A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Posted on May 06, 2017

By Thomas Yung

As I start to write this article, lingering questions cropped up. How do we inspire others to participate in our UX Design Matters community? How do we connect with people who otherwise feel intimidated in some way to participate? How do we provide value to those who are more advanced in the UX Design skill set?

The big reason for me starting this group was to learn from my peers and improve my UX design skills. After talking with a lot of you who have attended the meetups, that feeling was mutual. However, one thing was becoming apparent. Participation was constrained to a very small group of members. Interestingly, about 80% of the people that joined this group on Meetup.com have never attended one of our meetups. The psychologist in me was intrigued.

For members that are new to UX design and are looking to get into it as a career change, I think fear plays a big part. Fear paralyzes us. Aspirations drive us forward. Validation from others keep us motivated to continue. We all fear something. I was fearful that no one would show up at the first meetup. When the first person came, my fears instantly vanished. Most of us fear that others are better than us and may look down on us. However, once you start talking with others and get to know them, you realize they are human beings with the same fears and motivations.

For members that are advanced UX practitioners, what can this group possibly offer them? My response is mentorship. Mentorship helps you practice an important skill. Teaching and being able to explain things to others translates well in team project settings. The ability to articulate your design decisions is the most important skill you have as a UX designer. You don’t need to be an advanced UX practitioner to be a mentor. You just need to know a little bit more than the other person. Leadership is about helping others succeed. Pay it forward. I promise you will not be disappointed.

One of the guiding principles that I have started to embrace is “Inclusive Design”. This is the principle that I hope this group stands for. Accessibility is a UX topic that only begins to embody this idea of inclusive design. We must take it further by allowing everyone to participate, and not excluding anyone. We do not want to intimidate anyone from learning about UX.

Why -- is a powerful question to ask as a UX Designer. This leads to empathy, understanding, and ultimately allows you to solve the right problem. I want you to take a step back and reflect on why you originally became a member. Then, ask yourself why again. Do this 5 times, and you will realize the first answer was not really the answer at all. The Five-Whys is a common tool in UX Research. I will leave you with my response to the Five-Whys.

  1. Why did you become a member?

    1. To connect and learn more about UX from others.

  2. Why do you want to connect and learn more about UX from others?

    1. So I can practice UX design full time.

  3. Why do you want to practice UX design full time?

    1. So I can make meaningful contributions to projects that matter.

  4. Why do you want to make meaningful contributions to projects that matter?

    1. So I can be responsible for removing suffering and frustrations from users.

  5. Why do you want to remove suffering and frustrations from users?

    1. Because deep in my heart, I have always rooted for the underdog, the little guy. I want to make things right, out of everything that was wrong.

Thomas Yung