Leave Your Ego at the Door…if You Want to Become a Successful UX Designer


With my working days spent speaking to those seeking jobs as UX designers, and those who employ UX designers, I see trends in the traits that separate the UX superstars who are always in demand, from those who struggle to score their next gig. With the rise of immersive courses, some candidates are looking for a UX Designer role with little real-world experience, so what can they do to ensure they get the best jobs?

Keen to get constructive information for candidates, I asked for some expert advice from UX Hiring Managers, and those who work in UX every day. What is clear across the board is that to really make it in this industry, you must leave your ego at the door. Take pride in your work for sure, but don’t be so precious about your findings that you aren’t willing to tear it all up and start again.

Thomas Peterson, UX Consultant at Elabor8 told me he wants to work with people who can take criticism and work on it, who can challenge ideas and be welcome to having their ideas tested – “Your ideas are not unique special flowers borne of your own unique snowflake brain but rather a collaborative hive-mind which you have helped structure and direct.” He also advocates being open to feedback from all, whether that be colleagues, stakeholders, customers or even “your mate Dan.” Ensuring great user experiences is a collaborative endeavor. Designers shouldn’t assume they are the arbiter for all UX – “you are funded to primarily consider the UX and facilitate the delivery of customer value, however you are only one opinion in a room full of very smart and talented people – be open to ideas and opinions.”

UX is about trial and error, that great idea you had just may not work for the business. And that is what you are there for at the end of the day – to improve the company’s bottom line, even if that means admitting something doesn’t work and going back to the drawing board.

So are there specific personality traits which can make a person better or worse at UX? “True empathy with users is the key,” said Zef Fugaz, Head of CX Design at start-up builder Sleeves Up. He believes a good UX Designer can step outside of their own ‘bubble’ and see or experience the world from a customer’s perspective.

Design Director, Bernard Schokman wrote in one of his blogs that the number one “must have” quality of a UX Strategist or Designer is conscious awareness and intuition – “without that conscious awareness you are going through your day swimming in the effect rather than operating from the cause and seeing things from that conscious awareness. Without it, you’ll be tied to your own ego, ideas and designs rather than be open to the views and opinions of others. You won’t be happy to screw up your design and toss it in the bin when you discover something better. It’s as simple as that.”

Similarly, Yuan Wang, Creative Director at Yump, told me the best UX designers he has worked with always ask “why?” – “They question the status quo and everyone’s pre-conceived assumptions (including their own) at every stage and can step away from an idea to see it from multiple perspectives.”

In short, the best UX results require experimentation, fluidity, and collaboration. Successful designers understand the problem or business opportunity, are good at communicating their ideas but aren’t precious about them. They are able to look at the problem from multiple perspectives and consider the impact on the user at every turn. Rather than believing their own importance in the process, they put themselves in the user’s position and they are willing to collaborate with others to improve the overall user experience.

After reading his blog, I asked Schokman what guidance he would give to those starting out in this industry. His advice was “Never stop experimenting and learning. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been doing it for a month or 10 years, in today’s wireless environment we can discover what customers like and do not like (moving away from guessing and towards knowing) and then deliver that faster than ever before.”

What are your thoughts? Does anyone have anything else to add or experiences to share? Strongly agree or disagree? Either way, I’d like to hear what you think.

Also, if you are looking for your next move in UX or UI, or looking to hire great talent, get in touch with me on +613 3859 27816 or joanna.c@interpropeople.com. For more info about me, you can also check out my profile page on our website.

Joanna Corner
Consultant – Front End Development & Design

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