Pandemic-Proof Your UX Process in 2020
Have a Set Schedule
To no surprise, the world has become an extremely different place in the past few months. As UXers, we excel in the uncertainty, finding hidden solutions for problems that our clients may not even know exist.
With much of the world transitioning indoors for remote work, approaching how to set up your own work habits during the pandemic is best served through a UX lens. Let’s drive right in.
Have a Set Schedule
The office hours of 9 to 5 don’t exist when there’s no office to go to. This makes it easy to fall into the trap of starting late or working strange hours. This isn’t uncommon to remote workers or freelancers — the trick is to stick to a schedule once you figure it out. Want to do a workout before starting? Go for it. Want to do a video conference after finishing that season in Netflix? Sure, buddy.
Have a Set Spot
Have a comfy couch? It might work for remote work, but your desk may be more effective when it comes to buckling down and doing your work (take note, lady in picture up top). Set up a spot in your home that’s designated your work zone. It will put you in the right mindset to take on all problems thrown your way.
Use Video Conferencing
The most glaring issue of the current state of work is that we can’t see who we’re working with at the current moment. Especially when it comes to research and/or feedback, designers currently cannot benefit from in-person interviews and reactions.
The best we can settle for is the recent surge of Zoom calls. Regardless, it is imperative to check in with clients or teammates through video conferencing as opposed to quick messaging. Interesting note, Zoom’s stock price has double since the beginning of the year, showing the value of video conferencing in a world where everyone has retreated indoors. I would assume the value of pajamas has also increased significantly.
… And Collaboration Tools
With the rise in popularity of prototyping tools that allow for online collaboration (see Figma and Adobe XD), we may see a rise in usage for these types of programs in the coming months or years. Whereas with a program like Sketch, files need to be exported among different parties (unless an external plugin like InVision is used), these tools live online, meaning users can make changes right through the browser.
Tools like Figma also provide easy ways of creating team libraries that can make it easier to manage design systems with multiple team members. Pairing these tools with video conferencing may be a good way of showcasing work.
Apart from prototyping tools, communicating through applications like Slack can keep teammates connected during remote work.
Slack is light-hearted, can harness the underrated power of emojis, and provides a detailed typed history of conversations for reference (more on that later). Tools like Google Sheets and Docs also get a special shout out here.
Just remember to check in with teammates through a video call every now and then. Otherwise, you might end up like the Key & Peele clip referenced here.
Write Everything Down
Working remotely gives even more importance to writing, one of a UXers prominent super powers. Adding notes to prototypes and wireframes is a good way to let others know what changes you’ve made or are considering. Try grabbing a notebook to document your research, meeting notes, and new ideas.
This is not much different from face-to-face note-taking, but the extra time alone adds to the urgency of recalling facts, details, and issues about a current project. You’re now your own secretary.
Especially since you’re stuck indoors, try to at least get some activity done. Do some pushups or better yet, download the 7 Minute Workout to make sure you’re not sitting down all day. Exercising has proven to boost morale and a good routine may help us combat against the ever-increasing snack urges that we get at home.
Don’t Lose Your Cool
Never forget that life isn’t all work. You need to remember your loved ones during these times. Chat with friends and family, walk your dog, and play with your kids. Humans need to continue being social beings, so make sure you use a little bit of your time to wind down.
The world will get through this pandemic. Human beings are a resourceful bunch. We have brilliant nurses and doctors doing amazing work. When the virus passes, the design landscape may be very different due to this extended period of remote work.
I had already touched on James Clear’s Atomic Habit s in a previous article, but it’s important to mention it again — even the smallest improvements go a long way. The changes in how you approach your work now will carry over when you return to the office.