A Day in the Life of UX Designer Luke Chambers, Co-founder of UX Mastery
by Sheena Lyonnais
posted on 01-17-2018
Luke Chambers wears many proverbial hats. As a UX consultant and the co-founder of UX Mastery, he’s used to people asking him what a typical day is like for a UX designer. But he’s also deeply fascinated by the intricacies of different UX roles himself and even wrote a book on it.
“People come to UX with their own rich tapestry of different backgrounds, and user experience work itself covers a broad range of roles, so the daily tasks of a UX practitioner aren’t always obvious,” he told us in an email.
He was more than happy to break things down and provide more context into what it’s actually like to work as a UX designer. In his own words, Chambers walks us through a day in his life and weighs in on why this topic intrigues him as well.
Luke Chambers, Co-founder of UX Mastery
What to expect when working as a UX designer
If you’re coming into UX with a focus on interface or visual design, you’re expecting tasks around branding, usability, interaction principles, and visual cues based on cognitive psychology. If you’re coming in with a content or information architecture perspective, then you’re wanting to understand language, how people label things, or how they break up and digest chunks of content.
Whatever your background, it’s important to get back to the core premise of UX: making sure your design decisions are based on direct research with the people using your designs, and that your progress uses an iterative approach to make sure you’re growing things efficiently and in the right direction. It’s how a good user experience is built.
In my consulting work, I’m either embedded on site with a client’s team, or I operate from my own office. A typical day may see me waking up for an early 6 A.M. video call with stakeholders or development partners in the Eastern US — perhaps to talk through recent work and plan next steps.
I usually try and get most of my thinking and problem-solving tasks done in the first part of the day — I find I can express ideas and be more creative then, so after a quick check of emails and putting out the most important and urgent spot fires, I try to unplug and spend a few solid hours getting my head around strategy and requirements, planning a collaborative activity for the late morning, sketching out some possible design solutions to add details to in the afternoon, or doing some thinking around the best ways for getting feedback from research participants.
Late morning has team standup meetings, or collaborative sessions with clients or product managers or other designers and developers. By the time 12:30 rolls around, I’m getting pretty hungry and can feel I’m starting to lag a bit, so I grab my lunch and head out for a walk, or a team social lunch. Having empty space during the lunch break lets my head unravel after so much brain work in the morning. It also means some left-field ideas might seek me ou and that I’m refreshed for tackling things in the afternoon.
The early afternoon is a great time to wade into the details and logistics of setting up interviews with research participants, crunching through Excel spreadsheets of raw data to derive patterns, using tools like Reframer or AirTable to tag transcripts and other research with themes and notes, or jumping into prototyping tools — perhaps alongside a developer or designer — to articulate some ideas visually or assemble the next round of designs.
Later in the afternoon, I’ll either have my head down trying to get something finished and ready for the next day, or I’ll spend some time checking in with colleagues about how they’re doing with their work. It’s a good time for helpful conversations, or simply to coordinate things with people for the next day.
I try to avoid feeling obligated to work in the evenings. Sometimes it feels necessary simply because things need to be done on time, or because that’s the only time overseas contacts can video chat, but I find I can be more effective during the days if I unplug and do something completely different in the evenings. It’s also the time when a lot of ideas gel and I get inspired, when I can let loose and follow ideas down various rabbit holes, and I can harness that for my own personal projects like the community and useful resources at uxmastery.com.
I’ve also collected first hand accounts of how some of my UX heroes spend their days, the tools they use, what their desk setup is like, and how they collaborate. I’ve compiled it all into an ebook called Everyday UX. Being able to see the daily life of pioneers in our field like Jeff Gothelf, Sarah Bloomer, Gerry Gaffney, Ruth Ellison, and many others was so inspiring. What a privilege.
Response has been lightly edited and condensed.
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Topics: Creativity, Design
Products: Creative Cloud