The late Steve Jobs once said, “it is not the job of the customers to know what they want”. While this insight may seem simple, it is actually quite profound.
This is because the best products on the market solve problems that customers aren’t even aware they have. In other words, the people who create masterful products are hacking into the deepest inner workings of customers’ psyches, and then delivering delightful solutions based on what has been uncovered.
The creators of these products are not limited to Founders, CEOs, or Product Managers. Launching a product is a team effort, but one of the most crucial contributing roles comes from the UX Designer.
Bringing to life a top-notch user experience for people who are searching for solutions is critical to the development process. Even more so, the sum of the features of a product journey is often what defines whether an individual becomes a customer (maybe even a lifetime supporter).
Because of this, there is a clear distinction between UX Designers who are average, and those who are masterful. Fortunately for those who want to set themselves apart from the rest, there are several techniques that can help you take your UX skills to the next level.
Product Over Features
Far too often aspiring UX Designers heavily focus their energy on the features of a product. While this isn’t necessarily a bad practice, it isn’t the optimal way of approaching user experiences.
Instead, the new school of thought says that the best UX Designers think in terms of the product as a whole. Nikkel Blaase – a thought leader in this field – says that features are only a small portion of making user experience easier and more delightful. He continues by saying that what UX designers should place their priority in is the “core user experience”.
Let’s use the food delivery app Postmates as an example.
The core user experience in this case is convenient food delivery from a variety of restaurants. A delightful feature that is included
The best UX designers will focus their energy on the main goal of the product (i.e. delivery of a large selection food) before they consider additional features (tracking delivery people). Essentially, features amount to “branches” of the core experience of the “product tree”. They grow off the main body, rather than being their own entity.
Breaking down the conclusion of Nikkel Blaase, UX Designers who want to distinguish themselves should always uncover primary function of a product and then build accordingly. Once you start thinking in the mindset of a product, you can then shift focus and think of features.
Beyond The Individual Consumer
Many assume that UX design centers solely around the customer experience of a given product. This strategy, however, is quickly becoming outdated. Now, the focus of UX Design goes beyond the customer, and into the realm of the experience for a business.
What this amounts to is approaching design from the standpoint of a company’s internal departments. More specifically, the journey of a product (or whatever project you as a UX specialist are designing) must now be seen through the eyes of decision makers within a business (i.e. C-level executives, Product Managers, and even other UX people).
Designers who use optimal strategies are able to think on this scope. In other words, those who penetrate product experiences beyond the individual are setting themselves and their company up for the greatest amount of success.
Thinking about UX from this perspective also allows designers to create a wholistic picture of the product journey. This complete vision will highlight features that can create an even greater product than initially anticipated.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Just like a Product Manager, UX Designers should not rely on their opinion alone. Rather, it is their job to command the design strategy, but with the assistance and input of those in neighboring departments.
Having synchronized vision helps create a clear picture of the product experience not only from the user standpoint but from the UX designer and Product Manager standpoint as well. This, in turn, allows you as a UX Designer to find flaws that you might have not seen on your own.
Additionally, by solidifying yourself as a team player who values other opinions, you are demonstrating effective leadership traits. UX Designers who lead by this type of example will also have an easier time presenting ideas, as well as managing situations that are less than ideal.
Approaching all things UX with this mindset is essentially setting your product experience up to be bulletproof in the long run. Of course, you may run into roadblocks at a certain point, but these are much easier to overcome when the strategy is fortified by other departments.
You Are The Journey
Don’t be mistaken, the entire company is responsible for creating products that customers love or need (or both!). But you as the UX Designer are responsible for guiding them on the path towards discovering their love for the product.
So as the role of UX Designers continues to grow in terms of importance, those who take the time to learn the best practices will inevitably end up as top-dogs in the field. These same people will likely be the individuals who are responsible for making products that are considered groundbreaking by the rest of the world.
Are you a UX Designer who has additional practices that your peers should know about? Let us know! Drop us a line on our slack channel and tell us your experiences!