10 New Year Resolutions for UX Designers

Posted by Troy Broas | January 1, 2012  |  No Comment

2011 has quickly come and gone and it’s time to make your 2012 New Year’s Resolutions (Of course you can always use the 2011 resolutions that you didn’t quite keep!). Here are 10 resolutions that UXDs may want to consider:

  1. Pick and Learn a New Tool/Skill: There are literally hundreds of tools than can help make your job as a UXD easier and more fun. Take a step back and think about how you do your daily job and determine where there is the most friction. Would your life be easier if you had a better way to make wireframes? Try learning Balsamiq, Axure, iRise or any of the other programs out there. Maybe it is time for you to finally master Visio or OmniGraffle. Even if your budget is tight, you can still download trial versions of most software, and there are many free alternatives out there too. If your job includes coding, make an effort to brush up on HTML5, CSS3 or one of the many JavaScript frameworks (Go JQuery!!). Whatever your situation may be, you can only make it better by adding more skills to your repertoire.
  2. Get a New Job: There are many reasons why you might want to make this one of your resolutions. Maybe you aren’t fond fo the industry you currently work in or your current role isn’t challenging enough. Whatever the case may be, 2012 can be a new beginning for your UX career. Although the economy is still sluggish, as a UX Practictioner, you are lucky to be in a field that is still very much in demand and usually results in a good salary. Many of the resolutions on this list can directly lead to you getting a new job in the new year. Visit one of the many job boards and read the job descriptions to get a feel for what types of skills are in demand in your area. Use this to guide you on what new skills you are going to to learn. Just remember to be persistent and don’t give up!
  3. Read a Book: Books are always a great way to learn more about the world of UX.  I have a bad habit of buying books, then leaving them on the shelf to collect dust, so needless to say, this will be one of my resolutions for 2012. I am currently reading, ” A Project Guide to User Experience Design“, but there are many other books out there. If you received an iPad, Tablet or a Kindle for Christmas, put it to good use and download an eBook today!
  4. Finish That Side Project You Set Aside: The odds are pretty good that you have a side project that you started working on last year but  had to push aside because your life got too busy. Find some time in 2012 to dust of that project and get it completed. Side projects are always a good way to focus on work that you enjoy (as opposed to being something your were assigned to do at work). They are also a fun way to learn new skills. I plan on finally getting my first iPhone app submitted to the app store, but we will see how that goes!
  5. Create or Update Your Portfolio: If you look at any job posting for a UX position, you will almost always see the bullet listed, ” To be considered for this position, a portfolio is required for the hiring manager to review“. Make it a point in 2012 to either create your portfolio, or if you already have one created, update it with items you have accomplished in 2011. Here are some tips on creating a  good portfolio.
  6. Share Your Knowledge and Skills: It is always a good practice to share your skills and knowledge with others. Each of us, regardless of experience level, has something valuable to share. There might be something that a fresh graduate knows, that a 10 year UXD veteran has never heard of. Paticipate in discussions on LinkedIn Groups, message boards or other forums or host lunch and learn sessions at work. Not only will you help out your fellow UXD practitioners, but you will also find that you learn a lot for yourself in the process.
  7. Join an Organization: There are many organizations out there that you can join, some are local, while others are much larger. Joining an organization is a good way to network and make connections in the world of UXD. As mentioned earlier, you can join a group on LinkedIn, or look into organizations such as UPA, IxDA, or HFI to name a few.
  8. Learn to Sketch: Sketching is a very valuable skill to have, and you will need it when working with wireframes, personas, storyboards and workflows among other things when designing your user experience. Do you have to be an artist to be a good UXD? No, but being able to better communicate your ideas with a well designed sketch  can greatly increase your work efficiency (and your value as an employee!). It doesn’t matter if you use pen and paper or a stylus and tablet, practice makes perfect! If  you are going to make this one of your resolutions, check out this post on Sketching Techniques.
  9. Attend Training or a Workshop/Conference: The world of UX is constantly evolving. How do you keep up with the latest and greatest? Probably the best way (but unfortunately one of the most expensive too) is to attend training or a conference. There will be plenty of opportunities in 2012 for you to take advantage of these sessions. If you don’t have the budget, consider talking to your employer about sending you to at least one. Many companies have a trainnig budget set aside for employee professional development. Last year I was lucky enough to be able to attend Interaction Design training with CooperU, and I hope to return for the Visual Design training.
  10. Lose Weight and/or Get Healthy: Believe it or not, there is more to life than UXD! All joking aside, take some time in 2012 to step away from the computer or whiteboard and spend it with your friends and family. We are all guilty of “getting in the zone” and wanting to work “just one more hour” on a project that we are really into (sitting at your desk with Chinese Take Out and a large Mountain Dew is not really considered a healthy meal, although it is quite tasty). You will find that the happier, healthier and more well-rested you are, the more creative and efficient you will be. Get out and go for a walk, Sweat to the Oldies, pet your dog, hug your wife (or significant other) and enjoy your life!

So, there you have it. Regardless of whether or not you choose to use any of these resolutions, I hope you all have a great 2012!


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