Why I stop designing alone

I’m an introvert. At least, that’s what I have believed since I understand the terms and read The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. I enjoy activities that require only 1 person. I like having authority to decide and move things fast. That’s pretty much the reason why I loved being a designer 2 years ago. I used to spend long time on making things perfect in my own corner for 2 days, then presented it to my boss. The result seemed to resonate with lucky draw. After learning Lean UX and how feedbacks help better design, I have been more open to feedbacks and surprised at how vital it is to product design.

One day, I was working on a project at wireframing stage. I keep going back and forth between user flow and the wireframe to assess the interaction flow in the new feature we were designing. I had been working on it for the past hour but couldn’t finished. I looked at messy sketching work and decided to ask for feedback from my Product Manager. I show him the user flow then the wireframe to help him visualise it. Instead of focusing on the incompleteness of the wireframe, he gave some ideas of how the user flow can be better or how it can be translated better to wireframe. After the discussion, almost all blocking points in my project had been cleared. I have learnt a few lessons from this event:

  • Present design with context and process behind it. I presented the user flow and how it look in wireframe. This help my Product Manager understand the wireframe better. Our conversation is focused on phrases like “When user does this”, “User see”, “User think”. The focus is on those people we want to help, not our own egos. The user flow create a context that orient the feedback toward user-based approach. Presenting the design to some one next to you is the first step in designing a product to as mass audience.

  • Leave your ego at the door. I had been concerned with my messy sketching and incomplete wireframe sometimes. I felt reluctant to show people. I thought it is my perfectionist’s habit. But the reason is my fear of failure. In a good design process, designer might not be the person with best idea, but the person can develop the best idea from feedback and implement it. This is a far more advanced skill than visual skills. If you listen to people, you will learn a lot from you since they have different perspectives. If you keep staring at the design with the same perspective, there is no improvement.

  • Ask more question “Why”. This is often overlooked. Among questions types, “Why” tends to be a tough one to be answered. “Why do I have to do this?”. When designing features, asking why we need to have this features first, and then “Whom”, “What” and “How” will come easily into the picture and be answered momentarily.

  • You are not alone (even in one-man team). You are designing with developers, users, product managers. I tend to see many great ideas coming from people not in design team. Everyone cares about design. I believe that’s a good thing to have in any product company.

There are more aspects of designing with feedbacks and how understanding lean UX can help designers. I will cover this in other posts.

I have been working for new job for 3 months. It has been quite a ride. I learn new skills and knowledge everyday and hope to share them more often in this blog. Thanks for passing by today :)