A common challenge many creative professionals face is working effectively with clients and stakeholders. When your goals, expectations, or vision aren’t aligned, it is difficult to create work everyone is happy with. In these tricky situations, your communication skills are critical. By actively listening and repeating back what you hear, you can identify confusion or misunderstanding early. Asking questions plays a big part in creating a shared understanding of what needs to be designed. I’ve found that reviewing reference examples with a client before I start my design work can help set me on the right path to meet their design aesthetic. In professional settings, some UX designers feel like they have to compromise their creative expression to satisfy the clients–and it’s true, this can happen. Many clients don’t know what they want until they see what they don’t want. Ultimately, it comes down to the relationship-building skills of trust and mutual respect to achieve the outcome everyone is hoping for.
There are several career paths and disciplines for UX designers to pursue. I could take on freelance contracts and be my own boss. I could stay in my current space as a UX Generalist. Or, I could specialize and become an expert in a specific area of the user experience, like research. Here are a few examples titles of those who specialized: UX Researcher, Product Designer, Interaction Designer, Motion Designer, Information Architect, and even Human-Computer Interaction (HCI.) There is a lot of room for growth in the UX industry. It’s a very exciting place to be.
I’m always looking for opportunities to grow as a designer. One of the ways I do this is by attending UX meetups. These are events organized by other UX and Product professionals who have knowledge to share. They’re not afraid to share their knowledge and experience to help others succeed. This is one of my favorite things about working in design, it really is a community. Meet up topics can vary wildly, so it is a great way to get exposure to other ideas. The most recent meetup I attended was about data visualization and how people understand data.
As technology evolves the number of UX problems to solve is growing exponentially. The new abilities of technology are opening design opportunities faster than ever before. New mobile devices are released almost every month from various brands. Wearable devices provide the ability to make things easier and more accessible for users on the go. Smart home devices and digital assistants are widely adopted but still need more human-centered design to live up to our needs and expectations. Even self-driving cars will need significant user experience design! If solving these problems interests you, check out UX blogs like Usability Geek, browse usability guidelines such as Google's Material Design and Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, or search for a UX meetup near you.