Web and app development is much different from static, visual design. The goal of communicating a message may be the same. However, web development adds an extra dimension to the process by allowing user interactions. These interactions foster endless ways to engage and entertain your audience but introduce pitfalls that cause your message or goal to fail. How can we gain a designer’s mindset when performing web development to create the best possible user experience?
Be Open to Criticism
To be a successful web or UX / UI developer, you must be open to feedback and criticism. Experience building user interfaces does not ensure product success for your users. Each website and app is unique in the audience it serves and the goal it seeks to accomplish.
Always listen to your users, whether that is from issues raised from user testing or data-driven feedback from A/B tests and Google Analytics. Be gracious enough to accept and learn from your design missteps. If users or product owners have issues, be open to hearing what they say and evaluate how to update your designs and UX to build the best app.
Design to Test
This leads us to our next mindset goal: design to test. To receive criticism and feedback, you will need to be able to gather user data. Data is the lifeblood of modern apps and websites. This data comes from many inflection points in your apps, including where users come from, what pages they exit on, and even specific parts of a sales funnel that cause them to abandon the process. These data points are necessary for making sound and informed design decisions.
Determine where interactions may happen and include elements to capture these interactions whenever you are designing interfaces. If an area of a screen requires multiple clicks or taps to move to the next step of the process, capture this and redesign the feature to be easier to click. Knowing where to place test comes with experience, but this is crucial to getting the feedback to design great apps.
Do the Simple Things Well
Building solutions from the ground up is a mistake when approaching user interface design or API development. Some developers do this to feel in control, while others might do complete builds for the ego boost that comes with knowing they can. If solutions already exist for your problems or features, use these solutions.
Users have expectations for how components should look and work. A link should have certain behaviors when hovered over and clicked on and should lead to another page. Buttons should have a specific appearance, and clicking them should trigger an action related to their call-to-action text. Do not try to reinvent expected interactions to make your app different.
Always check that the simple items and interactions work as the user expects so they can focus on interacting with your design. Do the simple things well so you can focus on the features that are different and special.
Know What You Are Trying To Solve
A designer’s mindset is centered around creating to provide solutions. Always know the specific problem your app or website is trying to solve. As you design user journey maps, ask yourself if all paths lead to a solution for the user. It is easy to lose sight of what you are creating as the act of building can distract from solving issues. Never forget that the outcome of any app or website is to solve a user’s problem.
Know Your Users
Users come with all sorts of abilities and experiences. Even within groups, no two users are alike. You need to understand who your users are and what they may expect from interfaces and experiences. Are they of a generation that needs minimal copy and persuading to decide? Can they navigate more complex interfaces, or do they require help through the process step-by-step? Know the limitations of your audience to ensure you offer the best experience.
Always Be Curious
UX / UI development and software engineering are careers for curious people. No two products or designs they work on will be the same. Each issue has different users, constraints, tools, and goals. The common parts between products are the mental tools developers use to solve problems.
These tech careers can be more accurately labeled as problem solvers, where each role entails specific tools for the problems. It requires many tools to be flexible for clients and approach problems from many angles. You must be curious about what problems exist in your industry and learn about all the tools necessary to master your craft. This is continuous self-education. Always be learning.
Start Your Developer Journey Today
If developing a designer’s mindset interests you, entering tech may be a significant career change. The tech industry has plenty of roles to match unique skill sets and interests, whether you are more technical-focused or enjoy design. If you want to become a UX/UI Developer, check out this 5-month bootcamp from Thinkful. If you are more interested in the technical side of development, this 5-month Software Engineering Bootcamp may be your best path!