To all UX-designers: Stop working alone, start pair designing and embrace collaboration.
4 min read
By Linn Harbo Dahle
December 2, 2022
Brannfakkel (Norwegian): A torch, ment to be thrown. A statement ment to spark debate.
We want to build a culture in the design industry where we dare to talk about what is difficult – because there is no better way to advance the profession. In this series, originally posted on UXNorge.no in Norwegian, we are sharing 🔥 brannfakler 🔥. Do you agree? Disagree? Join the discussion!
UX-designers may find it frustrating that others have opinions about their design. That it's tiring that anybody can say how the digital product should work.
But it's not your design! As a UX-designer you´re part of a team. What the users experience out there in the real world - that is the design. And so many people were a part of creating it! The whole product team decides what to make, and how it is made. That is what interdisciplinary collaboration really is.
Everybody can have an opinion about how something should work. Which component from the design system we should use. Or if this or that button should be bigger. It doesn't mean that it will become a great design, but everyone is able to have opinions about it. Think about what these opinions really are. It´s commitment. People who really want the product to become the best product for the users. This is something we as UX-designers should cheer on!
When we UX-designers sit alone and sketch, we end up creating sketches that we hand over to others. While sketching we consider lots of different possibilities and end up making many small and big decisions in the process. We might think that these sketches are the design of the product, but what it really is is just a way of communicating what the team could develop. It´s 2022. We can't continue with handovers in an agile team making digital solutions! If we simply hand over sketches, we are not collaborating. We are wasting time on misunderstandings between team members. If you get input and the discussion happens after you have landed on what you think is the best, that will not make a useful discussion! If you think we don't have time for the interdisciplinary discussions, that it will take too much time, I’m here to tell you that those discussions will come anyway but they will just come at a later stage. If we continue with handovers we remove the possibility of developing co-ownership for the product we make. An ownership to the whole product, and to all those big and small decisions on why it looks like it does, and works like it does.
Don't work alone with your sketches. I’m not saying this is easy. There will be more discussions and disagreements than if you sit with your design by yourself. Try to pair design with your team. Include the developers and the product manager. We might have to think a bit more about our arguments and explain why we think that a radio button rather than a dropdown-menu works best in this context. Or why we should make this rather than that. It might be a bit more stressful to dig deep to find the words to argue. But maybe this can lead to a better product over all?
The whole group that is pair designing has to argue and explain their opinions. No one can continue to throw out suggestions or opinions, but rather start to explain why they think one product decision is better than the other. Dear UX-designer, give your team the opportunity to be closer to the big and small product decisions. This gives everyone the opportunity to understand the complexity around the users and the domain that we need to have knowledge about to make the best product choices.
If you think that you can't start working like this in your team. If you will be too unpleasant. If it's too stressful to discuss with your closest collaborators... Then you have to do something about that challenge. Try a Team Canvas, build psychological safety, and so on.
Stop handing over sketches in your team. Involve the team, sketch together, and empower the team to see the users perspective and start pair designing. Don´t bother being right. There is no perfect way to design a user interface. Decide together how the product should work!
What did you feel while reading? Did it spark something in you? Do you agree or disagree? Join the discussion on UX Norge's slack (Norwegian) or share this article with your colleagues and start a debate! Remember that the goal of Brannfakler is to start discussion!