The first manifestation of the dark side of the force is when you are hired as a UX designer not really to do your job (good UX), but to fake it, to just witness the (bad) design process.
You could be fooled at first when every one is pretending to be a good team player... But soon you realise that no matter what you could suggest, the product will remain the same, only with a slight difference: you were there to justify that stamp on the commercials you know: instead of “as seen on TV”… “UX design inside”.
When user journey gets mixed up with a very bad trip
Have you already been to an Ikea shop? Do you know where the little candles are located? Imagine you just want to buy little candles. How anoying is it to have to go all the way through the top floor, then down all the way to the ground floor to get them?
Well guess what: while Ikea is now offering shortcuts inside their stores to help you skip the living room - bedroom - kitchen sections when all you want is getting candles, a big Telecom company I know came up with this brilliant idea that applying the ikea showroom design to their customers website would be a good solution to solve a poor upsell rate!
Business Teams knew that almost every client accessing their customer space were looking for their invoices. And they asked designers team to work on a user journey, from login page to invoice page, that would make sure clients would make a detour by the new phones offers pages...
For sure the number of pages viewed in the phonoe catalogue section would increase. But I don't think the conversion rate nor the quality of the user experience would.
Skip research: the most powerfull call from the dark side
There is always a good reason:
We are already late on the roadmap, we need to deliver now...
or We have no budget for research, but the marketing campaign is going to be big!
or (and this is the most vicious one) We are all users of the service, we all know what we should do... what is the point in interviewing customers?
Well, the point is that you could get the most valuable results, in no time, for a very low cost.
So, how to avoid the call for the dark side? How to fight it and make sure we can deliver good UX?
Feel the force: ask questions
Part of our job is about asking questions. So we'd better make sure that we are allowed to do so, as soon as possible, at our job interview, or at the beginning of a new project. Be sure to prepare at least a set of questions:
ask why UX is important
Someone not able to answer clearly to that question might be searching for a process witness, not a UX designer
ask about UX/UI difference
Be careful when you are asked to present a portfolio with stunning graphic final designs and not your thinking process
ask about how decisions are usually made
Are they based on data and facts (so user reasearch)? Or the intuition of the Marketing Manager (or his wife)?
Be patient: as a UX coach
You need to help people from every team understand why you ask so many questions; help them visualize what you have learned from users and how you could make some changes that will be valuable for both customers and business.
You may be the one bringing insights that put marketing decisions or even business orientations at risk. That may not be the most comfortable position. But it may be for the best. So be true to the data coming from real users and fear not to stand for them.
Control your temper
Change is frightening. So be prepared to handle things smoothly. Sometimes it is only a matter of managing change.
What if there is really nothing you can do to deliver a good user experience?
explain why and say no
If there is nothing you can do to deliver a good UX, take the time to explain why. Explain why you are facing an impossible assignment that will lead to bad user experience, bad design, and therefore, will not serve neither the customers nor the business. Refuse to go to the dark side and remain a true Jedi. Jedi masters have the guts to say no.