5 Lessons I Learned Working in The Real World of UX

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Highlight ‘real world of UX’.

You know when someone asks you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” — well, a couple of years ago, I would say “A UI/UX Designer”. I‘ve never regretted my answer.

It’s been about 2 years since I started my first real UI/UX Design job, and I wanted to wrap up my 2 year Anniversary of finding my passion by jotting down what I’ve learned so far — working with various teams, PMs, engineers, case studies, UX challenges, flows.. and more.

I learned to become a better storyteller.

Assumption: UI/UX is just design, design, and design.
Well, I thought wrong. Communication (and being an effective one!) is so important. Part of a UX Designer’s job is to convey ideas, explain how they went about solving a problem, and why they did it.

It wasn’t the easiest thing for me personally, because I get so nervous when speaking in public, or even articulating my opinions. I’m happy to say that I’ve improved so much over the past months due to the numerous critique and presentations I’ve given.

I am NOT the user. Period.

Assumption: If I understand, then the users would... right?
Nope (I thought so, too.) I learned it the hard way. During a presentation with a client a while back, I assumed they would understand that an Android icon means that it’s clickable and will lead to the download page. Unfortunately, they didn't — we ended up having to add a frame around it to make it more so a button.

They weren’t in the wrong. I was glad that through situations like this, I realize that I’m not the one that I’m solving the problem for. It’s the users. Target Users. Target Market.

Empathy goes a long way.

Empathy is the ability to understand and feel the emotions of others. I’ve always known that empathy is an important aspect to have when becoming a UI/UX designer. But to this day, the feeling of Empathy has taken me to another level of design.

Understanding users to another level. Connecting with them. Learning the users’ struggles. Listening to what they have to say. Remember their problems, and finally, respond to all of this.

Always come back to the problem.

Many times, I get too caught up with the solution that I overlook the original problem. Straying away and working to better the solution is usually what happens, instead of coming back to the problem and asking myself, “does this really solve the problem?”

Sometimes a simpler outcome will benefit more compared to an extensive but questionable outcome. Sometimes a simple “we have to enlarge the arrow” instead of “we have to make 2 additional flows and 10 additional screens!” will be more beneficial.

Having a really clear and focused mind when coming into the design space is very important to me, as well as holding onto target users, problem statements, and personas.

Constraints are there, and it’s okay not to meet your own expectations.

I’m my own enemy. I’m my worst enemy. Most of the time, I set my own expectations too high, because I know I can do better.

However, the reality is that this world has many unavoidable constraints. The same goes for gigs, projects, jobs, and so on. There will be time constraints, technical or even resource constraints. I learned to accept and understand the limitations, adapt to the current situation, and work with it.

In conclusion

I’m nowhere near done with where I wanna take my career and passion. It’s amazing how time flies, and how much I’ve learned more than so-called design skills.

There are many other things I’ve learned in addition to these 5, but I thought these were pretty eye-opening. Hey, that is the joy of being a designer; we never stop learning!

portfolio: elainelumanauw.com

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UI/UX Designer

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Elaine Lumanauw

Elaine Lumanauw

UI/UX Designer

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