6 things to never tell your design lead
If you want to move up the career ladder or get a promotion, be sure to never say these things to your design lead
There comes a time in every UI designer’s life when we say something we immediately regret.
It happens to all of us. One minute we’re chatting to our design lead and the next thing, oops, we’ve said the wrong thing and we’re red-faced.
You get that look. Followed by the raised eyebrow. Suddenly, you’re questioning whether or not you’re a competent designer… But, fear not. You’re not alone.
If you want to stay in your design lead’s good graces, here are 6 things you should never tell your design lead.
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“Do you think this UI looks good?”
UI design is not the place to start discussing pet peeves. You design lead will banish you if you start espousing opinions about how something looks.
A user interface has to function for the user. That’s what your design lead cares about. It’s what you should care about.
But all too often user interface designers—at least those who come from a graphic design background—are fixated on appearance. It’s a hard habit to kill. This is bad news and should be stopped at once.
After all, ugly UIs can often get the job done.
“I feel like this call to action button would look better aligned to the right”
Feelings. They’re nice to have but rarely help when it comes to doing good user experience design.
How you feel about something is not going to fly with your design lead. They want cold hard facts. Evidence. Quantitative data. Your feelings are ephemeral and momentary.
Instead of telling your design lead where you feel UI elements should go, carry out some research. An A/B test can put you on the right track, for example.
A/B tests are a great way to gather reliable data about a user’s preference. Testing enables us to make the right decision without the guesswork.
When you’ve got data to back you up, you can say: “My research shows users are more likely to interact with the call to action button when it’s placed near eye level on the page.”
“What if we tricked the user?”
Oh boy. There are some UX bandits out there who aren’t working for the user. Instead, they’re working for The Man, trying to earn him a buck. Don’t be that person. Defend the user. It’s your job.
You might be grappling with a Really Tough Design Problem. A problem so tough that you can’t crack it. The solution is not to make the life of your user difficult or to dupe them.
Dark UX patterns are rife in the wild west of the internet. Like really confusing and obtuse security settings post GDPR, for example.
One company even put its consent button right near the close icon in a popup. Gross.
When you dupe the user in for a short-term gain, it only damages the company in the long run.
Plus, where’s your humanity?!
“You’re wrong about that”
This one is a big no-no. Even if your design lead is 100% wrong about that thing, do not say they’re wrong.
People can’t stand being wrong. When you tell somebody they are wrong, they will quickly put up their defenses. They’ll be unwilling to cooperate. And it’ll only make them more forthright in their position.
If your design lead really is wrong, there are a few tactics you can use to your advantage.
First, instead of saying “you’re wrong” you can choose a more diplomatic approach: “I disagree”.
This makes it about you and not them. Disagreement can open debate and together you can reach a compromise.
The second tactic is to find a way to let their wrongness be a discovery of their own.
It’s much easier to convince someone when they’re the one who discovers the issue. Blaise Pascal, the 17th-century philosopher said it best when he wrote:
“People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.”
Put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s wrong. When you want to deal with someone’s wrongness, use empathy.
Renowned philosopher Daniel Dennett has four tips for a successful critical commentary:
- You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
- You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
- You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
- Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
“Your feedback offended me”
Feedback is essential. We need it to get better. Avoid telling your design lead that you’re offended by their feedback.
The chances are they aren’t out to make you feel bad or offended by what they’re saying. They want you to improve and get better. That’s why they hired you, right?
When you tell your design lead you’re offended by their feedback, this can hurt you in the long run. They may no longer feel comfortable giving objective feedback for fear of hurting your feelings. Honesty and clear communication are important in the workplace.
Feedback is valuable information. You can use it to improve your own performance, motivate you and help you continue to learn new things.
If you receive feedback that is off-kilter, don’t panic. Stay cool in situations like this. Melody Wilding at The Muse has 5 actionable tips to maintain composure when you get feedback you don’t like.
“That was a bad design decision”
Kick them while their down, won’t ya? People make bad choices all the time. But telling your design lead after the fact is negative. It’ll only come off as rude and holier-than-thou.
By all means, voice your concerns about a design before a decision has been made. That way, your ideas can be heard and used. But afterward? Zip those lips.
6 things never to tell your design lead – the takeaway
We’re all human and we say things that we don’t mean. What’s important is recovering from these slips of the tongue.
When speaking with your design lead, stay focused on what you’re saying. If you say something out of line, own it. Take responsibility. But be sure never to say anything from the list above unless unemployment is a career change you’re looking into.