For the past several years, I have been involved in several UX and UI projects. I love going to work. Every day I get to build creative and interesting things. I also enjoy keeping up with the latest trends and enjoy discussing them with members of my team.
Over that time, I have noticed that the most delightful designers that I have worked with tend to have a few things in common.
Start off every project by asking questions, like “Why do you want to make it that way? What is your thought process behind that?” Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge the basic ideas of a project.
From my experience, many of the ideas that clients bring to the table are based on personal preferences and assumptions that don’t hold water when tested amongst real world users.
Don’t be afraid to help your client solve a problem in a better way. Dig in and investigate the best way to meet a consumer’s needs. If you can deduce a better way to do it, not only will you earn your client’s trust but you will improve their product. This is how you build long-term relationships.
Seeking for answers can take a lot of time and sometimes we just don’t have that much of it. But believe me, by asking the right questions, in the beginning, it will make the project clearer and more understandable and help you evaluate the best way to accomplish the task.
If you don’t understand what your client wants to do or why you can’t possibly reach the best possible solution.
Understand how humans interact
I like to spend time watching how people interact. This not only helps me understand how they interact with each other but how they interact with technology.
Good design tends to be easy for people to understand. People can relate to it in the same way that they relate to other items in their daily lives. People have set patterns that they have developed that create a foundation for how they interact with the physical and digital world.
When a designer of physical or digital products first approaches a project, it is important that they understand why people behave the way they do. The best way to do this is to see them interact in real life. Pay attention to how others interact around you. How do they hold their phone? What are they doing while working on their laptop? These details help to improve user experiences.
Better yet, conduct some focus groups to build an even more robust understanding of how individuals interact with websites and mobile apps.
When we start working on a project we often discuss the assumptions we are making and then challenge them to make sure they are correct. Is a certain way really how people use mobile apps? Do they think of particular functions in the terms you assume they do? Get to know human behavior and then you truly can create elegant interfaces that people enjoy interacting with.
Designers who regularly surprise me with captivating designs always seem to have a diverse set of interests.
The diversity of experience, perspective and interests can all be pulled to enhance designs to create something truly special. Think about it, if all designers pulled from the same set of best practices without pulling in additional ideas or perspectives, the design would quickly become rather boring and mundane.
Just like herbs and spices make foods fascinating and enjoyable, pulling in diverse and often unexpected elements make designs more interesting and pleasing. But how is one able to pull in diverse ideas? First of all, they must expose themselves to a wide assortment of ideas and experiences.
It’s only by opening one’s mind that we can fill it with a surplus of dissimilar ideas to pull from. Go ahead and do something different today. Go to a museum you wouldn’t normally go to, read a book that you generally wouldn’t pick up, or find your own way to start expanding your pool of information to pull from.
Have an eye for detail
Doing the little things right can make a huge difference. You probably can’t find an industry where attention to detail isn’t essential. From professional athletes to software developers to architects, it is important to pay attention to the little things.
Last week I ordered a couple bags of my favorite pancake mix from Washington and found a couple candies in the package when it arrived. While I would order this product anyway, that little extra made a big impression.
Attention to detail not only helps prevent mistakes but it makes success more likely. The key to attention to detail is a commitment to go the extra mile. By doing so, your clients will feel like you care about them and be more likely to do business with you again. Make sure every product and service you offer is of high quality. Work to create a memorable experience that users will enjoy.
Apple showcases attention to detail on a regular basis. Apple’s lines of notebook computers truly display this concept. Not only are the beautiful to look at, but they are also incredibly functional. Consider how each Apple laptop has a small indentation just below the trackpad. This design choice makes opening up a laptop with one hand that much easier for users.
Break the rules
It’s important to know best practices and to utilize them to improve your designs.
However if everyone followed the same set of rules with every design, things would be pretty boring pretty quickly. Big leaps forward often come when someone decides to challenges trends and break the rules.
If you don’t believe me think about back when everyone was carrying around flip phones and then Apple decided to do something different and released the iPhone.
Sure, guidelines can help designers design quickly and make consistent, high-quality designs. But sometimes, a different tack can produce big results. That isn’t to say that designers should always be looking for off-the-wall solutions.
Don’t be afraid to break the rules, if it makes sense. Perhaps a different form or style will actually bring more value to the context. Don’t be afraid to improve upon what everyone else is doing.