On January 3rd, 2017, I wrote on Instagram;

My New Years resolution this year is to help make getting into UX and Design more accessible and easier than ever before. So, tell me one thing you want to work on this year or one thing that you’d like me to post more about that would help you reach your design goals

One year on, and I’m reflecting on how I’ve performed! Looking at the growth of my catalogue of UX-focused articles, videos and social media posts, I feel pretty good that I’ve gone some way to reach my goal of making learning UX more approachable.

In this spirit, I wanted to highlight some of my favourite UX nuggets that I’ve shared on Instagram this year! (PS if you haven’t done so already, follow me on Instagram to get even more UX goodness next year!)

1. Done is better than perfect

Sometimes time is not on my side. Sometimes the project deadlines are so tight, or things get moved around unexpectedly, and I don't end up having enough time to make things as perfect as I want to. Sometimes it's not just time, but budgets, clients, stakeholders, technical constraints or business goals, that change, again and again and again, that mean I have to compromise my design vision. But, then I remind myself that it's not really "compromising my design vision" if my design vision can't actually be executed. It's my job to design something that can actually be built and delivered, on time and on budget. Because although my work needs to be the best it can be, there's no such thing as 'perfect' in a world of real clients and real situations. There's only 'done' and 'not done'. And delivery outweighs perfection every time. • • #UX #UXD #UXDesign #Design #DesignLife #DesignProcess #UXProcess #Designing #UXDesigner #UXLife #Collaboration #UIDesign #WebDesign #WebDesigner #InteractionDesign #GraphicDesign #DesignersOnInstagram #UXUI #DesignLife #DesignProcess #BeingADesigner #DesignAgency #DesignCareer #DesignExperience #DesignInsights

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2. How to plan out your prototypes for testing

High energy but tiring day yesterday as we planned some mini-prototypes that we want to test. We have 3 solutions (A, B + C) to build as prototypes – each has a quick storyboard for how we imagine it'll work. In red we've written the standout points that each variant is surfacing and in green we've written out high-level testing objectives. Though it looks rough and ready, this is essentially what we will be working off to create higher-fidelity prototypes for testing on Thursday. #GoTeam💪⠀ •⠀ •⠀ #UX #UXD #UXDesign #Design #DesignLife #DesignProcess #UXProcess #Wireframes #Wireframe #Wireframing #Designing #DesignReview #UXDesigner #ProductDesign #Sketches #Sketching #LowFidelityDesigns #UXLife #UserFirst #UserFocus #UCD #UserCenteredDesign #DesignThinking #Prototyping #UXPrototyping #DesignSprint

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3. Put down your self-doubt

4. My 8 steps of design sprints (click right to see all 8 steps)

5. Define your agreed assumptions

Today’s activity: staring down this big wall of post-its that we created with our developers about our “agreed assumptions” on a new feature. Defining your agreed assumptions with your product and development team is a hugely important part of design – there has been many a project that, despite seemingly good communication, has faltered because of a misunderstanding between design and developers. So now, my best practise is to have a working session where you all define your agreed assumptions in lots of detail, and document it all, so that everybody has a real shared understanding of what it is you are building. • • #AllThePostIts #PostIts #UX #UXD #UXDesign #Design #DesignLife #DesignProcess #UXProcess #UserFlow #UXCollaboration #DesignReview #UXDesigner #UXLife #Collaboration #WebDeveloper #WebDesign #WebDesigner #DesignersOnInstagram #UXIgers

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6. Finding your perfect “zone”

What’s the ideal zone to operate in at work? Too easy and you won’t be getting challenged, you won’t be learning, and you’ll plateau. Too hard and you’ll probably be overwhelmed, panicked and burn out. There is an optimal zone, called a “Growth Edge” by positive psychologists, which sits right outside our comfort zone – in which you’ll be continually challenged + stretched, so that you can learn and progress but not crash and burn. In our roles as designers, we are continually needing to update our skillsets and adapt to new challenges, so its really important to find the right zone in which to operate. So, where are you in your current role? If in Easy, it might be time to look for your next challenge! If in Over the Edge, how can you ask for help and support, or take it down a gear? And if you’re riding that Growth Edge, how can you make the most of it and what are you challenging yourself with right now?? 💪 • • #DesignLife #DesignProcess #BeingADesigner #DesignCareer #NeverStopLearning #UXLife #UXIgers #GrowthEdge #UXProcess #DesignersOnInstagram #UXDesigner

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7. Quick tips for stellar design research

Quick tip on design research : whether you're using post-its or something else to jot down insights, make sure you label them so you can trace them back to a particular participant. I use "P1" for Participant 1, "P2" for the second one etc etc to keep track of who said or did what. This helps when you're analysing your findings so you can track patterns of behaviour, for example, seeing how many different participants did or said similar things, and also when you're writing it up so that there is a clear trail back to particular participants which can give your findings a bit more credibility 👌 • • #UserFirst #UserFocus #UserResearcher #UCD #UserCenteredDesign #DesignThinking #ExperienceDesign #DesignResearch #UserResearch #UX #UXD #UXDesign #UXLife #UXProcess

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8. How to help Product define priorities well

Something that I find useful when I’m trying to get users or stakeholders to prioritise features is to ask them to plot the features on this matrix. This is a physical exercise where you give people cards/post-its to place in the various quadrants – there is something very powerful about holding a feature actually in your hands. Get your users/stakeholders to place your list of features in the quadrants above – the sweet spot are features that they would use constantly and that they would expect, then it would be things they would use constantly and would be unexpectedly delightful. To prioritise further from that group, I recommend asking users or stakeholders to consider the features within a vertical hierarchy (i.e. as if they were seeing it on their mobile phone). What would be at the top all the way to the bottom? The helps people commit to a priority order but forcing them to think about it on a mobile screen. Its a good exercise, with minimal set up, that can really help focus your team. • • #UserFirst #UserFocus #UserResearcher #UCD #UserCenteredDesign #DesignThinking #ExperienceDesign #DesignResearch #UserResearch #CardSorting #UX #UXD #UXDesign #UXLife #UXProcess #CreativeFacilitation #PrioritisignFeatures #ProductManagement #ProductDesign

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9. Why I take photos of my work

10. The right way to use post-its

11. Your framework for growing as a designer

How do you want to grow as a designer? Especially in the fast-paced and ever-evolving environment that we work in, regularly reviewing your career and development goals is super important. I enjoyed this quickie starter framework that Jane Murison (Head of UX at the BBC, pictured) described to us in a recent workshop. What I liked about it was that it shows you how you have grown over time and helps you really visualise where you want yourself to be in 12 months time. It also makes you give an honest assessment of where you feel you are right NOW, rather than just simply looking to the past and to the future. I'll be running this exercise for myself in the next week – but I'm interested to hear if you have any different techniques or frameworks that let you do some self-reflection and planning for your career development – shout in the comments! 😬 • • #UX #UXDevelopment #CareerDevelopment #GoalSetting #UXJob #UXLife #UXProcess #UXDesigner #UXDesigning #SettingGoals #CareerGoals #UXDesign

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12. How to take notes during usability testing

How do you take notes during usability testing? I usually find that running the usability testing is all very well, but making sense of the often sprawling notes that come out of it can be a more difficult challenge. So, something that I’ve been recently experimenting with is: stick a piece of flipchart paper on the wall for every participant that you’re testing with. On each piece of paper, make 4 headings – Problems, Opportunities, Insights and Needs – these will be the main categories of things that you’ll be listening out for while the usability test is going on. With your trusty block of post-its, whenever you hear the participant talking about something in one of those categories, make a note on the post-it and stick it up underneath the correct section on their participant flipchart sheet. By the end of the session, you should have useful and targeted notes from participant, which will be easier for you to action later. • • #UserFirst #UserFocus #UserResearcher #UCD #UserCenteredDesign #DesignThinking #ExperienceDesign #DesignResearch #UserResearch #CardSorting #UX #UXD #UXDesign #UXLife #UXProcess #UsabilityTesting #UserTesting #UserTest #UsabilityTest #UXDesigner #UXDesigning #UXJob

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13. Why UX memes are meaningless

14. Why to ask WHY

LIKE this post if this quote resonates with you. I’ve been guilty of designing things for clients in the past where I wasn’t sure if my design was actually meeting any real user needs. I'd spend too long finessing interactions or designing the best icon, without spending enough time interrogating WHY I was designing it and how it benefits people. So, how to ensure we aren’t just designing beautiful things, but things that actually serve our users? Here’s 4 ideas: 🔺 Practise Asking Why. This is step 1 when presented with a problem, so that you can understand where the brief comes from. You may need to help distil a brief down so it maps to real user needs. 🔺 Get educated. There are plenty of resources online to learn more about design research. You’ll start to then spot more opportunities for research and grow more capable of doing research yourself. 🔺 Be the voice of users. So your client has no budget for research, or its just not valued? Step up + make it your mission to be THAT person who is advocating for users. Whether its helping colleagues see the value of talking to users or getting out the office at lunch to ask people for 5 mins to look at a prototype, there is always SOMETHING that you can do. 🔺 Evaluate. Your work might feel like its done once the product has been built, but in reality, it's just the beginning – someone will have to use what you’ve designed! It’s your responsibility to ensure that their experience will exceed their expectations. So, whether its observing people using your product, reviewing statistics to understand usage, or talking to customer service in your company to get feedback, there is something you can do to follow up. • • #UX #UXD #UXDesign #Design #DesignLife #DesignProcess #UXLife #Process #UXCareer #UXJob #uxdesigning #uxdesigner #UserFirst #UserFocus #UserResearcher #UCD #UserCenteredDesign #DesignThinking #ExperienceDesign #DesignResearch #UserResearch #PeterDrucker #UsabilityTesting #WebDesign #WebDesigner #UXUI #UIUX #GraphicDesign

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15. A framework for mapping out user types

16. You’re not doing UX if..

17. Why communication in teams is hard

18. My must-have UX and Design supplies

One day it might be paper prototyping, and the next day sketching some wireframes. The day after that, I might need to run an impromptu workshop or design critique… All these activities require materials to make them work and that’s why I always carry around a comprehensive set of supplies! My list of must-have things that are always in my bag are: – Sharpies – Post it’s – Thin black marker – Ruler – Craft knife – Greyscale Pro markers – Highlighters (2 colours) – Sticky dots – Blue tack What are your must-have #Design and #UX supplies? • • • #uxdesignerlife #UXD #UXDesign #UXDesigner #UXdesigning #UXLife #UXProcess #UXgram #InstaUX #UXUI #UIUX #DesignLife #DesignProcess #UXtool #uxtools #uxsupplies #designsupplies #designtool #designtools

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19. My 4 sprint planning questions

One of my favourite ways to work is in a team that work in structured two-week blocks called Sprints. All work is planned in two week increments, and at the beginning of each new two week block, you sit down together as a team to work out what you can deliver over the next couple of weeks. I always aim to leave these sprint planning meetings with answers to the questions above. I find this gave me a really good structure for the weeks ahead and makes me feel confident that I know what I need to do and how to make it happen👌 ・ ・ #UX #UXDesign #Designing #DesignLife #DesignProcess #UXLife #UXProcess #UXPortfolio #UXCareer #UXJob #SprintPlanning #SprintProcess #DesignSprint #DesignSprints #UXUI #UIUX #UXUIDesign #UIUXDesign #UXUIDesigner #UIUXDesigner #ProductDesign #ProductDesigner #DigitalDesign #DigitalDesigner #WebDesign #WebDesigner

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20. The three people to always watch

21. Why Inclusive Design is so important

This is a great graphic from Microsoft showing why inclusive design is more than just thinking about people with disabilities. Microsoft says “Designing for people with permanent disabilities actually results in designs that benefit people universally. Constraints are a beautiful thing.” • Tag a designer friend to share this message with more designers! 😬 • • #a11y #accessibility #webaccessibility #uxdesign #ux #uxd #uxdesigner #uxlife #uxprocess #uxdesignerlife #uxui #uiux #webdesign #webdesigner #productdesign #uidesign #uidesigner #visualdesign #inclusion #inclusivedesign #userexperience #interactiondesign #designculture #designthinking #designforeveryone #designcommunity #digital #designtech

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I’m really excited that I’ve been able to share some of my working practises, insights and tips earned from a decade of practising UX and design with you all over the last year. But what is coming next?

It would make my 2017 if you could comment below with something you’d like to hear more about from me next year, as well as sharing some of these insights with your colleagues and networksThank you!

PS! If you’re interested to hear more from me with practical tips for working as a UX designer, do consider signing up for my upcoming courses – sign up here.

Author

Design lead, watermelon addict, Leuchtterm notebook obsessive. I just enjoy designing great experiences for people that just work, writing about my craft and connecting with designers everywhere. Find me on Instagram, Twitter and Google+.

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