How to Climb The Mt. Expectation Successfully
Here’s how to meet the cult of rising expectations in UX design and climb the ladder of success.
A new recruit in any organization depends on a smooth start. But for a UX trainee, understanding the job requirements may not be a smooth sail. Looking for a job is not difficult as the field is ripe with possibilities. But after landing a job, the young professional may be in for a few surprises. The first shocker is that nobody cares about the theoretical processes taught at colleges. All the things you learned in your Bachelor’s or Master’s may count for nothing. That is when the harsh truth of business hits you hard in the face.
Let me explain. Amid the nervous excitement of the first job, here is what you expect the design process to be:
First, you look forward to an informative debriefing session. You hope your maiden rendezvous with the client gives you firsthand information about the product: How it looks, feels, smells; the target users; the key mandates, and the deadlines.
Following the debriefing, everyone on the design staff branches out. What pans out in the days ahead is meetings, interactions with colleagues, whiteboard meetings, drawing board experiments, etc. The designers have a few review meetings with customers. We get to know how they think and what troubles them. Paper prototyping captures the first semblance of the design. Colleagues discuss in hushed tones about how the final output should look like. At the onset, the ideas are different; dissent makes them better. The whole churning, evolution, and brainstorming play a big role in assimilating different viewpoints and merging them in one seamless flow.
That’s what you expect to take place. But it does not follow this copybook pattern. The business leader or the key person may be desperate to get the product out in the marketplace as quickly as possible. Business pressures may cause him to overlook the sacred processes of UX design, leaving you to roll your eyes in disbelief. He may want to see through the task and jump to another. And why not? He has monthly payrolls to meet!
Market realities are so divorced from what they teach in academies that you spend a good part of your initial weeks unlearning and relearning. You have no other option to absorb the culture shock and move forward.
Now comes the big question: How to reconcile academic knowledge with end realities? 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒎𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒊𝒎𝒑𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒑 𝒕𝒐 𝒎𝒂𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒈𝒂𝒎𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒍𝒐𝒑 𝒄𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒈.
C̳r̳i̳t̳i̳c̳a̳l̳ ̳t̳h̳i̳n̳k̳i̳n̳g̳ ̳m̳e̳a̳n̳s̳ ̳t̳h̳e̳ ̳a̳b̳i̳l̳i̳t̳y̳ ̳t̳o̳ ̳e̳l̳i̳m̳i̳n̳a̳t̳e̳ ̳u̳n̳n̳e̳c̳e̳s̳s̳a̳r̳y̳ ̳s̳t̳e̳p̳s̳,̳ ̳f̳o̳r̳e̳s̳e̳e̳ ̳t̳h̳e̳ ̳c̳l̳i̳e̳n̳t̳’̳s̳ ̳o̳b̳j̳e̳c̳t̳i̳o̳n̳s̳,̳ ̳a̳n̳d̳ ̳t̳a̳k̳e̳ ̳c̳o̳r̳r̳e̳c̳t̳i̳v̳e̳ ̳a̳c̳t̳i̳o̳n̳ ̳b̳e̳f̳o̳r̳e̳h̳a̳n̳d̳.̳ Learn to think backward. Draw a preliminary sketch of the design that delivers the best result. Once you have developed the entire process, you can take it to the project leader, who may decide on the next call for action. Either the leader will inject his own ideas or take the output to the client for feedback.
No transition is easy. But there are ways to cope with the stress of a new job and ground realities. I hope the method explained above will save time, money, and blushes. It will help you to scale the peaks of your UX career.