Over time, I’ve seen good and bad designers, and good and bad design. What is good or bad design varies depending on the purpose of the design. For each purpose, there’s a different set of rules and skills which apply to good design.
Here’s my list of 3 principles for good UX design:
- Treat design as a language in and of itself.
With your designs, you’re conveying information in more or less the same way a spoken language would. For example, different fonts can be likened to a harsh or a soft tone of voice, element size to articulation, and so on. Find a voice to fit your project and speak the language of your users – or try to captivate them with a new one, if you’re daring.
Doing and iterating are the main pillars of a good UX process. You can prepare a speech or stand-up comedy bit for as long as you like, but you will never know for sure how it will be received until you test or perform it. Doing and iterating will grant you a tried-and-true design that resonates beautifully with your user, because you had the chance to tune it to perfection.
- The people on a project are the ones least qualified to judge its’ outcome.
We’ve all had those projects we spent ages on – and blood, sweat and tears. At the end of the project, you’ll be perfectly versed in the design language of it. Chances are, though, you’ve taught yourself German while your user is speaking French. It is because we are so invested in our projects, our ‘darlings’, that we can’t reasonably see most of the flaws in our design – and so we are least qualified to judget the outcome of our own projects.
In order to achieve good UX design, you need to be a good UX designer. As a bonus, here’s some qualities that I think make a great designer:
- Creativity is no real requirement, being graphically literate is.
All of us are creative in some way, and even though we often need it, creativity is not something which makes designers unique. Though we make our design our art, we’re designers, not artists. What does make designers unique is their ability to understand (a.o.) visual language well enough to not only read it, but speak it as well – they’re not only able to consume engaging content, they know the rules well enough that they can produce it, too.
- Observational skills & empathy
UX design should resonate with the user, and therefore we must understand our user. Observation helps us understand the world of our users in great detail, and provides clues for empathy, which helps us understand the inner workings of our users in great detail. Without this information, resonating UX design really is ‘hit-or-miss’ – and a ‘miss’ is by far the most common result.
- Know when to… well, shut up
Yes, you love your project. But explaining your own thought process to your user for the 100th time trying to persuade them to see it from your perspective is definitely not going to make it better. Put your ego aside and use your energy to improve your project, not defend it. Knowing when to put the user above yourself is an essential skill in a good design process.
These principles help to keep me on my toes as a designer, and I hope they’ll inspire you to be a better designer every day.
See you in the next post!