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Using UX Principles to Write My Thesis

I’m in the middle of writing my thesis, and it’s daunting. What’s made it bearable, actually, is my UX writing background.


Story

Everything needs to tell a story. When designing a feature, we have to ask ourselves why. Why are we building this? What are we trying to communicate? What is the user trying to do? A thesis, though long, needs a thesis statement to center it.


Figuring out what you’re saying, and why you want to say it, makes an overwhelming task seem a lot more manageable.


Structure

Once you have the why — the foundation — you can start to build the scaffolding. Outlining isn’t a new idea for a thesis, but we often skip that stage in UX. We need to understand the journey, the main points. A piece of text may work well on its own, but not in the grand scheme of the story.


Research

Sometimes we walk into a project thinking we know what to think. Research can show our blind spots. Think you know what your users want? Make sure. Know what the standards are? Double check.


It’s not about doubting yourself; it’s about checking your assumptions. Even experts are sometimes wrong.


Procrastination

Okay…I’m not saying that procrastination is a good thing. But.


Stepping away can be a good thing. That often means walking away from the paper (or flow) to return with fresh eyes. When you come back, unsolvable issues suddenly have a solution; or, maybe you’ll see something wrong (or good!) that you hadn’t noticed before.


Finishing

It’s easy to not see progress. I feel like I’ve made little progress, but my bibliography is five pages long and I’ve got the main points worked out. That’s something.


In UX, even finishing a flow can feel anticlimactic. After all, we’re rarely building physical things. Take time to look back at what you’ve built; it’ll help prevent burn out, and make you better for the next time ‘round.

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