing any ideas, not working with your team to come up with flows, designs, or assumptions. Sharing a thought within a group or team will lead to more thoughts, more ideas, and shared solutions. Sketch together, wireframe together, create together. Together is better. This is how one becomes a great UXer; leading the team to solutions instead of creating an idea in a vacuum by yourself then trying to convince the team that it’s the only solution.

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Steve Schmidt

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Never forget that you are designing for actual users - not other designers; not CEO's; not your marketing department. Successful software isn't necessarily going to win a design award. The best software lacks most of the glitter and fad design trends, but works hard to get out of the user's way. Focus, instead, on providing information design, screen layouts and micro interactions that support the user's tasks and goals. Color and branding should be subtle and meaningful to relay importance and guidance for the user along their workflow.

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Have you encountered any pitfalls in your professional growth and development? Comment below to share with us what you have learned.

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