How do you get fast?

28 Mar 2012 - 5:59am
2 years ago
7 replies
1475 reads

Hi everyone, I have a simple question:

How do you get (and stay) fast?

I'm imagining many of us need to work under strict deadlines and budgets, and of course keeping within the boundaries of those budgets is an important quality of the work we do. So what are your tricks? How do you manage estimations, planning, and generally how do you get really fast at what you do? I'm interested in everything from tricks with the tools to how you go through the day, to how you plan your time in a project. 

Looking forward to awesome answers!


28 Mar 2012 - 2:09pm
Angel Anderson

This is a problem that we all face. We're asked to move faster and faster but it takes time to create things that serve people's goals and fit into a brand's ecosystem in an impactful way. I work as a UX director at a full-service agency where we deal with this on multiple fronts with many clients all at once. I've come to realize that the most important thing is prioritizing so that you focus what time and resources you have on the things that truely matter. 

I recently gave a talk at SXSW on exactly this topic. You can see the slides here:

Hope that helps :)

30 Mar 2012 - 9:33am

Learn to recognize the signs of being stuck. The sooner you realize you're spinning your wheels on a solution that isn't getting you where you need to be, the sooner you can back out, reframe the problem, and start on a new idea. Keep your work as low-fi and disposable as long as possible. Stay away from the computer.

2 Apr 2012 - 3:50pm
Jeremy Kriegel

Tailor your process to your problem. Of all the activities available to you, which ones are the most important to the problem you are trying to solve? Within each activity, what pieces will have the greatest contribution? Tailor your process to your problem and you'll be streamlining your work.

2 Apr 2012 - 3:53pm
Jeremy Kriegel

[dupe removed]

2 Apr 2012 - 3:54pm
Jeremy Kriegel

[dupe removed]

2 Apr 2012 - 3:53pm
Jeremy Kriegel

Why did this show up 3x? And why can't I delete my own post? 


3 Apr 2012 - 8:51am


1.       Become an absolute expert in how to use your tools. Folks should be calling you the “Visio Wiz” or “King of Axure” or whatever tool set you use. If another UX/IXD guy hasn’t said to you, “You can do that with <tooll x>!?” you’re not expert enough yet.

2.       Listen, learn, remember and apply. While each project is unique and every client has a specific problem, there are almost always a large number of fairly common business aspects.  People are people and you can generalize from past research how to design for any particular Persona. You apply knowledge from previous projects to the current to save time. You cannot do this in a facile manner – you still have to analyze the problem at hand, but it provides time-saving context.

3.       Build a library of UI components and interaction patterns. Do you have to design a log-in screen from scratch every time? I don’t think so. If you can think a problem through once and leverage it many times that’s how you get fast. A Creative Director once told me that, “If this audience hasn’t seen it, then its original!” He wasn’t talking plagiarism but thoughtful reuse of a good idea.

4.       Do what Jeremy said – adjust your process and deliverables to the project. Don’t do more than is necessary. Ask yourself what is the information the audience(s) of your deliverables need to do their jobs. The client needs to know if it will do the things they need it to do. The designer needs to know what to design. The developers need to know what to build. The QA testers need to know the success criteria. If you can do that and get sign-offs using lipstick on a napkin over drinks, or with a marker on a whiteboard instead of laying waste to a Canadian pine forest then you are getting fast. What work product you produce should 'satisfice' the needs of the specific project team. If the build partner is sitting next to you you don't have to provide as detailed documentation as you would to an external build partner.

5.       Research is great, but don’t research what you already know.

6.       Like getting to Carnegie Hall, “Practice, practice, practice.”


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