For a long time, I only worked on-site, which means from an office, and before Covid that was everyday life for many of us. Almost no one thought about changing or even working completely remotely (how crazy that thought seemed). But I got the chance to work partially remotely back in 2017 and loved every day I spent in my home office. I finally had the peace I needed and could save myself two hours of commuting per day.
Since 2020, I can almost count the days I’ve spent in an office on two hands and I see no reason to change that. When working as a product designer, it is often said that face-to-face interactions on-site, in workshops, etc. are extremely important and that this cannot be done remotely. However, I believe that working as a remote UX designer depends on HOW you do it to be successful in your job and as a team, and I’m sure many internationally distributed teams would agree with me on this point.
What is remote UX design?
Remote UX design is when you as a UX designer do your work from a remote location, using digital tools and communication technologies to collaborate with your team members and stakeholders who may be located in different geographic locations.
The main advantage of remote UX design is that it allows you as a designer to work with an international team from different locations, without being constrained by geography. Remote design teams are also able to work asynchronously and therefore give more freedom to everyone in their daily life and at the same time collaborate very quickly.
However, remote UX design also comes with some challenges, such as the need to establish clear communication and collaboration methods, and the potential for miscommunication and misunderstanding due to cultural or language differences. To overcome these challenges, you as a remote UX designer must be able to communicate clearly and build strong working relationships with your team members and stakeholders.
Let’s go through some of the most important parts of your work as a UX designer and see how you could do the best remote UX design work, every day.
Ideation and collaboration
UX ideation sessions are collaborative brainstorming sessions that bring together individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives to generate ideas for improving the user experience (UX) of a product or service. The goal of UX ideation sessions is to generate a large number of diverse ideas that can be evaluated and refined to create a better user experience.
You can use many different techniques to collaborate and ideate together. Just a few of them are:
The choice of method depends on the specific goals and context of the project, as well as the preferences and skills of the participants.
All of these methods can be done remotely by using video conferencing and online collaboration and white boarding tools like Miro or FigJam.
Remote user research
Remote UX research methods are techniques used to gather feedback and insights from your users without forcing them to come to a specific place in person which provides several advantages:
The most common remote UX research methods are:
- Online surveys
Online surveys are a cost-effective way to gather large amounts of data from a large number of participants. Surveys can be conducted using online survey tools like SurveyMonkey, Typeform, or Google Forms. The best thing about using these tools is that they often have already included great working analytics functionality to represent the collected data in a meaningful way.
- Remote interviews
Remote interviews can be conducted using video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet. These interviews can be moderated or unmoderated and can help researchers gain insights into users› opinions, behaviors, and attitudes. If you conduct remote user interviews make sure to be prepared with questions and a clear idea of how the interview should evolve.
- Usability testing
Remote usability testing involves having participants interact with a digital product or prototype while being observed remotely. Remote usability testing can be conducted using online platforms such as UserTesting or UserZoom, which gives the users freedom in when they do the testing as they can do it on their own. Another possibility is to share a clickable prototype, e. g. done in Figma, with users, give them a task they should solve, and observe how they are doing. This way of user testing needs a little bit more planning as you have to meet for a video call but on the other hand, it can reduce your tool license costs.
- Card sorting
Remote card sorting involves participants organizing digital content into categories. This can be done using online tools like Optimal Workshop or simply in a FigJam or any other white boarding tool.
- Remote diary studies
Remote diary studies involve participants recording their experiences using a product or service over an extended period. This can be done using online tools like Loom or simple speech and screen recording.
- A/B testing
A/B testing involves presenting two variations of a digital product or service to users and measuring which one performs better.
Remote UX research methods can be a cost-effective and efficient way to gather feedback and insights from users who are located in different geographic locations. Choosing the right method will depend on your research goals and the resources available to you.
Communication and showing progress
When working remotely, it’s important to regularly communicate your progress to your team to ensure everyone is on the same page and to gather important feedback during designing new stuff.
To communicate the progress you can use online collaboration tools like Jira, Monday, or ClickUp. These help you to keep track of tasks and give others the possibility to see where a project is standing at the moment. Linking the most important part from for example your Figma file helps your team to get fast access to related designs.
If you want to show more detail on what you’ve worked on, a UX showcase can be a good solution for you. A UX showcase is dedicated to a specific topic you’re currently working on and that you would like to share with your team. Therefore you prepare a walkthrough of your work which you show to your team in a video conference. Having teams spread over different time zones or giving people the freedom to choose when they would like to see the showcase you also can record a video showing your walkthrough using tools like Loom or the built-in screen recorder of ClickUp for example.
A step further would be to, next to the video, also share your design work on a white boarding file, like FigJam, and invite your team to give feedback via comments on that whiteboard.
By regularly communicating your progress to your remote team, you can ensure everyone is aware of your progress, aligned on goals and expectations, and able to provide feedback and support when needed.
Remote UX design work
There are several aspects when UX designers work fully remotely:
- Communication is key for remote UX designers. You must rely on digital tools to communicate with your team members and stakeholders, which can sometimes be challenging. As such, you need to train your communication skills to be able to convey complex ideas clearly and effectively.
- For some people, collaboration can be more challenging when working remotely. As a remote working UX designer, you should be used to collaborating with your team members across different time zones and locations.
- Train your technical skills and make yourself familiar with digital tools and platforms used in remote work environments. They need to be able to troubleshoot technical issues and ensure they have a reliable internet connection.
- Empathy is a critical component of UX design. As a remote UX designer, you need to be able to understand and empathize with users, even though they are not physically present. This requires a deep understanding of user needs and behaviors, as well as the ability to conduct remote research and testing.
- At least remote UX designers need to be flexible and adaptable. Sometimes things go wrong and do not work the way we expected. Working remotely also means having backup solutions for example if your internet connection at home does not work or the place you’re currently at is not perfectly suited for working remotely. Be prepared as well as possible and get creative to find solutions to occurring situations or problems.
Advantages of remote UX Design
There are several advantages to working as a fully remote UX designer:
- Flexibility: Working remotely allows you as a UX designer to work from anywhere with an internet connection. This means you can choose a work environment that suits your preferences and needs, whether that’s from home, a coworking space, or a coffee shop.
- Increased productivity: Often remote work leads to more productivity than working from an office. You are not distracted by office politics, interruptions, or lengthy commutes. This can lead to greater focus and efficiency in your everyday work.
- Improved work-life balance: Remote work can provide you with greater flexibility and autonomy over your work schedule. As a remote team is often spread over different time zones, async working methods get even more important. This can lead to a better work-life balance, which can improve your overall well-being and job satisfaction.
Working remotely as a UX designer is absolutely possible and you can in fact work from anywhere – as long as you have an internet connection. What you should look for is a proper setup for your daily work, a reliable working style, modern tools for collaboration and a lot of (asynchronous) communication. These are the most important foundations for a successful distributed remote team and for you as a remote UX designer.
Where do you prefer to work from? Feel free to let me know!