Are You a Design Diva?

Are You a Design Diva?


UX people usually hold dear a few common desires: To be user advocates. Educate others about good design. Show off their design skills. And be respected for their work. All constructive things. But combined with power, these goals
can taint the way a designer behaves, producing a design diva. I think of a design diva as someone
who has authority over design, but who uses that authority to lord
over the interface and colleagues in a way that is not advantageous for the organization, users, the dynamics of the development
process, or individual coworkers. Could you be a design diva? Or do you work with one? Here are some signs to look for
in yourself or others. You say snobby design things, like “You
don’t understand the aesthetic,” making people feel small, alienated, and ignorant. Maybe you’re even an education snob and require people to have a
design-related degree before you’ll treat them respectfully. You’re dismissive of others when
they lack knowledge in or master of language over
any of the following: visual design, design software tools,
design terminology, human factors concepts, or jargon related to web patterns
or anything digital. You don’t listen to suggestions, or you dismiss them for no defendable reasons. People are afraid of you, so they rarely give
you suggestions or disagree with you, even if your idea is overly expensive or impossible. You never ideate with anyone but yourself. And what fun is that? You make sure everyone in the room
knows you are the design expert, and they know very little in comparison. You think user research is for only junior
designers or bad designers, and that it should be done on your designs
only if you have requested it. You treat every venture like your
own personal art project, and by choice don’t base your
plans on user research. Your mantras are something like: design is
always supposed to be innovative. Or, design should make the user think. To me the mark of an amazing
designer is that she can pioneer while still making things transparent and useful. Something that’s innovative but
unusable isn’t design. It’s art. Now, the prescription to cure a
design diva is pretty simple. Solicit feedback from others about your designs. Do regular user research and
iterate based on findings. Hold consistent collaborative
sessions with your team. Know deep in your design soul that you are great, so you don’t have to tell everyone to prove it. And most of all, listen often
and with an open mind.

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