The Pre-Design Process

As a UX Designer I have a lot of tools that I can use to aid me in my journey to solving a problem, crafting solid experiences and improving usability. The actions I take before I even “push a pixel” are super crucial. All processes can be loose, dynamic and on a per case basis.

Designing Blind

I’m living proof of designing blind. Some of the worst experiences in my career have been by products of designing without passion, empathy and a full understanding of the world I’m immersed in. If your team fully trusts your blind solutions the people you’re really designing for are in for a bad experience, or a good experience that was unintentional and not meant to be iterated upon and measured. Lets say the whole team is questioning your blind solutions now you have to “fight” on the grounds of not seeing the vision as a whole and you may lose important design battles which still impact the users again. With understanding another persons vision’s and reasonings comes becoming holistically empathetic and mission driven.

Empathy

Being empathetic drives me to stop designing for myself and to start designing for the person’s life I am trying to make easier. People have a lot to deal with already so lets try to design lasting experiences which aren’t against them. Separating my emotions and attachment (preferences) from the design before I even think about a button color or font size keeps me grounded throughout the entire design process.

ROI

There is a huge return for taking the time to do the hard stuff before diving into *insert favorite design tool here*. Whether we need to convince ourselves internally or get a buy in from stakeholders there’s value. I’ve found that a big enemy of a solid process is time. The time to do things right, the time to truly understand, research and dig deep. I understand that time is “money” and that we need to get to market but what If what we’ve left unpolished isn’t even good enough for the end user? None the less is this project really aligning with their mission or are we totally off track? I’d argue that an extra day of research can potentially save Designers, Developers, QA, PM, Management and most importantly the end user a solid headache or two.

Owning Your Process

Processes in my opinion should be a way but not the end of the road. One designer or teams process might not work best for the next and If It does currently work it may not stand the test of time. Starting somewhere tried and true is a start but don’t be afraid to experiment, cut the fluff, streamline, adopt and try again.

What It Means To Be A Designer Pt.2

As I continue down my path as a designer I fail, benchmark, grow, try new things and continue to push my internal envelope. As my track record, capabilities and thought process mature I love to share my experiences and findings no matter how obvious or elementary they are they can help someone.

Curiosity

Curiosity is one of the core reasons I’ve had the opportunity to participate and give back to many causes. I was always curious about how things functioned from musical pieces to BMX bike tricks, people, the environment economics, video games and my current passion for design. When It comes to design no one is going to deliberately give you answers. Your curiosity should drive you to ask questions and a portion of our job can be made easier when we ask the right questions.

Asking Questions (The Right Ones)

There have been multiple times in my design career where I was left frustrated because I wasn’t getting the right answers. The root of the problem was asking the right questions. Don’t ask “what do you think?”, ask if this solution accurately solves the problem. Not only does it solve the problem, but is it the best solution after we’ve exhausted all of our options. When the dust settles will it do as little disruption as possible to the good that was there previously.

Action

In my continuous journey of becoming the designer I aspire to be I realize that the same energy you always leave inspired with should be put into action. What good is learning and digesting great things in the world if you don’t do something to give back to the cause. The problem I ran into earlier in my career was the paralysis of making sure a situation is perfect before making a move. One step forward definitely holds more progressive weight than no steps anywhere. This year has been an interesting journey in terms of thought process and growth. Not only am I focusing on the right things but It’s also time to act upon my thoughts and learnings. That one thing that wasn’t said in the last meeting because of inaction could’ve changed things. Whether the change yielded positive or negative results we will never know.

Responsibility

As a designer I have a huge responsibility for what I release into the wild. One of my favorite talks aligning with my previous statement is Mike Monteiro’s “How Designers Destroyed the World”. Not only am I an advocate for my companies user base but I’m also responsible for what I let through the gates into the universe whether they are bad or good. The decisions I make can unknowingly touch millions of people directly or via domino effect.

Growth

Growth is addicting and lack of is discouraging. Ever half-year I do a progress check to make sure I’m on the right path and that I have my compass turned in the right direction. There’s nothing worse than internal complacency that directly affects external perception and efforts. As I continue to grow I hope that I can remember to share my knowledge to the amazing people after me just as those before me did.

Prototyping Tools

We are in a day and age of design where there are tons of prototyping tools to aid you in the communication of user experience and interaction design. Emailing comps frozen in time and space was never and isn’t enough anymore.

I spent the last couple of weeks doing some research and trying out prototyping tools that cater to interaction design and I stumbled upon Pixate and FramerJS. I’m going to go through my overall experiences of these tools and weigh in on my opinion of them.

Invision

Before Invision the team wasn’t dabbling into interactive prototyping at all. We would just email static comps back and forth for feedback and also present designs in a linear flow.

For us the benefits Invision provided were huge. I’ve used this tool to receive stakeholder and team feedback, specs and specific flows for developers to reference. Invision is great because it is easy to get started, it takes no code and has great sharing features. One issue I do have with Invision is that when it comes to motion and interactions there’s nothing that can be done (for now). So when I go to explain to a team member that “this element will fade and this element will slide from the top of the screen” they look at me like the madman I must be.

Pros
– Ease of use
– Sharing

Cons
– Lack of transitions

Pixate

Pixate was the first interactive prototyping platform I tried outside of the familiar world of Invision. I’d caught wind of it while watching a prototyping talk Lyft was having. The learning curve for it was mild and they give you a decent amount of help with their visual tutorials. For someone who has no background of development they will have an easy time with Pixate It just requires dragging + dropping and editing parameters.

Pros
– Ease of use
– Video exporting from application

Cons
– No asset import feature
– Low Quality video exports from mobile application

FramerJS

I have seen FramerJS around for a while but I just recently took it for a spin. Their desktop application is easy to use once you get familiar with their JS-like syntax. Their amazing exporting features won me over, just name your layers in PS or Sketch and go to town!

Pros
– Familiar to those who write Javascript
– Super easy asset importing
– Sharable project files

Cons
– Learning curve for people who don’t write code on a daily basis
– Code Redundancy (Unfortunately there’s no selector chaining in Framer which would drastically increase productivity and how much code you have to write. It would be cool if there were variables)

Conclusion

Based on some of the quirks and benefits I listed above I would consider InvisionApp or FramerJS to be a winner. Based on what level of detail you need to present in your prototype to stakeholders, your team and developers. I think Pixate would’ve been the strongest candidate if they had a solid asset import feature.