Healthy communication and flexibility are a main focus for me during the production process. It can help reduce conflict, build trust and maintain relationships within the team and company.
Explaining design choices matter. This let's your team know that all of the requirements have been met, that everything that was requested has been included, and that you have thought deeply about the use cases that a user may encounter. Design may seem to many subjective but there are actually many rules that serve to ensure readability, functionality and trust in a product's experience. When given the reasons, you're not only calming any concerns your team has with a decision but you are also educating them to make better decisions themselves in the future.
Nothing is more satisfying than orchestrating a large project efficiently. Understanding the problem we are trying to solve, building the proper buy-in, collecting data and the exploration phase can keep the finish smooth. I have found that over time, the way that you document and communicate reduce most pain points associated with agile.
Not everybody works the same and that's a good thing. Recognizing the natural gifts and strengths of your teammates is useful if you want to optimize the performance of the group, raise individual motivation and increase morale. People tend to work harder and better when they are recognized and utilized. It's not that difficult either. All it takes is paying a little bit of attention. Once I realize people are proficient at a certain task, I like to regularly comment on what it is that I like and match related tasks as best as possible.
Though it can take up a lot of time to do it right, testing can help you find the best answer quickly while avoiding costly mistakes. Like they say, cheap is expensive. The types of tests and appropriate times to use them come second nature as I've worked along-side devs and product in data driven companies for over a decade. User experience designers add a special layer of testable concerns that protect and guide the user from point a to b. I regularly a/b different concepts, use heat maps to see how far people are scrolling or what they're clicking on, send out surveys or run video interviews to get qualitative feedback, or simply construct and analyze data to see drop-offs, retention and engagement.
If you hire right, people do their best work when trusted to perform. Ownership is a powerful incentive not only to produce great results but to also to help clarify purpose. This can make a person happier to come to work each day and feel more satisfied at the end of the process. When moving through sprints, I try to find ways to assign tasks in a way where members on the team are free to do their jobs before we have to pull in the reigns.
Proper communication ensures that the entire team is aware of the status of the project at all times. It helps keep you on top of any work-related concerns that teammates might have so that they can be resolved before becoming damaging. How I maintain proper communications is by enforcing a collaborative process that gives the right people the ability to give input at the right moments. This means having key stakeholders from product and engineering present at the initial sketch sessions or keeping all resource materials accessibly to everyone involved. If something changes, I prefer to walk over and let them know. It's also important to stop and listen so that you can understand concerns that come up. In general people mean a lot to me and I will go out of my way to see them outside of the office as well.
A main focus at this stage of my career is helping junior talent move forward in any way that I can. Even during critiques, there are valuable learning opportunities. I will rarely vocalize a concern without explaining the UX principle behind the concern. Another important aspect that designers don't necessarily focus on is the presentation of your progress. Productizing the presentation, explaining first the problems and how the design solves for them is key in helping your audience understand how you got there. This helps your non-design team members understand your decisions and ultimately trust you down the road.
At the end of the day, I think it's more important that people want to work with you than to be right. How I manage that is that I try to be flexible when someone has a concern, even if I don't agree. For example, if someone asks for a particular layout that I already know is going to have problems, and voicing these concerns hasn't convinced them, then it's time to stop talking. I will often mock up what they've asked for and then also design what I think would be a better solution. If I can't win there, then I may insist on a/b testing to carry out the rest of the conversation. It forces me to be better at communicating and at testing the right things to voice my concern. I also realize that people may offer solutions but what they really are doing is citing symptoms. It's my job to figure out how to come up with solutions that we can all be satisfied with.
Collaboration ensures that as many important viewpoints are taken into account before trying to solve the problem. A person from sales might understand what might move the needle from the way that they sell it. Even within the design team, working together can take the collective strengths of each individual and lend it to the final result. The way I make sure it happens is by inviting stakeholders to sketch sessions. Within a design team, I encourage the passing of layered assets from one designer to another with the instruction of "make it better". I also create public places that designs can be seen for review to a larger audience. It's a fun process where everybody gets to be involved and feel like they've had a hand in the end output.
I keep a positive attitude. I'm appreciative for what I have and enjoy solving problems that come along the way. I have a lot of energy with a constant stream of ideas to manage. I try to stay mindful and active. I run four miles a day to stay healthy and keep my mind clear. I have two side projects that I'm very proud of. Staying productive and busy keeps me happy. I want to build things, I want to make sense of patterns and utilize them to create products that bring delight. I want to become better at more things and I want to help those around me just as others have helped me in the past. In the end, I think being focused, motivated, present and ready to work is impactful to influencing office culture in a positive way.