Happy New Year! As we roll into 2018, many of us are refreshing and reevaluating some of the personal goals that we set and perhaps struggled to keep last year. Exercise more, eat healthier, spend less, be a better person. The same handful of resolutions tops the list every January.
But if we think beyond these generalist resolutions, and aim to improve ourselves in, for example, our work – what kind of resolutions can we make as UX practitioners?
Each of us has our own combination of professional strengths, weaknesses, and habits, so there’s no single list that’s perfect for everybody. Here are 6 ideas that we came up with at TryMyUI. We’ll be working on these over the course of 2018, and maybe some of them will strike a chord with you. Tell us about your UX resolutions in the comments!
1. Find new sources of inspiration
Creativity is one of the great engines of our work. A sharp creative sense helps us to design interfaces that are pleasant and alluring, but creativity can lose its edge or become stuck in a rut. Looking to other UX designers’ work is a great way to stay fresh, but this year, we’re making a resolution to look further.
Read more: Chasing after aha moments
Creative inspiration can spring from many fountains. Reading more – novels, poems, short stories. Spending time outside. Breaking out an old musical instrument and re-learning forgotten tunes. Creating artwork. Writing. None of these are directly UX-related activities, yet will stimulate your creativity in general and boost your work.
2. Try something different
As individual designers, we can have a tendency to build up a “vocabulary” that we design in: specific elements, colors, styles, shapes, and patterns that characterize our functional / visual dialect. This year, try growing your design vocabulary.
Use a page layout you’ve never used before. Experiment with a color you usually ignore. Try out new spatial relationships, elements you’re not as practiced in, or styles that intrigue you. Not every experiment will succeed, but all of them will help you grow and hone your craft.
3. Test regularly
Usability testing is one of those things that we all know we should do, but few of us do it enough. This resolution is the “exercise more” of the list. And like exercising, this resolution will really only stick if you make it a habit. Once you do, you’ll realize how enjoyable (and valuable) it is!
On a related note, to help you start a user testing habit this New Year’s, we are offering a special deal: until the end of January, you can get all of Q1 (3 months of the Team Plan) for the price of just 1 month. With 3 months of tests, you can sustain a steady stream of UX research and spend the first quarter of the year fine-tuning your products’ usability.
4. Write your stories down
Writing will not only help you flex a different creative muscle, it will help you to mature as a UXer. As the field expands and loads of newcomers pour into UX jobs, you can help show the way by sharing your experiences through writing. Veteran voices are needed to buoy the UX community, provide leadership, and communicate diverse viewpoints.
Next time you finish a big project – say a major redesign, a new feature release, or an in-depth research study – write the story of the project. This will be a healthy way to clarify for yourself what you learned and share it with others, as well as a valuable documentation of your work that you can show potential future employers.
5. Be a voice for UX in your organization
Your perspective can be helpful not only to other UXers, but also to non-UX colleagues in your organization. This year, be bold in speaking about your vision for the product, based on both your intuition and actual research with users.
Demonstrating the value of a user-centric point of view through constructive argumentation and evidence is a critical skill for UX professionals. Make 2018 the year you lead your team towards providing better experiences.
6. Question your assumptions
This is a good resolution for anyone, but especially important for UX practitioners, since our work is predicated on the assumptions we make about our users. Don’t let yourself get too comfortable and settle into what you think you know. Instead, make sure you always stop and ask: Why do I think that? Am I sure of it? What piece of the picture might I be missing? Who could I learn more about this from?
As the rapper K’naan said, paraphrasing Socrates: “Any man who knows a thing knows he knows not a damn, damn thing at all.”
Ready to start a user testing habit in the new year? Sign up for a Team Plan using the code UX2018 and get 3 months for the price of 1!