The 5 Hats of a User Experience (UX) Architect
As a User Experience (UX) Architect, it is ingrained in us to take into consideration all possible scenarios when laying the foundation of a system. That foundation is so much stronger when the UX Architect can put on multiple hats to get a better understanding of the full system at hand. This active learning can encourage one to think beyond one’s usual role, inform better decision making, and provide skills that can be leveraged later down the line on several projects. Here are a few hats I’ve been known to stylishly don on any given day:
1. API Auditing
Performing an API audit proactively before the design phase provides a more realistic approach on what can be accomplished and helps save time and resources. API auditing reveals the system’s existing features along with some of the limitations that are tied to it. After the audit, the UX Architect is aware of the limitations and successes of the API and can lay the foundation of a system with these in mind, saving time during the engineering phase.
Accessibility has been a hot topic lately around these parts and ensuring that accessibility is top of mind from the get-go can help inform the User Interface (UI) of the system. Color choice that leads to adequate color contrast, UI components that are simple to interact with, and adequate context can provide the building blocks for an accessible system - built proactively instead of reactively once your product has hit the market. Retroactively changing your design or code to meet accessibility standards can have a large negative impact on the health of the project.
3. Visual Design
In order to be a well rounded UX Architect, it is important to obtain some visual design skills. You can then architect systems with design thinking and be a team player that jumps in if graphic designers are swamped with other work. Having a base set of design skills will also lend itself nicely to using a more hybrid design/UX process yielding high fidelity designs in the earlier phases.
4. Google Analytics
Who doesn’t love data? Having an adequate knowledge of Google Analytics can better inform content audits during the discovery process. This can further advise and push designs in the right direction by prioritizing information based on content that acquires the biggest hits and sunsetting legacy content.
5. Quality Assurance (QA) Testing
QA almost feels like the opposite of UX. We carefully build everything up in UX and when it’s time to test, our QA engineers are actively trying to break and poke holes in the system to ensure its functionally and that it is pixel perfect. After building and developing the system, QA allows you to evaluate the system at a minute level to check for bugs. Performing QA tasks as a UX designer can help identify UI bugs that could have been missed.
Reach for the Stars
It is important for a UX Architect to step into the shoes of coworkers in other departments in order to make better decisions and help grow one’s skill set. It creates awareness, broadens horizons, and opens the doors of communication, all in the name of better, more collaborative products!
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