You Design, They Hold Stakes, We Make Cool Things: Becoming a Great Designer Is Simple, Right?

You Design, They Hold Stakes, We Make Cool Things: Becoming a Great Designer Is Simple, Right?

By: Karen Lim
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What Co-op Students are Forgetting: The Bigger Conversation  

Upon being welcomed into a new Co-op workplace, we as students usually have big goals that we want to achieve, such as getting a stellar project, being recognized for game-changing ideas, or network on LinkedIn with everyone from HQ to the VP-of-Big-Decisions. There is undoubtedly a plethora of advice online that explains how these high-profile tasks lead to greater mastery of the almighty senior design role. However, many overlook the equally important smaller, low-profile work. In fact, it may be an essential part of becoming a truly ‘good designer’ who serves their team and their company. 

What Not to Do 

So, what could these smaller actions be that help you become a star design Co-op student? Let’s look at it from another angle: what things you should not do! Here are four scenarios with fictional character, Des Igner, a new Co-op student at their brand new UX/UI design internship.  

1. Disregarding Project Artifacts 

An illustration showing a designer taking artifacts from project and burning in a barbeque

Des has just finished a project, and they decide to celebrate by taking the sticky notes, drawings, and journey maps to use as firewood. You never know when you need to show off those s’mores-making skills during the next happy hour! 

As designers, we must not just forget about the ideas, analysis, and work that was put into a project. Taking some time after to organize and record what happened, who attended, and what the key insights are can greatly benefit the next project and future designers. This can all be done with simple tools such as Slack, Notion, Google tools like Docs or Sheets, or through a company wiki. Make sure to share these documents with your team for future reference!

2. Asking Leading Questions 

Illustration of a designer asking leading questions

Des has been given the task to facilitate a user testing session! They are really excited and know that they’ve had lots of practice doing testing in school. The participant is seated, the test device and camera are ready, and the session starts. Des’ points to the button on the screen and asks, “You like what you see, eh?” 

It is a great idea to be friendly and help make your participants comfortable with speaking to you about the design, but it can be very detrimental if you ask leading questions! In brief, these are types of questions that are worded in a way that influences a participant’s answer. Most participants are not likely to be straightforward in offering critical feedback, so when leading questions are asked, it becomes hard for your team to trust that the participant’s answers are not simply the participant trying to be agreeable. Although Des’ situation is an obvious example, there are also subtle ways leading questions can be asked unnoticed. See some more examples below: 

Evaluating usability “Was this feature easy for you to use?” “Can you comment on your experience using this feature?”
Analyzing social dynamics “Has your team ever experienced negative communication with X team?” “Describe the communication that your team has with X team.”
Testing visual layouts “Did you use the button on the top right to go to the next step first?” “During this step, what elements would you consider taking you to the next step?”

3. Not Being Prepared to Communicate Your Design in a Meeting