Facilitating Collaboration Between Visual Designers and Other UX Roles

Facilitating Collaboration Between Visual Designers and Other UX Roles

In some organizations, “User Experience” is a treated differently from “Visual Design” (or “Creative”) and there is a distinct separation between the teams.  In others, Visual Designers are an integrated part of the User Experience team.  Regardless of team structure, however, there is often a pattern of UX deliverables such as wireframes or basic prototypes being handed off to Visual Designers to “skin,” or as some unfortunately call it, “make things pretty,” with little or no further involvement from the rest of the UX team.

There are some common problems with this approach:

  • Information Architects and Interaction Designers feel they lose influence over the design process once it’s in the hands of a Visual Designer
  • Visual Designers don’t feel they are involved early enough in the process to understand design inputs or to influence what goes into a given design
  • There’s an inherent disconnect between the knowledge that went into wireframes/prototypes and what is translated over to the Visual Designer
  • Design decisions are often seen as subjective as opposed to grounded in research and analysis

There are several techniques that members of the “big D” Design team (including all UX roles/responsibilities) can use to better collaborate to make sure the end design best represents an optimal user experience and is grounded in input from the entire team.

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The best design solutions solve a problem in an elegant and engaging way

“The thing that excites me most about design is the act of creating a great, tangible solution where there was just a blank whiteboard or list of vague requirements before. When I can look at a solution and think, yes, this solves the problem, it’s elegant, it’s engaging… that’s the reward.” – Kim Goodwin

This quote is from Kim’s interview with Kicker Studio entitled “Six Questions from Kicker: Kim Goodwin.”

Mental Notes: A Must-Have Addition to Your UX Toolkit

Psychology and User Experience Design are by nature highly intertwined fields.  In order to effectively design for our users we must understand their behaviors and motivations, which is something Psychologists have been studying for far longer than User Experience professionals.  However, how often when we design for certain user experiences do we mindfully consider psychological factors that may contribute to how users interact with our designs? We may think in terms of tasks, or the best way of communicating a message in an easily understandable manner.  We may consider high level motivations for using a product, but not necessarily what motivates people at a more micro level.  Since Psychology focuses on the study of behavior, and UX focuses on changing/influencing behavior, we would benefit from developing a closer connection between the two fields and incorporating psychological concepts into our design thinking.

A new product has been launched that helps us do just that – think about how to merge psychology and design.

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Design is a reflective practice between the designer and her design materials

“As designers, we think through doing. Design is a reflective practice between the designer and her design materials. When you sketch something and commit it to paper, it moves from being an abstract thought to something that is more concrete and real. Perceiving this concreteness, in turn, influences your thinking, leading to new questions that spawn new ideas… It is the act of creating these design artifacts, rather than the artifacts themselves, that is the most valuable aspect of the design process.” – Dane Petersen

This quote is from Dane’s Adaptive Path blog article “Entering a design project mid-stream? Sometimes, you just paddle.”

In the end, simplicity for its own sake should not be the goal

“In the end, simplicity for its own sake should not be the goal. Balancing the amount of complexity that we engage with is something that UX people deal with on a daily basis. A good experience should be the result of using UX design to find what is meaningful to that end user and present it in the best way possible.” – Francisco Inchauste

Read more in Francisco’s article “The Dirtiest Word in UX: Complexity.”

Challenging Conventional Assumptions About User Experience Design

Challenging Conventional Assumptions About User Experience Design

A common misconception that many organizations have about User Experience Designers is that our value comes solely in the form of our design artifacts or research deliverables.  Many see UX as a step in the process where we create wireframes, conduct usability testing, build prototypes, or make site maps.  Often we do this after being handed business requirements, and then we hand off our solutions to a visual designer or developer to complete the process. While all of these activities and artifacts are certainly a large part of our work, we need to challenge our organizations to think of us as more than the sum of our deliverables.

This article explores the way in which UX Designers can provide an increased level of thought leadership within organizations.

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