Write when you have something to say

May 29, 2024 in Product design

The hardest part of writing consistently while not letting the readers and subscribers down, is knowing what to write and when to release it. When I first started, I pushed myself to write a new post every two weeks and for a while, it was great! Not so much because the content was fantastic, but it transformed my self-perception of “not being a writer.” Then when I allowed myself to go back to a more loosely defined schedule as coming up with topics became more difficult. If I have no deadline, do I really have anything I need to say? Do I have something I should say?

Jason Fried echoed this thinking in a tweet the other day:

I’ve found I can remove myself from the question of whether or not I have something to say by simply answering questions. If it’s helpful advice for one person, chances are there are at least one or two more that mind find it helpful as well. The my response meant something, right? So, that leads me to share this week’s questions from Anida, a senior designer in Berlin:

1. Do you think that there are still companies out there who still don't think ux research is beneficial? Why could that be and how would you change their minds?

2. Did you have to do projects, where you had to do research, ux and ui because there was no other designer? If so, how do you stay unbiased in those situations? For me it's one of the biggest challenges to test your own designs. What do you think?

3. What is your next big thing? As in, do you want to stay a freelancer forever or do you have any exit plans? Something like "Starting an alpaca farm" :-D

It’ll be difficult to weave these questions into one big post as they are so different from one another, so I’ll answer them one by one.

UXR shouldn’t be an option - but it is

I think by now most companies see the benefits of UX research. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean it’s equally valued with other facets of the company’s project. UXR is still one of the first things that get’s pulled when the money is tight which, let’s face it, it almost always is. As I’m no longer consulting, I’m glad to no longer have to struggle to convince companies of the benefits of UXR. I’m even more happier to work for a company that fully embraces the knowledge that comes from UXR and encourages everyone (not just designers or researchers) to do their own UXR by talking to users. It might sound harsh, but I think companies that don’t think about user research at all won’t exist in 5-10 years. People are so hyped about AI at the moment and literally throwing money at it, when in the end, it’s not AI that’s paying for your product is it?

It’s just not viable anymore to run a company and not truly understand your customers and their needs. This is largely because of two things; 1) starting a company has never been easier, meaning competition will rise more frequently, and 2) customers are aware that there are more options available and are way less loyal to brands.

Paul Graham, co-founder of Y-combinator on the importance of talking to your customers (and why most companies don’t do it):

"What you will get wrong is that you will not pay enough attention to your users.

You will make up some idea in your own head that you will call your "vision", and you will spend a lot of time thinking about your vision. In a cafe. By yourself. And build some elaborate thing without going and talking to users, because that's doing sales, which is a pain in the ass, and they might say no.

You will not ship fast enough because you're embarrassed to ship something unfinished, and you don't want to face the likely feedback that you will get from shipping. You will shrink from contact with the real world, contact with your users. That's the mistake you will make."

A great designer wears many hats

As a consultant, it’s not uncommon to have to wear many hats. In fact, I think one of the greatest skills to have as a consultant is the ability to adapt and change. There’s a lot of talk about what niche you should focus on and developing a tailored approach. While that may be helpful to a small subset of people, it’s rare to make a living out of doing just one specific thing. Not to mention, if you ask me, it’d probably become… dull? So yes, over the years I’ve had to do research, UX, and, UI myself.

The way to disconnect yourself from the work while doing research is to focus solely on what you’re researching. For instance, I’d start by making sure I could clearly define the problem, constraints, and requirements. This can be done through stakeholder interviews, but also by talking to customers. The key here is to not focus on “solutionizing”, but understanding the problem and making sure that there’s an aligned view of what the problem is across all stakeholders.

The next step might be to come back and discuss the information you collected, what the problem is, and possibly show a couple of very low-fidelity designs of how a solution might work. The emphasis here should be on how it should work, not how it might look.

This way, when you show them designs, you’ll have two things to use as a foundation for your designs. First, you have a defined an aligned view of what the problem is and, second, you have an aligned view of how it should work towards addressing the problem. What you’re sharing with them in this round is an option and assessing if they believe this visual interpretation resonates with the way to solve the problem.


As a matter of fact, I’m proud to announce that I’m about to open Sweden’s first alpaca farm! Haha, not really, but I just recently decided to join Summer Health full-time so my next big thing is to help them raise the healthiest generation of kids (talk about setting the bar high!). I think on a longer term, since my partner is a chef, I get to see what working with customers on a more physical presence can do for you. It’d be great to one day open a small restaurant & wine bar together with a special focus on what the customer experiences and, even more importantly, takes away from their visit. I always love learning from other physical spaces like hotels, restaurants, and shops on how they create a great customer experiences. It would be super exciting to see how I could transform my experience in digital experiences into physical one. Not to mention, I think a lot of restaurants could do a much better job at extending the experience from the actual meal. One day!

Again, thanks so much to Anida, for sending me your questions and everyone else as well! I love thinking about them and replying to them and I know it’s helpful for the larger audience. If you have a question, sign up for my newsletter and hit reply!

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