How can I proactively solve UX design problems? UX Question #34

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Tony from Hartford, Connecticut, asks: How can I proactively solve UX design problems?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Tony. This is UX Question number 34 and I am Ben Judy.

How can I proactively solve UX design problems? Well, I think you’re talking about anticipating what might go wrong as you do UX design work, and taking steps to avoid those problems.

There are lots of things that can go sideways in UX work. Good outcomes don’t happen by accident in this line of work.

Broadly speaking, there are two areas where you can run into problems. One, you can unintentionally design a poor user experience. Two, you can also run into problems in collaborating poorly with your team and your stakeholders.

I think of one software project where one designer on the team insisted that his design ideas were right, and I was not a fan of what he was doing, and—long story short—we were misaligned on a number of things, including what the real user problems were that we were trying to solve, and who had approval authority on designs.

It was a project full of problems that became apparent late in the game. Looking back, I wish we’d been able to get ahead of those problems and iron things out earlier.

You can’t anticipate every problem you might encounter. But here are a few tips to try to steer clear of trouble.

You can establish a checklist for UX quality. Or think of it more as a list of prompts or reminders. All sorts of things can go on the quality checklist. A few examples:

Did you make critical design decisions based on user research?

Did you organize your Figma file the same way as other designers on your team, for consistency?

Did you address accessibility concerns in the way you structured your content and UI components?

Design quality checklists are so helpful because when you’re moving fast it’s easy to skip or forget things. And this is one way to remember to do all the little things that will add up to a quality user experience.

Another tip is to hold retrospective discussions with your team to reflect on what’s going well and identify areas for improvement. Catch the little points of friction in team collaboration before they cause real sore spots.

Another tip: over-communicate with team members and stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This is especially critical when working remotely. Declare exactly what you’re going to do, and give regular updates, so the team has full awareness and can respond if they don’t think you’re doing the right thing, or you’re not doing it the way they expect you to.

I hope that helps. Keep asking your questions about UX.

Next time, I’ll answer the question: What soft skills are important in UX design?

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