User Experience Belongs to Everybody
“Everybody thinks they’re a designer,” is a phrase I hear time to time from frustrated designer friends. I’m personally guilty of using this phrase myself, likening design recommendations from non-designers to me being in charge of database design (spoiler: that would actually be bad). But lately, it has occurred to me that the user experience of a product actually doesn’t and shouldn’t belong solely to the designer.
In fact, it can’t.
On the design side, we stress about user flows, informational and visual hierarchies and making sure our copy is crisp and clear. But what about making our pages load lightning fast so no one is sitting staring at a spinner? What about making our on-site search come back with the best, most relevant results? Or writing blog posts that our users find meaningful and engaging? Or answering a support email with more than just a copy-and-pasted paragraph? Together, we all make a million tiny design decisions that impact how our users see and interact with our products.
To think about the user experience holistically means thinking about your contributions that way. Maybe reworking an ancient feature is difficult from a code standpoint, regardless of the simplicity of the new solution. Maybe redesigning an internal tool to just be clean and obvious and useful isn’t the sexiest design work. It would be easier to compromise and ship something that is just barely good enough, fast enough or clear enough. We’re told time and again to ship early, ship often. But shipping small and fast does not mean shipping half-baked, incomplete, compromised. It means shipping the smallest, best iterations to get to where you want to go.
And that requires all of us. It means doing a bit of extra work to make sure your page loads are fast, that animations are quick and smooth, that the flow is sensible, line-height is just right and your feature announcements are awesome. It means everyone sweating the details of their piece of the user experience. Because that’s the only way - together - that we can make our products awesome.