Mindfulness is a modern practice with roots tracing back to early Buddhism. It is a form of meditation in which you focus solely on your breathing but make note, in a non-judgmental way, when your mind begins to wander. Practicing mindfulness has been said to reduce stress, as well as provide better focus and clarity overall.
One of the beautiful components of mindfulness is that even though it is a very simple practice, it can have broad applications.
Even in the UX design process, practicing mindfulness can yield important results.
Paying Attention to Our Own Biases
Among the important precepts that mindfulness teaches, the most prominent one is to be open to ourselves and to the world around us.
This plays an integral function throughout the UX design process.
Before designing a website or mobile app, you may have a preconceived notion about what it should look like or how it should function. In reality, your biggest challenge may be working around your own biases.
Mindfulness will enable you to not only listen to what others are saying, but to actually hear what they’re saying as well. As a result, you are then able to bring those voices and opinions to the design table (even if they differ from what you may think is best at the time).
Empathy’s Role in User Testing
Another important teaching of mindfulness is to have empathy and compassion for all. A clear link can be made between this teaching and the significance of user testing as this part of the process lets the researchers see how real people actually interact with their designs.
The goal of any UX designer is to create a product where a user can seamlessly accomplish their goal.
For this reason, having empathy for all involved in the user testing phase helps both the designers and researchers remove their own biases from a project, trust in the results of their user testing and create new iterations that will take the results of their tests into account.
Focus Through Each Step
As stated previously, practicing mindfulness has also been said to improve focus. This is integral for the UX design process.
There are many fluid parts to UX design —from the initial ideation of a concept, various design stages, user testing, development, metric analysis and, not to mention, the potentially limitless number of iterations that can be spawned from trying and retrying different ideas and concepts.
In order to continuously focus and move forward through each step without forgetting what you’re trying to accomplish, think of the UX process as a practice in mindfulness.
Take Note When the User’s Attention Lapses
A well-designed mobile app or website will enable users to navigate it intuitively—almost in the same way that breathing is an involuntary muscle action.
It is important for UX designers to understand how and why users are able to continue throughout their design without interruption. Conversely, when users are distracted—much like in mindfulness meditation—user experience testers must make note of where and when this is happening.
These moments in which users’ attention lapses are more likely to be the moments when they leave your site, decline to make a purchase, or uninstall your app.
A UX designer practicing mindfulness will not try to claim there is anything wrong with the user’s broken attention (remember, a cornerstone of mindfulness is ‘no judgment’) or inability to complete their task but that instead, there must be a design change that can be made to encourage the user to stick with it.
We all have the ability to train our minds to be better at focus and empathy and in turn, work those virtues into our UX design process. By practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, we are consciously taking a step back from our projects at hand, allowing our minds to relax and insight to reach us.