Leadership Insights for User Experience Designers

By: Fiona Lee

"User experience has caught on so much, both as something that people enjoy doing and something that is more and more widely recognized as being valuable to a growing number of companies," Louisa Armbrust, User Experience Designer

When it comes to experiencing digital products, user experience (UX) has become an increasingly in-demand skill in recent years. A user experience designer spends a lot of the day thinking about how a person interacts with digital products, such as websites. It might be about rearranging buttons on a webpage or changing the way someone interacts with an online educational tool. While designing and improving the webpage to improve the user’s experience, the designer also has to create a design requested by your stakeholder or client. Often times, it can be difficult to create the “perfect” design that stakeholders want because of the differences in knowledge and principles. A designer commonly encounters situations where stakeholders want certain features or have requirements that contradict usability principles and are detrimental to the overall user experience.

It is crucial to have strong leadership and communication skills. Listening intently to understand the needs and wants of the stakeholder is very important. By being able to empathize with them and incorporate their interests into the design without sabotaging usability principles is the goal. In the process, the designer must ask questions, listen, and show concern. Having the ability to put yourself in their shoes and understand where they are coming from while explaining the benefits and drawbacks of the features allows you to acknowledge their needs and bring them closer to the solution.

As a designer and a leader, you must have a positive outlook, but also a realistic strategy, when dealing with problems. Especially, since there is always some gray area in UX design. Attitude makes all the difference.

In the interconnected world, both designers and leaders are always sharing their ideas as well as learning from others. Leadership is a give and take relationship. It’s impossible to work alone and be successful. Being yourself and understanding that everyone you work with is also human with their own needs and aspirations are the keys to being a successful leader and designer.

Are your experiences similar? Different? Can you add some insights? Please submit to the PSMblog your thoughts, comments and experiences. psmblog@docs.rutgers.edu