Have you ever wanted to lean your UX design process down? Get some tips on which mistakes to watch out for before getting in over your head.
Whether you design for clients or part of a product team, I’m going to share some of the pitfalls I’ve run into during my many years as a UX designer. Now you don’t have to be a designer to understand and share some of the agonies these mistakes have caused during the creation of a software product. All parties involved feel this, such as engineers. Try to remember, the designer-to-engineer ratio. It could be 1 designer and 6–10 engineers. Can you imagine your 1-month worth of work, could possibly turn into 3–4 months worth of development work that goes sideways? That’s why I’m writing this…to hopefully help you.
As a UX Designer, we are detectives, investigators. Our job, when a new application lands on our laps or possibly a large feature, we want to first ask ourselves “Is our thinking aligned with the business and goals?”
These steps are not all required, and they depend on whether you’re building a product from scratch or redesigning an existing product.
We need to become familiar with all users, stakeholders, as well as the business goals and KPI.
Who’s impacted by skipping this step?
What I see so often, and I’ve done this myself, is automatically assuming that this step is possibly a one-round process due to its minimal effort. In these stages, many people might not be as familiar with specifics and the navigation, especially this early into the design process. So, you may get a lot of nods that it looks good which is also due to the eagerness of wanting to see some actual designs of screens. But this stage is critical for getting engagement from the product owner, stakeholders, and especially your lead developer.
This is the stage in which your lead developer needs to be completely aware of what you’re proposing. They’ll also be a great partner in bouncing ideas off of.
Areas you want to identify:
Maybe you have an established design system and this gives you a great excuse to jump into UI. And it is a great reason to skip wireframes. I even do it for pages such as a new list results page with standard filter and sort features.
However, if you have a new design that requires new features not yet explored, and a product team, and a leadership team, and possibly user testing — with all those factors, your time is best spent producing multiple options quickly and never focusing on pixel-perfect efforts.
But wait, that’s not the only excuse. When all teams involved and leadership review your options, you want them focused on the user experience only and not worried about any UI details. When you put UI in front of them, you could have one person ask a question in a meeting that derails the conversation for 20–30 minutes which is not what you wanted the focus on. You want everyone to focus on the user experience. I’m pretty sure many of you can agree on this situation happening.
You may have direction from leadership or a product owner that you need to speed up your design process to meet deadlines so that developers can begin. Out of about the 5–6 times I have done this, it has failed.
Why does it fail?
As you can see, having a design system in place will reduce debt across your design team and engineering team. Plus, reduce some crazy meetings trying to figure out how to fix all the work that’s been done.
Do you handoff your designs through Invision, Figma, a design file, or possibly GitHub? Do you expect your engineering team to review one page at a time, so they can see your design specifications? All this sounds great from a designer’s perspective, but you need to understand that it could be 1–2 months later when an engineer receives a task to start your designs. And our memories can only go so far as to recall conversations. And you may have reviewed the designs with the entire product team weeks back at the end of a sprint.
What to remember for a successful handoff to engineers
I don’t want to sound like my suggestions here are perfect for every designer or design team. They are circumstantial, and over years of practice and many mistakes, I have learned that you are constantly improving the process. It never ends.