Are you a Builder, Fixer or Optimizer UX designer

UX Design Jennifer Blatz

I have been reading Todd Henry’s book “Herding Tigers” recently and read about the three types of drivers for designers and creative people. Sure we’ve head about the different types of personality tests people can take to help them understand their strength and expressiveness. But I found this simple concept to be very helpful for me to understand the type of creative work I want to do.

There are three types of motivations that keep designers happy, driven and flat out inspired to carry on. Not all designers like to work on the same types of projects. I am going to discuss the three types of motivations for create people.

BuildersJennifer Blatz UX designer builder

  • Live for the process of creating something new
  • Want a clean slate, a difficult problem to solve and no instruction manual
  • Not satisfied with tweaking something

In other words, Builders are your “big sky” type of designer who can be very creative comping up with an idea from scratch. He/she doesn’t want you to prescribe a solution. They want to come up with one themselves. So for the Builder, give them complete freedom to go hog wild and build or create the brand new design from the ground up.

FixersJennifer Blatz UX designer fixers

  • Love analysis and diagnosis
  • Can quickly scan a situation, identify what is broken and find a solution
  • Can be paralyzed with a new project. The prefer some parameters

I think that Fixers love User Research and validation. Fixers can look at a website or app that already exists and can see the problems that are there and want to jump right in to correct the problems right away. Unlike the Builder, they may not feel like they can get started on a complete blank canvas. The Fixer prefers a foundation to get started with.

OptimizersJennifer Blatz UX designer optimizer

  • Love to take something good and make it great
  • Look for efficiencies and hate waste
  • Work best with defined objectives and ways to quantify performance

Finally, Optimizers are quite similar to Fixers. A blank canvas is not their forte. They prefer to work in an organized world with some boundaries already set. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This is why design systems and style guides exist. Some might even say that Optimizers are machine-like and want to “trim the fat” to make the most efficient user flow and task completion possible.

So what am I? A Builder, Fixer or Optimizer?

I think I am a cross between a Fixer and an Optimizer. I really do enjoy the “fixing up” and tinkering to make a system or interface better, more efficient and more streamlined. I don’t think this is as simple as just “making it look pretty.” Nope. In fact I really do not like that concept at all.

I am the type of person who like to take an older system and improve the process. I like to remove extra steps and bloat. I think the Optimizer also relates to the

  • “make sure you are on time,”
  • “there needs to be some organization and a bit of a plan going in to this” and
  • “don’t miss deadlines”

aspects of my personality. What can I say? I am organized and like an orderly world around me when I can get it. That does not mean I cannot go with the flow. Oh, I would not be able to be a UX designer if I could not adjust on the fly. It just means that I do prefer to have a bit of cleanliness in the chaos when possible.

Finally the researcher side of me also wants data and validation to support my design concepts and theories. I am not that crazy egomaniac that falls in love with my designs. I want to know that I am building the right thing, not just the thing right. I want to test my designs to make sure it is in the right track.

Which approach to you fall under when it comes to a project?

Speaking at Agile for Patriots

Jennifer Blatz UX design speaking
Speaking at the 4th cohort of Agile for Patriots class in Plano.

March continues to be a busy month for me with a speaking engagement for continuing-education students. I always enjoy speaking for the Agile for Patriots class. According to their website, Agile for Patriot’s mission is:

Preparing Patriots for Agile careers through focused training, practical experience, professional certification, and employment referral.

I am very fortunate to speak to these hungry and eager students, who are bettering themselves by becoming scrum certified. Not only have they served our country by being in the military, their commitment and drive will propel them in to a new career as an agile scrum coach.

My topic is very similar to the previous times I have spoken to this group. I talked about what User Experience Design is, and how it fits in the the agile process. The group seemed quite intrigued about the topic and asked a lot of great questions.

Best of luck to the next graduating class!


IXDA Dallas Portfolio review

Jennifer Blatz UX design IXDA Dallas
IXDA held a portfolio review with students and transitioners in to the UX field.

Due to popular demand, IXDA Dallas recently helps a UX portfolio review. Having been a person who had to enter the UX field mid career, I know the value of getting advice and feedback on my portfolio from peers and professionals.

Though we had a lower turn out than expected – typical of any free meetup – I would still hail the night as a grand success. We had nearly 10 lead designers who paired up with students who are graduating soon and professionals interested in transitioning into the field of User Experience Design. The only requirement was that the mentee bring a portfolio to go over – no matter how rough or under developed.

As one of the IXDA leaders, I was the designated floater and social media promoter. Some of the feedback I heard while floating around included:

  • Show your process
  • Explain the problem you were trying to solve
  • Include your name and contact information on every slide
  • Don’t apologize for your portfolio
  • If you are transitioning from graphic design, omit branding and print design examples
  • Don’t just show the final resolution mock up, include all of the rough sketches and interim designs to help tell your story.
  • And on that note, tell your story!
Jennifer Blatz UX design IXDA Dallas
Mentors gave very practical and applicable advice on how the mentees can improve their UX portfolio.

An event like this is mutually beneficial for those who are seeking feedback and for those who are giving advice. That’s the wonderful aspect of the UX community: giving back and helping others. We all have so much to learn from each other. Whether you are a seasoned UX designer, or a student ready to break in to the field,  events like this provide strength, opportunity for growth and encouragement for all parties involved.