Summary
A strong working relationship with UX designers is crucial to your team's success. Usually sitting b/w other key teams, UX designers are NOT just visual designers. This unique position, once better understood, can improve your overall research and impact.
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Point #1

UX design is not pure graphic design

User experience is different than traditional graphic design in several ways. Graphic design (usually in the form of branding/identity, packaging, illustration, etc.) is usually concerned with visual appearances and with differentiation.

UX design on the other hand, is usually focused on solving the same problems that UX research focuses on but visually.

Graphic designers also tend to have more freedom in their projects than a UX designer. Most graphic design projects are singular while a UX design project might span months and years.

Lastly, graphic designers are focused on the visuals (i.e. the "graphics") rather than just the experience. A UX designer should always prioritize the experience of using a product or service.

Action Steps

View UX designers as partners, not as problems

Make sure to treat a UX designer as an "experience-led" designer and not just a "visual/graphic" designer. They will approach the same problems as you do but just in a visual format. This key difference will help you view the design team as teammates.

Point #2

UX designers (usually) sit between business & engineering

UX designs are in charge of creating the UI (user interface) for a product while thinking through the user experience. They also tend to sit between business stakeholders and the engineering/development team.

This means a UX designer must balance your research recommendations, meet the business's goals/bottom lines and the create a design that is technologically feasible in the set period of team.

Ultimately, this means that what can be produced and shipped to the world, may not align with your research.

Because business and engineering teams and UX must work together, don't be discouraged if your recommendations don't come to life due to "business goals" or "the lack of infrastructure."

It's up to you and your UX design partners to balance all team's viewpoints and produce the best solution possible.

Research that's conducted perfectly isn't useful if the other teams can't implement your insights.
Action Steps

Research with the other teams in mind

If the research shows an "ideal" solution but either business/engineering can't support it, don't be discouraged if the UX design team produces a different solution. Everything in a growing product is about finding a balance. The good new is that if a "worse" solution is shipped, your past research might show why your initial solution is better.

Point #3

UX designers think in terms of pattern-libraries

In today's world, most products are built from an ever-changing pattern library. A pattern library is a set of components (fonts, colors, button styles, micro-interactions, etc.) that are standardized across a company/product/team.

A UX designer will more than likely reach for a component to solve a new problem. This is because it is far easier to repurpose a button (for example) than create one from scratch.

9 times out of 10, a new component will be created ONLY when there is some drastically new functionality that is being implemented.

But until that point, most UX designers will repurpose current components to their advantage. You'd be surprised how far a "standard" button can take your product!

Keep in mind, this is not about creating a solution for the UX designer. For example, a simple understanding of what a button does will help you tailor recommendations that use that button in the future.

Ultimately, it's up to the design team to create visual solution. But, it's up to you to give them the best insights to solve that problem. Understanding their pattern library is a key step in reducing any friction between the teams.

Action Steps

Present recommendations that work with the pattern library

Suggesting new visual designs to solve new problems isn't (usually) efficient, effective or feasible. Try to create a new solution from existing components before resorting to creating a new one.

Point #4

For a UX designer, consistency = usability

Imagine if every button looked drastically different on every website you went to. How would you know what to do? Or what if one site had the same button but it behaved or responded to you differently?

Now multiply this problem across the growing number of products in the world. In the world of pure visual design, this differentiation might be a good thing. It allows companies and products to be distinct and stand out in a crowded market.

But in UX, consistency is king. This process of creating visually consistent and recognizable elements is at the heart of UX design. If choosing between a unique button or something standardized, a UX designer will most likely choose the latter.

Consistent elements help to create a feeling of comfort and trust within a product. It also helps people accomplish the tasks they set out to do, while helping the business reach its goals.

Action Steps

Aim for consistency throughout the product

When researching new initiatives, make sure to keep the product's look/feel/user flows in mind when presenting research. Striving for consistency and clarity will help you communicate better with the UX design team.

UX researchers and designers are on the same team

Because UX researchers and designers belong to the "User Experience" team, understanding how to better work together is crucial for product success. The first step is to understand how a UX designer thinks.

This will help you better communicate your findings, save time/money on new initiatives and better work with the other teams in your organization. Over time, this improved working relationship will help you create a better product that you, your teams and in the end, the user will love to experience.

Action Steps
Action Steps

Listen to "Your Research Character."

The concept of the "research persona" or "research character" isn't something common but is very important to consider. Who you are in your daily life and who you have to become in your qualitative & direct research sessions are (and should) be two separate things.

Laura & Kate dive into this concept and help you understand the line between standardized & human research.

Action Steps

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Action Steps

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