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5 Things Not Taught In Design School

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Welcome to the real world. All the theory and design principles in school flooded our central nervous system and formed core memories to take into the workplace. However, when our right brain was called on to do a project…our creativity was bombarded with needs from the program managers, primary stakeholders, and finally the customers.

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The end-users ultimately decide the success of the project. 

All the hopes and dreams of our design (and everyone’s input) are put in the end-users hands, eyes, and judgment. And if they don’t enjoy it, the first person to blame is the designer…

University didn’t prepare us for this, this lesson was best served to us in the school of Hard Knocks. 

Here are the 5 Things not taught to us at Design School:

Managing and building a relationship with stakeholders.

Soft skills is a class taught in the school of Life— not in university. In every relationship, there’s this delicate balance of fostering a relationship with stakeholders so they can trust you, but at the same time, you can give pushback on decisions that could be harmful to the end result. 

When it comes to design, everyone has an opinion.

As creatives, we have the vision to carry out the task assigned. But everyone, no matter what discipline they are in, has feedback. Sometimes that feedback is constructive and usable to put into the design.  Other times, that feedback is simply “I don’t like it” and we have to peel deeper into that answer to make it useful information for that specific design. 

Design is our first job. Advocating the design is second.

We give breath to the design. The use of color, typography, layout, and use of space was all thought out based on experience, user research, and principles. Having the strength in our voice to communicate this effectively to project managers and stakeholders is necessary to back up your design. 

The Importance of User Research.

Testing. Testing. Is this application working to the user’s expectations, and is it exceeding expectations? We won’t know unless we test. Qualitative analysis of user research is a vital piece to the design puzzle. It will save time, money, and energy on a final rollout—instead of a final launch backed by no user research or feedback. 

Convincing stakeholders that UX Design Matters.

Choosing some products over others isn’t just a coincidence. The most successful companies focus on their UX facets to satisfy their users. The user experience is centered around people, and people come in all shapes, sizes, perspectives, disabilities, and processing styles. By having good UX, your product is accessible and enjoyable to everyone. 

As a final note, our colleagues are our partners. A harmonious relationship is detrimental to developing a masterpiece—users will salivate over time and time again.  We are probably not a company’s first UX designer, and certainly not their last. Keep an open mind as closing it only hinders our creativity.

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