Making Your Best Guess in UX Design
I have come to realize in the UI/UX design world that people are constantly searching for perfection that isn’t there. They are trying to master a one-size-fits-all approach to web design that doesn’t exist, and hiking up their stress levels as a result.
Well, I am here to tell you that if you are constantly aiming for 100%, you are never going to hit your target. Your career as a UI/UX designer doesn’t have a manual with specific instructions on how to create an ideal user experience. All you can do is put forth your best guess, using the most logical principles and methods you have at your disposal.
The Concept of the Best Guess in UX Design
No one will teach you about the concept of the best guess in your HCI or UX design courses. It is a strategy that you have to learn from real-world experience, accept, and practice to fully comprehend.
There are many tools in the UI/UX design shed that will accomplish the same exact thing. Just like there are many applications available to smartphone users that provide the same service. Even in our daily lives we recognize that there are several solutions to any one problem.
If you don’t want to go to work today, you can go anyway, fake an illness, or use personal days. There is a big difference here between being confident and being presumptuous. You should be confident that you are producing the best product possible, given your expertise and your understanding of the client’s needs.
What you should not do is look at web development like a Rubik's Cube. Stop thinking to yourself: “If I work in a specific order, and all of the colors match up correctly, I will have solved the puzzle.” UI/UX design is not a combination lock that you can decipher, it is a skill that you develop over the lifespan of your career.
Humans Are Not Robots
Human-computer interaction takes place on a spectrum, not on a linear platform. In 2015, a single dress sparked a nationwide debate when its picture went viral on social media. Was the dress white and gold, or was it blue and black?
The point is that you can’t come up with an exact UI/UX design formula that will satisfy everyone’s needs. Your skills will be used to support a number of different businesses, and each product owner will ask you for something unique to their company.
What works for industry pros like Facebook might not be as practical for the needs of a government organization. Most of us are aware of what happens when a politician tweets to Twitter without any type of control mechanisms in place.
Humans will always interact with technology differently. Your goal as a UI/UX designer is to provide the most user-friendly experience as possible to the greatest number of people, while meeting the project's KPIs. Having a logical vision in your mind won’t always translate into an effective real-word application.
If you really want to create a product that is functional and flexible, you need to observe how users interact with it over an ample period of time.
Stop Complicating Your Life
I’ve made the case that becoming a web UX/UI designer isn’t rocket science. I didn’t do this undermine all of the hard work people have put into becoming an expert in this discipline. It remains true that someone with 7+ years of professional experience can be closer to that 100% success rate than a newcomer, even if they have a degree.
However, I do want to debunk the myth that you need a piece of paper to legitimize your talent in my field of work. That’s just not the case, and in my experience, the industry pros who tell you otherwise are just searching for their own sense of validation. And, by the way, I did get that piece of paper since I have BA Graphic Design in one of the best design universities in London.
I have broken the process down into three steps based on simple logic and reasoning. This is applicable to most scenarios:
- Observe how the users interact with your product
- Identify the problems that they have
- Implement new design solutions based on #2
You don’t need an HCI degree to become successful as an UX/UI designer. You can become a human factors expert through an ongoing process of observation and analysis.
Sure, the people who invested in higher education might have an intellectual advantage over someone who is self-taught. But that doesn’t mean that Aerospace engineers can’t be astronauts if they really put their mind to it.
Like all other disciplines, UX/UI is an acquired skill that can’t be mastered on the basis of models and theories. Web designers need to be prepared to try and fail on numerous occasions. Unless you are willing to accept and live by the concept of the best guess.
Then, failure is not an option – there is only the next best guess.
Your job as a UX/UI designer is to make the interaction between humans and computers as seamless as possible. There is no reason to put unnecessary weight on your shoulders throughout the process.
Identifying a problem and implementing a solution is second nature to us; we accomplish it through basic human conditioning. If we touch a hot stove as kids, we learn not to do it again.
If we get grounded for a month for sneaking out, chances are that we are going to find a different way out of the house next time. People browsing the web will learn to stay away from specific sites if they are bombarded with advertisements after clicking a link.
It is easy to understand this when you look at how much money web development companies pour into usability testing. Even at the expert level, major stakeholders understand that HCI and UX researchers are a part of one big science experiment.
Every day, technology provides mankind with new opportunities, like the ability to complete your college degree online. You can bring your product up to same standards as your well-funded counterparts if you do the simple tasks I assigned: observe, identify, and implement.
And remember, stop operating under the false assumption that there is an exact science to problem-solving, especially in the design world. Instead of setting goals for yourself that are impractical, you should adhere to existing standards that are probable.