Communicating the UX Vision: 13 Anti-Patterns That Block Good Ideas | Book Review

Even the most seasoned UXers and designers have to deal with difficult “non-creative” members of their team. In this book Martina and James delve into the various ways in which we can improve our communication and focus on the design challenges at hand.

We are never formally taught to how communicate with one another; it is dependant of our daily interactions. This organic means of learning can have negative consequences within the work environment.Communicating the UX Vision looks at the most common anti-patterns in the field of UX communication and offers a formal yet empathetic solution for each.

The authors came up the concept for this book after having a conversation in which they shared their careers woes and horror stories. Martina and James saw a pattern emerging and four years later Communicating the UX Vision was published.

Martina Schell and James O’Brien drew the content for their book from their wealth of experience within the digital industry. Martina is a London based digital product and service designer who specialises in user-centered design with a MA in Applied Imagination from Central Saint Martins. James has 20 years experience in building digital products and with a BSc in Media Technology and Production from the University of Bradford.

Borrowing terminology from the realm of software development, the authors talk about the common issues faced by UXers and designers as anti-patterns. Anti-patterns being an “obvious way of solving a problem that crops up again and again, but unfortunately, it is a poor or destructive solution”. With regards to communication, an anti-pattern can occur when the usual way in which we deal with situations has a negative effect on the other party.

This book talks about 13 common anti-patterns that we have all faced at one point or another, plus some great additional chapters. One of the most pertinent anti-patterns discussed is the chapter “Assuming other don’t get design”; As design specialists it is easy to dismiss non-designers as non-creatives. However, we must remember that design has to work for everyone involved. We now live in a highly designed world and everyone has some exposure, conscious or not, to design. The remedy for this anti-pattern is simple we mustn’t view non-designer comments as criticism but instead as valid feedback.

Another great pattern encouraged by the book is to invite non-designers to collaborative workshops where they will view the product from their angle and KPIs; this will ultimately make sharing ideas and feed back easier.

Communicating the UX Vision is structured in user friendly way that is easily understandable. Each chapter is self contained and can be read in isolation, but alternatively the book can be read from beginning to end. Each chapter is broken up into sections which include the anti-pattern itself, the pattern to remedy it, tricks in spotting when you are in the midst of a particular anti-patterns. Other great sections are case studies, explanations of terminology, and the takeaway section to round of the chapter.

The anti-patterns discussed in this book are all relatable and can easily be applied to to most design experiences. The chapters cover the different stages of the design process from working with deliverables to defending your work. It goes into amazing lengths in dealing with the anti-patterns and the effects it might have on the individual, team or project.

As a whole Communicating the UX Vision gives the user a myriad of tools to help them develop their communication skills within the work place; also offering advice on how to identify and deal with your own anti patterns in its own chapter.

What is most admirable about this books is that despite offering a generalised approach it goes into great detail when advising the reader; the authors mange this without coming across as overly structured and keeps the creative process at its every core. The reader is encouraged to work with their personality and style to improve their communication techniques, to be more empathetic and ultimately a better designer.

Communicating the UX Vision: 13 Anti-Patterns That Block Good Ideas is by Martina Schell and James O’Brien; it was published in 2015 by Elsevier Inc. Check out the official site or Twitter account for this book.

Buy Communicating the UX Vision for your Kindle or as a paperback on Amazon.