#3 Magic of being hands-on

I cannot stress enough the importance of being hands-on.

What do I mean by hands-on?

As a UX designer, being hands-on means actually work on UX projects, defining a problem statement, researching competitors, creating UX concepts in forms of task flows, wireframes and prototypes, conducting user test sessions, summarizing user test findings, iterating design based on the findings…and so on.

One of unique abilities that a human has is to be able to think and imagine things that hasn’t happened yet.

This is great, so that you can simulate various scenarios in your head to be prepared for the future.

But at the same time, this ability sometimes gets in your way.

You tend to overthink too much of your future.

And when you do, you tend to think of negative scenarios, and start worrying about those which are totally illusionary!

One of the best ways to avoid this is to always remain hands-on.

Once you start focusing on your current concrete task for your UX project, it shifts your attention from illusion to reality.

Because concrete tasks are tangible and real, it allows you to start building a positive feedback loop between your work and yourself.

Once this feedback loop kicks in, your motivation kicks in too.

Concrete tasks such as creating wireframes has tangible output that you create.

As soon as you start seeing a tangible output, you start wanting to improve it.

Even if you get stuck in your own feedback loop, now that you have a tangible output, you can get other people’s feedback, which might give you a totally different, refreshing perspective.

This positive feedback loop is a very powerful mechanism.

It serves as an engine to keep your work moving forward.

Even if you start very simple and rough, you will be amazed how much it will grow to something quite interesting fairly quickly!

As part of being hands-on, it’s also very helpful to include physical works such as creating hand-drawn sketches for your concepts, creating task flows using post-its, for example.

Great thing about being hands-on is that the more different ways that you engage with, the more stimulation that you get, which fuels your positive feedback loop engine even more.

It’s like a magic!

So, always be hands-on, start creating a tangible output, and start your positive feedback loop!

Keep fueling your positive feedback loop.

Talk to people around you and ask for comments and feedback.

Engage with physical activities to stimulate your 5 senses.

Create post-its and organize those on a wall.

Print out your wireframes and task flows and put those on a wall or a table. 

Create hand-drawn sketches.

Create prototypes.

Being hands-on is the key.

It initiates a positive feedback loop, which takes you a long way.

Happy hands-on creation!

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#2 Collaboration with PM and engineer is critical for a UX designer

UX designer needs to have a good understanding of a product roadmap and a value proposition of what you are designing for.

When you are studying UX, you focus deeply within the world of UX, which tends to put UX in a vacuum.

But in reality, UX does not exist by itself.

UX is part of a larger product team.

Nothing happens without collaboration with PM and engineers.

A beautiful UX prototype means nothing if it’s not implemented as a real product, which needs to be coded by engineers.

And engineer’s work is prioritized by PM, who owns a product roadmap.

Many UX education tends to ignore this important reality.

But this is critical for a success of a UX designer.

UX advocates users through user-centered design, with must be heard by a larger product team, especially by PM and engineers.

Ultimately, UX solution needs to be balanced with product roadmap and engineering feasibility.

UX may need to be adjusted if it’s not feasible to implement under the current roadmap and engineering resources, which requires tight collaboration with PM and engineers.

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#1 Being a UX designer is a journey of continuous learning

The field of UX is still new and constantly evolving and expanding. Underlying technologies are also constantly evolving and expanding as well.

As a result, UX designers are in a constant stream of new things to learn, on top of a pile of fundamental things to begin with.

Fundamentals such as…user-centered design, task flow, use cases, storyboards, wireframes, information architecture, interaction design, prototypes, visual design, motion design, multi-modal experience, design iteration, user story, user journey map, end to end user experience, OOBE, brainstorming, affinity map…/etc.

Design tools such as…Sketch, Adobe XD, Axure, invision, Balsamiq, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Edge…/etc.

User research components such as…user test, usability test, ethnography test, qualitative research, quantitative research, survey, focus group, contextual inquiry, A/B testing, user research findings, persona, empathy map…/etc.

User research tools such as…Survey Monkey, Typeform, Google forms…/etc.

Analytics tools such as…Google Analytics and so on.

UX process, methodology, and concepts such as…iterative design process, lean design process, user behavior models, design thinking, design system, inclusive design, accessibility, responsive design…/etc.

UX trends such as …flat design, micro interaction, voice interaction, chatbot, data visualization, automation…/etc.

New technology trends such as…AI, Machine learning, robotics, VR, AR, voice assistants, self-driving cars…/etc.

Larger product team process and management tools such as…agile methodology, Jira, Confluence, sharepoint, box, dropbox, webex, Kano Model…/etc.

The list goes on and on…

New technology enables new user experience, which requires a new interaction paradigm.

New UX process, techniques and tools changes the way UX designers work.

How do I keep up with all these?

Sit back and relax. No one can take everything all at once!

Everyone learns things over time. Just set a priority, and take one at a time at your own pace.

Enjoy the learning process as you go.

The fact that the world of UX is still evolving and expanding makes it so dynamic and exciting to be a UX designer!

As long as you enjoy learning new things, you will be OK!

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