Tips on How to Build a Relationship with Your UX Hero

You might be wondering, what is a UX hero? Well, the answer remains up to you, really. However, when I first got into the field of user experience, frankly, I thought that everyone who was somewhat seasoned in UX was a hero to me. So, instead of searching for the best UX resources, books, or courses out there to broaden my knowledge in the area, I jumped straight into the pool and reached out to you guys and gals who do it best. Yes, you all are my hero.

Now, it’s bound to be that some of you prefer to resort to traditional media to learn about user experience – that’s awesome – soak it all up! But, if you are the shy type or are not sure what methods are efficient in order to approach someone for advice – don’t fret, that’s what I’m here for. In this article, I am going to share some tips and tricks that will help you get in touch with your UX hero.

1. Do not hesitate to approach directly through your favorite social media outlet

In my experience, approaching your hero in a straightforward manner will yield great results – 99% of the time, they will agree to help you out with a question or just have a simple chat with you. The other 1% that doesn’t work out, well, that’s just because of time constraints on their part. Be assertive in your effort to grab their attention.

2. Praise and thank them on any article or project they published that you found valuable

Yes, we all have egos. When was the last time someone reached out to you from out of the blue just to drop a line and say, “hey, I really love your work, thank you for sharing this with the world!” It’s a guarantee that this will make them feel pretty special. Genuinely letting them know that they truly offered you some value will get your foot in the door to talk to them about some issue that might be burning in your brain or heart.

3. Show up at conferences or meetups they are attending

While everything is pretty much social online, there’s nothing like talking to someone face-to-face. It leaves a lasting impression. If your UX hero is in the area at a local meetup or conference, go ahead and attend and approach them. They are there for a reason – to physically be social. Walk on up, introduce yourself, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions or give your personal information to them for future communication.

4. Join in on any discussion they may have started online

The mass majority of my UX heroes are very active online and always sharing information and starting discussions. If they engaged in a discussion or thread that seems interesting to you, join in on the discussion and feel free to add your input. Chances are, you will start to become a hero to them with your knowledge.

Now that you have some insight into how to approach your UX hero and build a relationship with them, I am curious to know what you would ask your UX hero if you could ask them one question. I went ahead and opened up a discussion via LinkedIn and the answers yielded the following:

Nicole Maynard, UX Design Consultant at Stalom Consultant, would like to ask her hero:

How do you know when to continue pushing for the user’s best interest or to let the client make the decision that goes against the research?

What does your work station look like?

Alexandra de Lory, Project and Marketing Coordinator for the Congressional Candidate’s Campign in 17th District of California, would like to ask her hero:

How do you keep your eye (and senses) sharp for your job, so that you can come to work each day with a fresh eye that captures all the subtleties of human behavior and motivation? How do you stay sensitive?

Steve Whetstone, Freelance Designer, would like to ask his hero:

How can UX Design be used as a foundational philosophy principle for guiding social, business, economic and political change for the better? 

In particular I’d like the answer focused on the USA, and how UX Design principles and practice can be implemented at a governmental and public policy level to better make decisions, serve the people and enhance the prosperity of the nation?

Poonam Sharma, UI Designer at Voice Systems Engineering, would like to ask her hero:

Is there any point when business takes over user? And you as a user design person switch gears and try to make things more profitable for business?

With these tips, questions, and urgency evident from those who are listed above, I hope you may take inspiration from this and pursue more meaningful relationships, which will not only create a rich experience for you, but develop your career in UX as well.