2 min read
Saksham Mendiratta
6 Survival Tools in UX Design

Hey You,

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Today’s topic is very different from my previous newsletters. It’s not a prediction or an execution list. It’s actually a Survival Guide for UX Designers. While there are tonnes of tools, models and directions you could build into UX, I’ve picked the ones that have experientially worked for us, while building both: 0-1 products as well as the 1 to 100 journeys.

Building a new product, feature or platform is hard. Especially if you’re an established product with a core revenue stream validated. It’s usually in the journey from $1mn to $100mn that businesses need to build specific moats to keep the business afloat as well as growing.

And new product feature addition or designing a 0-1 product comes with it’s own set of challenges. Let's dive into some of the survival tools we use as a team, to overcome challenges faced in UX design.

1. Journal Everything:

Well, this isn't a ‘dear diary’ moment. When you're building a product, as a designer or product head, you’re most likely immersed in the mindset of a prospective user of the product. It’s important to practice something called ‘method acting’ all throughout.

I use a bunch of different things to capture what I see & experience throughout the day. While there’s Apple Notes and a dedicated section to document experiences or insights that you stumble upon, I also use my camera. 

Say I walked into Starbucks and I feel there are aspects I felt are more driven to build empathy, I’d click that up and save it to my Journal Folder. Something like this:

What journaling does is three things:

  1. It captures unfiltered conversations, experiences and blink instincts that I stumble upon, throughout the day.
  2. It helps me go through whatever I’ve experienced, in retrospect.
  3. It’s a great way to document and reflect back on how your thinking evolved over time. I also use some of my documentation to publish on social media, bring out in this newsletter or use in conversations with people.
  4. Fracture Test: List down everything you think can lead to product failure. When you’re designing a product, it’s important to build a certain level of backup. It lets you go down to the grass root level of a first time user or even a repeat user and not miss out on the tiny details.
  5. Content: Your content is the storefront of your product. Content isn't just across social channels. Content is at the core of your product, as much as design or UX. The tone of voice used within your website or application is what differentiates you in more ways than one.

Some examples of great content within products are:

While this is still a more mainstream example, content goes as micro as the way your notifications appear. Something that Slack does really well: It’s personalised, warm and inviting.

4. Design Principles: These are fundamental building blocks of your product.

Right when kickstarting the design journey, it’s essential to lay down certain principles that define your design process. They could be keywords like ‘Bold, Efficient & Minimal’ that define your design language. And also certain values or directions like ‘Be clear, intentional and intuitive’.

It’s also important to go deep and define what you mean by each of the terms. Generic words like ‘bold’ or ‘minimal’ can be relatively perceived and hence it’s helpful to draw out certain examples within each of them.

Documenting these design principles as a team, not only help you come back to them in case of a chaos, but also standardise the lens through which you run design or UX decisions.

Design Principles help you avoid multiple iterations of usability testing. Even if user feedback is against one of the principles, you should just ignore and move forward as long as you can abide by the design principles set at the beginning.

5. UX Heuristics: 

As easy as it sounds, most designers overlook these design heuristics. I usually stick to these 10 design heuristics across every design process: 

Every sprint or module in UX, should be run through these principles and eventually you can rely on your muscle memory of these heuristics while scaling products.

6. Draw Your Universe:

May not be applicable across, but drawing the actual universe of your product is immensely helpful to build immersive experiences. Here’s how you do it:

Imagine your product to be a fair where tonnes of things are happening. Start with the entrance to the fair:

What sort of on boarding would you want to build in?

How much time should a user spend on giving in details before entering the fair?

Consider the path of the fair that crosses various attractions to be the user journey. Things that the user will be exposed to, where you plan to build engagement, where would he want to stay and purchase. It’s all part of a love canvas of experiences.

The moment you actually draw this out, it’s possible to stick to the absolute essential elements that form part of the feature stack as well as iron out a clear path form on boarding to referral.

Side Bars: Listing down a more few points, that might further help you streamline your focus in this UX design journey:

  1. Accept the imposter in you: You may not know everything but still enough about the product you’re building. Accepting it keeps apprehensions at bay.
  2. There’s no correct way of doing it: There are multiple ways of designing products. What’s essential is you pick what matters for your product and stick with it as much as possible, until new information comes to light.
  3. Only build for your HXC’s: It’s possible to be swayed away while designing for your customers. It’s wiser to define your HXC (high expectation customer) and build your product just for them.
  4. Start with the user’s ‘why’ and not the businesses’ ‘why’: Most times you would be tempted to think of the business first, it’s revenue streams, retention and what not. But if you can place the user first and build for them, the likelihood of the product being immersive is higher.

Let me know if you'd like to hear more on UX strategies, tools and experiences in my next few editions. I’ll make it a point to dig more into this subject.


Hits & Misses: This is where I list a couple of online businesses that I’ve personally experienced as a customer. Hits is for CX (customer experience) that I absolutely loved. And Misses is about what can be improvised on the CX.

Hits: The Whole Truth: I recently tried my hands on this product. As an avid consumer of energy & protein bars, I am definitely late to the party with this brand. But once I got to it, everything about the product was amazing. I definitely have my picks (cranberry protein bar). While the website definitely has areas of improvement (like it’s bombarded with the same images all throughout and lacks freshness / used cases to start with), the checkout experience is definitely amazing. And so are the products. Worth giving it a shot if you haven’t yet tried this brand out.

Misses: Supr Daily

Building a subscription business is hard. And that too in an unpredictable & diverse market like India, is just impeccably challenging. But it’s within these diversities that you can build for customer engagement & empathy.

Once I’ve placed a subscription request on my Supr Daily app, I’ve constantly been bombarded with messages on whatsapp around: price increase in certain products, inability to deliver certain products (due to stock outage) the next day, spoilage of products after delivery. 

As a customer, I’ve chosen to subscribe for a reason. And if I don't see my requests fulfilled after paying up, I’m more likely to drop out than anyone else. I feel there’s so much scope to build for customer engagement, feedback and positive sentiment around subscriptions with paid users in this product.


Well, that’s it from me on this one. I’ll write in soon with my next edition on another interesting topic. Until then,

With Gratitude,