Want to brush up on UX design? We talk to some of the newest recruits from the Envato Design Team to get their top tips, advice and learnings.
The Envato UX Design team has a culture of open communication and reflection, to ensure we adapt and evolve our processes and skills to the ever changing needs of our users and the broader creative industry.
My main area improvement was feedback. I have gotten more comfortable with sharing my work earlier and often with others in the team. I’ve also gotten better at planning my feedback and critique sessions to ensure that I’m receiving the right kind of feedback for the stage of the design process.
When feedback sessions are unstructured, it can be easy for the participants to lose focus or not understand the real problem, which leaves you unclear of the next steps to take to make progress. I have learned that by structuring design sessions by articulating the context and the problem you’re trying to solve, as well as acknowledging which parts of the design you want advice on, you can give your audience more guidance. This has improved the quality and relevancy of the feedback I’ve received.
An effective user experience isn’t created by one person. Ideas are iterated on; being able to harness the opinions, problem solving skills and ideas of a collective group can ensure that the design and experience stands the test.
Navigating ambiguity in design strategy. It’s easy to not pay enough attention to properly articulating the user goals and problems we are trying to solve. I have found that if we don’t spend enough time working on this in the beginning, it can be detrimental to the following stages of the design process.
I am learning to better articulate my thinking as well as how to use previous research to support my current projects. I’m focusing on shaping my hypotheses as well as working with our Analytics team to ensure we’re measuring results that will either prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Remain passionate, keep reiterating and reflecting. Growth in UX design comes from constantly evaluating, e.g. “how would I do this better next time?”, “What can I improve?”, and “What did I learn from this project?”
My role is made up almost entirely of research, so it was nice to be able to branch out a bit and start picking up some UX design skills. I’ve been helping with designs on several projects recently and it’s been a great way to visually translate my research ideas into something really tangible.
After building the case using research from users and industry best practice, we finally managed to implement a genre/mood block on the AudioJungle categories page. It achieved such massive success in conversion that it blew the rest of the category changes we were making out of the water. It was a really proud moment for the design team because we went through the process, suggested a change, finally got it implemented, and it worked so well.
No one wants to hear about your research. What I mean by that, is they don’t want to hear about your long method and every single insight you found. They want to hear about outcomes, overarching themes, and most importantly why it matters to the project.
Most stakeholders won’t understand the research method and any jargon involved, so keep your information level appropriately high for the stakeholder and make it relevant to them and their role. Your stakeholders are just another user group, so learn what drives them.
I’m constantly finding new ways to better support my design peers and my team. I’m also strengthening my story-telling skills to grow as a design leader. A good story can help align, persuade and get people excited to solve a problem or get behind a vision. I’m learning to be more specific with the audience so that I can better tailor my story and make sure there’s something they can tangibly hold on to.
Learning will be continuous, so take your time, trust in your own abilities and seek to understand other points of view. Aside from that, find what motivates you and what you value in your work.
I’ve improved making sense of my research findings, setting aside my bias and focusing on the patterns.
I’m refining the skill of communication and influence at the moment. I’m figuring out the best techniques for my stakeholders, what works for my immediate team and what works for the wider group. This includes my approach to driving the importance of our user needs and how I can influence decision making.
I’d say some of the biggest skills I’ve picked up in my first year are more soft skills than technical. A lot of what I’m designing touches different areas of the business, and so a lot of the time I find myself managing feedback from different stakeholders and making sure the team is aligned on the problem space.
The next big skill I’d say I have developed is around communication and facilitation. It’s one thing to have an amazing design or idea, but it’s another thing to be able to communicate the value to others, get people on board and get the outcome you need from a meeting or workshop. It definitely takes practice, and it’s something I’m always constantly working on.
At the moment, I’m focusing on broadening my knowledge and experience with different UX tools and methods. For instance, in my team we’re currently working in a ‘rapid experimentation’ approach, where we test and iterate on small ideas quickly. Each idea has its own hypothesis to test, and so I’m also learning more about hypothesis driven development. It’s a new way of working to what I’m used to, but reading different books and articles definitely helps with that. I’m being exposed to new methods and approaches to try in my own work.
One of the first initiatives I worked on was introducing a Students plan to Envato Elements. As part of the user research that we did, we conducted a focus group with students at a local creative college. It was the first time that I’d ventured out of the Envato office for research since starting at the company, and I remember it being a really refreshing experience to be able to speak directly with students and get their thoughts first-hand. There’s something really valuable for designers about leaving the office and being in the same environment as your users!
UX is a broad field, so don’t be disheartened if you feel you don’t know everything straight away. Embrace the fact that you won’t know everything straight away. The best thing is to be open-minded and curious – observe how other designers work and approach different problems, and never be afraid to ask questions. Try something new! If it doesn’t work, try something else. To become a better designer, I feel it’s more important to hone soft skills than just the technical skills, and that only comes with experience and practice.