A day in the life of a UX designer

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In this week’s Writer’s Room – a regular blog series of articles and tutorials written by technologists from within our Andela Community – Carlos Tay takes us through a day in the life of a UX designer!

AM to PM: A day in the life of a UX designer

As UX designers, on a daily basis, we tend to analyze and try to develop a better way of doing things. Why? Because this is an active way for us to continue growing our knowledge and our creative capacity to provide better solutions each time we deliver a creative process.

AM: To-dos, sprint planning, meetings, and Sketch

5 am: I usually get up this early to plan my day ahead, so it can be a thought-provoking experience. Why would you go ahead and tackle your day as if you’re a robot, just waiting to complete tasks? It just doesn´t make sense in a UX designer’s head. Usually, you’re looking to improve everything and innovate everywhere. Then on my way to the gym, I try to analyze the tasks for the day and run a little sprint in my head on how to make those tasks more meaningful for the team so they are motivated.

7 am: My workday begins. As a team, we go through the current sprint and discuss what’s happening in the next sprint. As a designer, I need to have everything prepared for the week ahead so that the developers can do their job successfully. That’s my challenge at the moment — it’s hectic, trying to get designs approved! Then once the designs are approved, I need to adapt them to two different platforms, as we’re designing for Android and iOS simultaneously.

11am: At this time of the morning, I have a daily meeting with the development team. This gives both teams guidelines on how to improve and provide a better performance for the solution presented. It also involves the stakeholder’s points of view, where they express what they’re looking for so we can achieve the goals they have set up.

11.30am: So, after the daily meeting, I look at what I need to do next. At the moment, I’m working in Sketch, iterating on designs and pushing pixels. I’m a product designer, so my role combines both UX and UI design. I wasn’t aware of this before I took the role, but it’s really cool because I get to practice a bit of everything. The same goes for collaborating with the developers; you don’t get that in every job, and I think this is such a valuable experience.

1pm: Lunchtime! I also try to make this task more meaningful, being creative about what type of dish I will cook (if I have time to do it). If not; I’ll decide what type of food will work best for me for the rest of the day to keep me active but not make me bloated and sluggish. Why? This is an important experience as well for me to work through the day-to-day tasks. Food fuels my work!

PM: Concepting, presentations, feedback, and iteration

2pm: I spend a lot of time in and out of the telephone booth speaking with the client. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have a concept and alignment meeting with the client. We show them new designs that we’ve created, walking them through ideas via screen sharing. We also have to come prepared to talk about why we made certain design decisions. The client will be direct and either say “Hey, I don’t like it” or “Oh, I love this!” Then they’ll most likely ask if we can change things — the design is never final! So we continuously iterate based on client and user feedback. Keeping a user-centric mindset while designing here is key.

4pm: We hold a short presentation to align on current tasks and programs, what we’ve worked on in the past week, what challenges we faced, what we learned, and any articles we’ve read — it’s all about sharing our designs, getting feedback and avoiding any lapse in communication. It’s important that we stay connected to the design team no matter where they are.

6pm: Wrapping up! By 6pm, I’m ready to start winding down. At the end of the day, I’ll look at what’s happening tomorrow and write down my to-do list for the next day. I know lots of people write their to-do list first thing in the morning, but I’ve learned that it’s much less stressful if you just offload your list before you leave work. When I get in the next day, I know exactly what I need to do.

A typical day for a UX designer is…

I work at a digital agency, which means a wide range of clients — from automotive to insurance, fashion, and retail. At the moment I’m working on an app for housing appliances. I’m one of two designers working on this project, and I’m responsible for developing the product, i.e. research, concepts, design, prototyping, and testing.

Creative, but systematic
A large part of my role is about developing new concepts. To come up with a new concept, we discuss things together as a team. We look at the insights we’ve gathered from user research to find possible solutions for the product while keeping business goals and user needs in our minds. Since we’re designing something that isn’t the only product for the company, we have to look at existing products to see what kind of styles they use. We have to adapt to that, so while it’s creative, we do have a system that we need to follow.

Clients and product owners
I collaborate with the product owners, as well as with the client. We have a proxy product owner here on our side, and we have a product owner on the client side. It’s all about communicating and getting my designs approved, getting user stories from the product owners, and designing in line with their requirements.

In my role as UX designer, I also work closely with the developers. This was very intimidating at first, but I really value this experience. When I look at different jobs on the market right now, many require this collaboration with developers. I’m responsible for designing something that the developers can build, based on a ticket system. Each ticket has a user story and each user story describes what the developers have to do, and this includes providing visual guidance to show them what the screen should look like and how the elements on the screen should behave. The developers use Zeplin to export all designs and download assets. This is a super important tool for collaboration and documentation! Sometimes, as a designer, you miss something and it’s only brought to your attention during the QA phase. I learn new things every day!

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