How to Keep Up: Honest Thoughts of a UX Designer

By Laura Müller

The world is changing constantly. The internet gives us access to all the information we need (and don’t need). Every day I work on UX challenges. I read blog articles, books, new usability studies, follow my heroes, and watch tons of videos. If I am really honest, I feel overwhelmed sometimes and have the feeling I can’t keep up with all the change happening around me. My brain doesn’t seem to get half of the stuff that’s out there. This makes me really insecure sometimes.

Possible questions that keep me up at night:

  • What if I don’t get what’s next?
  • Will I be able to design for artificial intelligence?
  • Why are influencers so important? What is it they actually do, and why are brands so dependent on them?
  • Working remotely is not as much fun as being together in one room.
  • Am I old-school?

The list could go on and on.

Even though it seems sometimes (especially when I scroll through my LinkedIn feed) that there are people who have it all figured out, not all of us know what’s next, and insecurities make us challenge the status quo.

The moment you think you have it all figured out is the moment you are no longer good at your job as a UX designer.

But what does it really mean to give your best as a UX designer? Here’s what I do:

1. Find the underlying problem

Yes, there are many solutions out there. You can only find the best solutions if you know what the underlying problem is. This is also what I tell my clients if they want a new website and they show me websites they like. “Yes, those websites are well designed and function well, but what problem do they actually solve?” So before thinking about solutions, make sure you really understood the user’s problems. What jobs are the users trying to solve when using your product?

2a. You can’t know it all

Once you’ve figured out the problem, how can you find the best solution? In my whole career as a UX designer, I have never solved a problem alone.You don’t have to know everything. Instead, know the right people to talk to. A team of different experts can solve problems much better and faster. A humble attitude and an open mind help you build your network around people who try to solve problems instead of winning fights.

2b. Find the right people to work with

So how can you find the people who can actually help you? I have some criteria that differentiates a problem-solving colleague from a self-opinionated one:

  • They listen first
  • They ask questions and try to understand the whole picture
  • They challenge every idea, even their own
  • They think in skills and not in hierarchies
  • They like to try out something they have never done before
  • They send you relevant links or know somebody else you can talk to
  • They take notes
  • The atmosphere is always friendly and collaborative
  • Specialize
  • Pick out a topic that really interests you and try to become an expert in this field. That way you have at least one thing really figured out, and you can dive really deep into all the information out there without losing focus.

    _Laura Müller is UX Lead at MetaDesign Berlin.