UX skills, much like any other disciple, need to be constantly used and updated to stay relevant in an ever changing environment. UX designers, both old hats and beginners have a lot to gain by forming habits that help them to hone their skills just a little each day, to make sure that they never lose their edge.
We talked to our team, and would like to bring to you a few habits that we think helps our team to maintain their keen edge!
Expand your horizons
Don't try to focus solely on UX to the detriment of every other related field. It's helpful to have a basic idea of other related fields like different business verticals your projects are based in, or a dabbling in psychology and communication. This knowledge can not only help you to conduct more meaningful research, and empathise with users, but also to create designs that resonate better with your end users.
It's also great to be able to have valuable contributions to other parts of the project during meetings!
Don't rely on memory
Now, it's easy to remember things as soon as they've been spoken, make the connections in your head, and be like "Put the notes away, I got this!". But invariably, other things keep happening throughout the day. Those memories that were fresh and clear after the morning briefing, have become as stale as that cup of coffee you forgot on the table.
Document everything! We can't stress this enough. Document it online. In a cloud service that you can access from anywhere and won't crash like your hard disk in 2010.
As a UX designer you may sometimes feel that your knowledge is enough to make decisions based on limited information. Here's the thing though, end users have so much going on that you really don't have a clue about (see our first suggestion). Rather than go off and try to create something on the fly, make sure you clarify what the user is trying to do, and understand their requirements properly. Better to err on the side of caution, after all.
Never stop learning
This one goes hand in hand with expanding your horizons. Never allow yourself to grow tired of learning. Understand from your first year as a UX designer, if you are getting bored reading and learning new things about UX, then you are in the wrong field and need to git immediately and find where your passions lie. Talk to friends and colleagues, and seniors in UX, ask them where you can find some of the best blogs and articles, and maybe even some older books that show you where things began. Keep growing!
Never be afraid of criticism. You may be the most talented UX designer of your generation, but there is always something more you can learn or improve. Never discount feedback, no matter who gives it, take it with an open mind and consider how it can affect your design. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from.
Be free with your knowledge. Take the time to share what you know with others. This not only helps to grow the community, but teaching and sharing is one of the best ways of cementing knowledge in your own mind.
Now this might sound obvious, but look at everything with new eyes. Whether in real life, or when using apps and products, look at them, see what can be improved, or what ideas you can garner. Everything in life can be a learning experience for you... well, nearly everything.
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Being a UX designer is a fun and challenging job, one that requires constant attention to improve your skills. Creating daily habits that help you to improve little by little each day, ensures that you never lose touch of what's happening in your field, while constantly growing and helping others to grow along with you!