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How to be good at UX decision making

Published in Design

Written by

Annina Kivikari
Senior Designer

Annina Kivikari is a Designer with skills ranging from digital design and moving image to marketing. She is also part of Nitor's award-winning Kulttuuritoimitus.

Article

June 21, 2021 · 2 min read time

In life, making good decisions is hard. We know that some things are good for us: broccoli, jogging, and literature, for example. If you agree with this, and still find yourself on the couch drinking wine, going deep down some Reddit rabbit hole, it might not be a surprise that this same difficulty exists in the realm of work projects too.

We think we make smart decisions, but on closer examination, many of our UX decisions are made on a whim, or as a response to random feedback, or worst of all, because we haven’t taken the time to really generate ideas as a team.  

Here are three tips to help you get better at making informed decisions:

Define your goal according to design principles

Defining the goal of your service or product helps the team work toward a common target. For example, if you’re working on an accessible Service Map – like I’m doing for the City of Helsinki – valuing usability over showiness should be made clear to the whole team.  

A designer may be faced with a problem that requires some kind of a trade-off between functionality and interesting visuals. Then finding an answer to a question such as, “Should I push down customer support to give space to an interesting image?”, can be solved by a design principle like  “Assist the customer by always offering support”, which will clearly inform the designer to do the exact opposite.  

Identify your biases and constraints 

In order to create user-friendly products, we need to test our prototypes and products. However, we can’t just test something to confirm our hypothesis. Be open-minded and try to embrace criticism even when it feels hard. 

Most of us work in projects where budgets, team members and time constraints are factors to consider. You might be faced with workplace politics or you might not have the resources to develop all the features you’ve envisioned. Whatever your immediate surroundings are, being mindful of them helps you in decision-making.

Create a safe space where your team can generate ideas 

Making trade-offs between self-evident ideas can only take you so far. Put effort into creating a space for your team where everyone is welcome to come up with ideas. Avoid a pattern where a designer needs to hold on to all decisions. I often look to developers, who have a more communal way of working. 

Written by

Annina Kivikari
Senior Designer

Annina Kivikari is a Designer with skills ranging from digital design and moving image to marketing. She is also part of Nitor's award-winning Kulttuuritoimitus.