Finding the balance between method and fun – a new UXer’s path

Coming from a purely fashion-oriented graphic design background, last January I found myself in a completely new and challenging world: Designing user experiences for a software company. Of course, I was scared and kind of lost – actually, I still am – but the journey thus far has been amazing and eye opening. I hope that I can tell you a bit about it so you can maybe find yourself saying “Hey, that sounds like something I’d like!”

What is it that we do?

This is probably a question that UX Designers (UXers for short) find ourselves answering a lot. And it’s followed by a confused “Wait, what?” more times than we’d like to admit. There is a myriad definitions floating around on what it is that UX designers do, but I personally find that the one that suits me the most is that we advocate for user needs in products and propose solutions accordingly.

Wrapping my head around this concept was extremely hard at first. As many graphic designers, I was trained under the notion that designers hold the truth, and UX came to turn this whole idea around: the focus is on the user, and listening to what they need is crucial to the game.

From my personal experience, I can say that Avature has been an incredibly nurturing environment in this regard, allowing me to devote time and resources to user research and honestly having fun while doing it.

Working as a unit

While we do a lot of research (and act on it) as individuals in our day-to-day work, we wouldn’t get far by ourselves. A huge turning point from my previous experiences that I found here is that we build our work on that of our teammates, and they do the same on ours. We are a very diverse team, with some members more oriented to research, others to the creation of design systems, others to project management, and so on. And I feel it’s because of this diversity that we can excel at our particular interests: We can rest assured that there will always be someone with expertise on the topics that we lack. Working like this, we create a cycle of constant feedback in which everyone’s findings and efforts fuel everyone else’s.

Delight in the mundane

If there was one key takeaway from my experience migrating from graphic design to this particular UX design team, is how amazed we are by the most trivial details. We can spend literal hours debating about a particular button, with research papers suddenly showing up out of nowhere and educated views on super specific subjects. There still hasn’t been one discussion I’ve been part of where someone hadn’t read an article about the topic or came back a couple days later with a whole research piece on it. There is literally at least one article for everything, and, apparently, we love to scrub websites and books for that tiny piece of info that will shine a light on our problems or, even better, start a whole new conversation.

Which brings me to my conclusion: In the world of UX, one always builds with others, be it your team, the users, or the research community. Coming back to my initial question, “What is it that we do?”

Well, UX isn’t a task we do, it’s a community we build.