UX Mantras

I was reminded recently that some years ago, over the course of a couple of months, I tweeted a daily “UX Mantra”. They’re now buried somewhere in the depths of Twitter, but as I still have my original notes, I decided to put them here for future reference. Some are probably a bit ‘of their time’, but I think most remain relevant. Make of them what you will. As always, take anything that’s useful, ignore anything that’s not.

  • There’s good design & there’s bad design. End of. It’s all about fitness for purpose #flat #responsive #nextbuzzwordhere
  • User-centered design is a tautology. If you’re not thinking about the user you’re doing art, not design.
  • Design is not a democracy. JFDI.
  • Design is objective. Art is subjective. Are you a designer or an artist?
  • Design like you’re right. Test like you’re wrong.
  • Interviews are conversations. Have a script but don’t be a slave to it. Go with the flow.
  • Pay attention to body language when doing user research. Theirs and yours.
  • “A camel is a horse designed by committee” – Alec Issigonis
  • Engage, collaborate, co-create. But don’t design the camel.
  • Take ownership, champion the vision. It’s your responsibility.
  • Make the decision.
  • Forget the job title, it’s all about the role – what you do not what you call it.
  • Study some philosophy. Look up #TruthTables.
  • Don’t design for everyone. Design for someone.
  • Easy to use does not have to mean no learning curve.
  • Function follows form follows function.
  • Users are not designers.
  • Study some psychology. Look up #MentalModels.
  • UX = Product Design.
  • UX is a mindset, not a line in the project plan.
  • Mistakes are good. Learn from failure. Just don’t make the same mistake twice.
  • #LeanUX does not remove the need for design leadership.
  • #LeanUX does not absolve us of our responsibilities as designers.
  • #LeanUX is not a substitute for good design resource.
  • Write real copy.
  • Always proofread carefully in case you any words.
  • Someone still has to define and champion the vision #LeanUX
  • UX isn’t just for UXers.
  • Study some General Semantics. Look up Alfred Korzybski.
  • Check your assumptions.
  • Benefits not features.
  • Content first.
  • Speed is fine so long as you’re pointing in the right direction. And there isn’t a brick wall in front of you.
  • When building a team, it’s the people, not the roles, that count.
  • Learn some code: know your materials.
  • Customers buy solutions not features.
  • “The map is not the territory” – Korzybski
  • The risk in focussing on speed is that you lose sight of the destination.
  • Design is not a single-player game.
  • People don’t pay for content. They pay for time and convenience.
  • Learn about metadata.
  • Study philosophy. It promotes clear thinking, awareness of other perspectives, how to make a strong argument.
  • Study psychology. It promotes empathy, understanding of people and behaviour.
  • Creating artifacts need not take long. It’s the thinking that takes the time.
  • Working fast does not mean doing sloppy work. Pay attention to detail.
  • What’s the value exchange?
  • Get away from your desk.
  • Don’t be a slave to the methodology.
  • Disagreement is healthy.
  • There will always be a need for some level of documentation.
  • Justify your design decisions. Explain your rationale. Sell your ideas.
  • UX is 20% design, 80% consulting, researching, analysing, presenting, lobbying…
  • Cross-functional teams are good. Teams of cross-functional people are better.
  • You are not the user.
  • Do not base your navigation on your organisation’s internal view of itself #WebDesign101
  • Allow yourself to be challenged.
  • Play devil’s advocate.
  • Your org chart is rarely a good starting point for your web site #WebDesign101 #StillGoingOnEvenNow
  • Read some architecture books.
  • Terms you use internally may not mean anything to your users.
  • Learn some code: it promotes logical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Get out of the silo.
  • Users are good. Customers are better.
  • Good UX needs a combination of creative and technical thinking skills. Art+Science, Design+Build.
  • Design is about problem-solving. Art does not need a reason.
  • Admit your mistakes. Move on.
  • Leave your ego at the door.

About Jon

I've been working in the interactive media industry since 1995. I'm a problem-solver with a multi-disciplinary skill set. I work on a freelance / contract basis. I help clients create great digital products.

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