As designers, more over as individuals, we tend to look to fact in order to solve our problems, prove our points, etc. This is not a bad thing at all. I’m an advocate for discussions that are rooted in fact. However, there is a problem in our world of UX and design… that is a good amount of the time, facts or proof do not exist. A good deal of our profession and what we do in UX is based on observing user behaviors and inferring needs and goals based on this observation. There is usually a huge grey space inbetween, and, at times, we can be found doubting ourselves and our ideas, especially when there is a big ugly stakeholder in our way trying to “prove” us wrong.
I started to think about this more the other day as I was reading Todd Wilkens’ post on the Adaptive Path blog entitled Avoiding Half-baked Personas. There is one part of the piece that really stood out to me: Proto-personas the power of intuition based on data. It got me thinking not only about this step in the persona creation process, but how this metaphor can be applied to our field overall. That being that a great deal of what we do is all about using our intuition based on the data we observe or read.
Let’s face it you, as a UXer, probably do a ton of reading. In fact, you are reading this post right now in order to gain some different perspective on a topic in UX. We are a well informed profession for the most part. However, if we believe as individuals that at our core we, and thus our intuition, cannot be trusted, then we tend to falter when providing rational to stakeholders, developers, business people, etc.
So, how do we solve this problem? We need to begin to trust ourselves and really listen to our gut. Take a look around you at all you’ve learned and all you continue to learn. Everyday I learn something new about a job that I’ve been doing for 5+ years. This is important to realize because many professionals don’t take that chance to learn and iterate. We need to interalize our knowledge in order to become more confident in ourselves. Thereby really listening to our “guts” when it comes to experience decisions.
Thus, what I am telling you is to calm down when these fact based people begin to try and prove your design solution wrong. Because, quite frankly, there are not enough facts to prove one’s point by that route. We need to look at the most educated and knowledgable person in the room when it comes to users, and that is you! By trusting ourselves, and thus our “guts” we’ll get to see more of our solutions come to life, as well as feel better about ourselves as individuals, and have more confidence in ourselves. With each “trusting your intuition” success you have, you will become more and more confident in yourself as well as be able to bring more solutions to the people you serve… the users.
Please note: I also think that this post relates to more experienced designers (say… have worked on a number of projects & continued to evolve inside the profession experienced) as opposed to the “novice” designer mentioned in this study: The User-Centered Design Process: Novice Designers’ Use of Evidence in Designing from Data. Also, does anyone know what constitutes as novice in the study?