What does a designer/UX expert do on a daily basis?

Some months ago, I posted a simple question on LinkedIn: what does a designer/UX expert do on a daily basis?

In receive a lot of answers and I would like to thank :

Rob (http://twitter.com/rfitzgibbon), Adam (http://x31.net/), Christopher (http://subtxt.us/website/), Elizabeth (http://www.elizabethdavis.net/), Paul (http://www.design.philips.com/), Chris (http://www.chriswillet.com/), Beth (http://www.tandemseven.com/), Aimee (http://www.treetopcreative.com/), Georges (http://uxsurvey.wordpress.com/), Paul (http://www.virtualfloorspace.com/), Paul (http://uxarchitecture.wordpress.com/), Alexander (http://shelter.nu/), Kirk (http://www.homeaway.com/), Tony (http://tmoura.carbonmade.com/) for their answers.

So, here a typical day in the life of a designer/UX expert :

Get into work, fire up the Mac and launch all the programs I’ll need for the day.

Make coffee or some juice while the machine loads stuff like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Entourage, iChat, … Without coffee I am useless.

My workday centers around 7 general activities:

1. Interview stakeholders / gather requirements: this could be remote or in-person. Document meeting notes.

2. Brainstorming meetings: these are the get-togethers with coworkers to discuss solutions for clients, how to structure a sales pitch, that sort of thing.

3. Research/information gathering/heuristic evaluation: reading stuff, browsing the web for successful websites, print-out screenshots and evaluate current website.

4. Schematic creation:  this is building blueprints, site maps, wireframes, process flows, using tools like Axure, Visio, Mindmanager. What’s being built and why will depend on the particular project.

5. Design creation: this is creating screens with Illustrator, Photoshop, … 5% design, 95% communication re: the design. I spend most of my day convincing teams to get on board with specific choices, debating with colleagues, championing my and others design directions and gathering momentum for new ideas.

6. Usability testing: when I sit with the client in a soundproof box with a one way mirror and watch a subject take our schematics out for a spin. (Or occasionally have a dead battery in the driveway.) Sometime, when confronted with a usability issue, the only solution is to replace the user. ;)

7. Keeping up on industry trends: again this is mostly browsing the web/mobile/twitter, and its basically just “surfing the digital tsunami”, finding out what’s going on and learn new things and techniques. I’m fortunate to work in an industry in which checking my Facebook account at work isn’t frowned upon but is de rigueur!

After the 8 hours are up, get everything you worked on to a stopping point, clean out the coffeepot, and go home.

Thinks I like doing each day

1. The actual design part of design, implementing those designs so I can see the results of my work.

2. Constructive debate with clients & establishing relationships with them.

3. Client presentations. This is the “dog and pony show” in which we get cleaned up and present our work. Great fun – I love presenting.

4. Discovering a new tool or a new system that makes the production and busywork portion of my job easier/faster so I can spend more time on “1.”.

Things I hate doing each day

1. Paperwork (includes billing, timekeeping, etc.)

2. Accounting (includes billing, justifying costs to a client who got hit with a higher invoice than expected, dealing with vendors who hit ME with a cost higher than expected, etc.)

3. Seeing a client take the “safe” design concept over one that is “better”, usually because the client made the subjective decision in a committee. Customers have expectations, some are healthy while others are not. So the UX Designer is part technology therapist. Managing expectations takes up to 10% of the time – 5% pre-design therapy and 5% post-design therapy!

4. Gratuitous documentation

Don’t hesitate to comment in order to complete this first list.

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