How to Win Every UX Debate

Do you find yourself constantly debating with your design, business, and technology partners about the best ‘user experience’?

The UX Athlete

From designing plays to designing experiences... Lis Hubert shares with us her insights on how to become better in what we do.

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I can’t remember the last time that I went into a meeting with designs and walked out without at least a small scratch. Many times, we find ourselves trying with all of our might to win these debates, and ensure that UX thinking comes out on top.

When we debate like this, with the goal of ensuring that UX is the winner, what tends to happen is that we get so focused on making sure that proper UX is present, that we can lose sight of the ultimate goal. That is, figuring out the best solution to the problem at hand. We also tend to lose a bit of ourselves and this lack of perspective can knock everything out of whack.

So how can we walk away from these debates with a clear perspective intact and still ensure that the solution we come out with meets the project goals? Simple we stop worrying about the score.

When I was first starting to play sports, the thrill of the competition was enticing. All I wanted to do was win (because winning was fun, and was what mattered), but when I was in high school, one of my coaches helped me to see it another way. After one particularly heart-wrenching loss he said to me “Have you and has your team progressed?”. “Yes”, I answered. “Well then, who cares about the score?”.

And that was it. I stopped worrying about the score and started worrying about my own personal progress as well as the progress of my team. I then applied this to the many debates I face in this profession. I stopped making it about the score (was UX winning?) and started making it about progress for myself, my team, and our shared goals. Once I did that I was able to walk away from each debate a winner.

Elisabeth Hubert

Lis is a UX & Strategy Consultant making her way around NYC and beyond. She also is the Chief Experience Officer at 8coupons. You can follow her on Twitter via @lishubert.

7 comments on this article

  1. Fransgaard on

    Completely agree. The winning horse doesn’t race to win; It just loves to run :)

  2. Joel Marsh on

    I am having a hard time finding the point of this article…

    Everyone should agree that the best solution is always the right choice, but in what scenario are the best solution different and the best UX not the same?

    If they are not the same, then either the UX person is wrong, or the definition of “UX” is wrong, or it’s not the best solution.

  3. uxdude on

    Good advice not only for our profession, but for debates & conversations in general. You have a new follower :)

  4. Jeremy Kriegel on

    You don’t think very much of us! :)

    I always give people the benefit of the doubt that they are arguing their point from the perspective of what will be of most benefit to the company/customer. There are certainly those more interested in power and ego, and while the memory of interacting with them tends to stick out in our mind, I think they are in the minority, albeit the very vocal minority.

    From this perspective, ‘winning’ is about whether we are making a better experience for our users and will that lead to improved performance of the business? I think that is what you meant by ‘shared goals.’

    The challenge is that each stakeholder has a different idea of what that improvement looks like. Getting to a point where everyone understands and respects each others’ biases and expertise and can negotiate from a broader perspective takes time and a willingness to be more open to others.

  5. Sandeep Rathod on

    In 100% agreement. Stop worrying about the score. Well said!

  6. Lis on

    Thanks everyone for commenting and reading.

    Fransgaard – Thanks for the new quote!

    Joel – I think we are on the same page, this might be something that you have been living by and that you already know. Many of us are in that boat! But, I still see some UXers who do not have this same perspective, so I write this piece to highlight a different point of view for them.

    uxdude – Thanks :-) .

    Jeremy – Haha you are right, I can be a pessimist from time to time. Yes, that is what I mean by shared goals. The point here, which it seems you get, is that not every UX can take a step back and see when their ideas are not in the user’s best interest because we hold on to the title of user advocate so tightly. Having the ability to do so is very important indeed (as you know and practice).

    Sandeep – Thanks!

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