For the modern day UX designer, creating intuitives products, simplifying users' lives and creating engaging experiences is essential. However, more and more UX Designers nowadays are utilized as UI Designers. This means both that UX designers have little or no opportunity to measure their business impact and that the industry produces less user-centered products. Here are some common scenarios to look out for.
There are two very common situations when it comes to UX in companies:
- Companies often don't know exactly what UX is supposed to do (and UX designers aren't rectifying that issue) or
- Companies do in fact know what UX is supposed to do but they're not willing to put in the effort to adopt the UX mindset.
If you're already in a UX role and wondering whether you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, here are a couple of the red flags you should look out for:
Exclusion from strategy meetings
In order to create a great product and customer journey, a UX designer needs to know the road ahead. It's incredibly important to get this information first hand. This isn't possible if the stakeholders and project managers don't include the UX designer in their strategy meetings.
Why is this a problem? Managers, developers and analysts all look for different things in these strategy meetings. Often, this is how the question of the users is overlooked. UX designers are there to simplify the users' lives. If you're not included, you'll only get second-hand information that might be missing important aspects for you to have maximum impact.
If you don't know where the end destination is, how will you know when you get there?
UX processes in isolation
UX is a company-wide process, not a role done in isolation. If you're doing your research, designing and testing in isolation, you're probably doing it for your own sake. In this case, your efforts might never see the light of day.
Why this is bad: Working in isolation means that you are the only one following some kind of UX process and might seem like you're creating extra work for the team as opposed to creating opportunities for improvement. UX designers need to help shape the vision of a product and working in isolation, you'll never achieve that.
Tip: In order to have a meaningful impact on the business and be user-centered, the whole team should follow an established process that links your findings into everyone's everyday work. Sure, it's a little more effort. but the output will be of much higher quality.
UX as mere execution
Based on this previous point, it becomes quite clear that UX is a facilitation process, not an execution role. While designing is a part of UX, it's but a mere fraction. If you're spending the majority of your time designing user interfaces - either specced by project managers or picked up from the backlog, you're not doing actual UX work.
Why this is bad: Building user interfaces is, of course, incredibly important. That said, every UI needs method in its madness. You can't build useful UIs or features without knowing what you're trying to solve: Without user insights, research and clear goals, you're not improving the users' experience of your product.
Lack of metrics / no measurement of business impact
Real UX means you need measurable, realistic outcomes and goals. Streamlining processes or features without solving an actual existing issue means you're potentially just revamping something that's already working just fine.
Why this is bad: Without success metrics, you won't be able to indicate how the product has been improved and in a UX Designer's case, that's the golden egg. If you cannot measure the success of your work, you might very well be sitting with a project that either causes huge frustrations or a lot of churning, without you even knowing it. Real UX improvements should always be measurable, whether it is to increase revenue, improve retention rate, reduce task completion time, reduce drop-offs or increase customers' net promoter scores. There's always something to measure.
If you don't track & measure the success of your work, you're not doing UX work.
Actual UX at a company - harder to find than the Adonis Rex?
So am I saying that it's impossible to find an opportunity with a company that actually practises UX? Not at all! You just need to know what to look out for.
By being aware of these general pitfalls and challenges, you can quickly determine if you're growing as a UX designer or not. Obviously, all of the points mentioned above can be overcome, but you need collaboration and willingness from your team. Should you find yourself in an environment that is less supportive, then no amount of UX Evangelism will change their minds.
Should you decide to switch jobs, make sure to ask smart questions in your interviews to avoid landing in a role with fake UX work.
Useful resources to learn more
Brendin is a UX Designer, Product Designer & Startup Enthusiast - Fueled by great products, big dreams and new possibilities. On a quest to restore the true meaning of UX. He loves blogging, being creative, watching Rafa, backing CR7 and is emotionally passionate about Gibson & Apple.