Published February 15, 2024

Unlock Your Team’s Potential with Undervalued UX Design Skills and Continuous Discovery

14 min read

Let’s dive into the underrated UX skills that can level up your team. 

Inspired by Marina Krutchinsky‘s list of underrated UX skills, we compiled a list demonstrating how continuous discovery can enhance your team’s underrated UX skills. By prioritizing customer and user needs, we shift the focus in reviews and meetings away from the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” (HiPPO) and towards more user-centered discussions.

Continuous discovery levels up your team’s UX skills

From ensuring seamless communication to fostering inclusive design, we’ll explore how to enhance your team’s UX arsenal. By embracing these unsung skills, we can answer “How do I improve my team’s UX skills?” and transform the user experience from ordinary to extraordinary.

I recently shared a post on why regularly bringing in customer feedback is good. At the heart of discovery is customer learning through consistent and repetitive user feedback loops.

“Over my career, I’ve learned that the most effective way to enhance your team’s skills is to stop managing and increase the speed at which they receive feedback from customers. Encouraging your team to level up their work based on direct customer feedback creates an environment conducive to a growth mindset.”

Avatar of the person that wrote the post

 Bryan Zmijewski

CEO & Founder, ZURB.

There’s no better way to level up the skills of your team.


1. A structured series of steps or activities helps employees connect their learnings weekly.  It fosters team unity by encouraging the sharing of knowledge.

2. Regular and thorough practice builds upon previous knowledge, making each week’s lessons applicable to similar scenarios. The approach tailors the learning to meet customer needs.

3. Immediate and clear feedback quickly shows whether an action is right or wrong. This clarity in learning boosts confidence. It also creates an atmosphere of responsibility and promotes self-motivation.

Continuous Discovery elevates your teams ability to execute on a product.

By embracing these principles, a UX team can ensure that their skills are not just current but also deeply rooted in the real-world experiences of their users.

In the following sections, we will dive into how your team can further develop these skills, ensuring they are well-equipped to design exceptional digital experiences.

Understanding Basic UX Design Skills

Before we branch out into the undervalued UX skills, let’s dive into the basic UX skills. Understanding these basic skills goes beyond recognizing the need for good design; it’s about comprehending the full spectrum of practices and processes that facilitate the creation of products that are not just usable but delightful and intuitive.

UX skills encompass a broad range of competencies, from the technical know-how of user interface design to the soft skills required to conduct user research and understand consumer behavior. These skills are about empathy as much as they are about analytics, and design as much as about psychology.

Core UX Skills

Here are some key aspects that underpin UX skills:

  • UX Design Principles: These are the foundational concepts that guide the creation of user-friendly designs, including simplicity, consistency, and the visibility of system status.
  • User Research Techniques: This involves methods to understand the user, such as interviews, surveys, and usability testing, which help to uncover the user’s needs, behaviors, and motivations.
  • Interaction Design: The crafting of the interaction between users and products, focusing on creating engaging interfaces with well-thought-out behaviors.
  • Information Architecture: The structural design of shared information environments to support usability and findability.
  • Prototyping and Wireframing: These skills involve bringing ideas to life through creating mockups and models for testing and iteration.
  • Accessibility Standards: Ensuring that products are usable by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities is ethical and a legal necessity in many cases.
  • Agile UX Methodologies: Integrating UX design into agile development processes for iterative and collaborative creation.

The user’s needs, behaviors, frustrations, and delights are at the core of all these skills. UX professionals must be adept at translating user data into actionable insights that drive design decisions. In doing so, they often rely on continuous discovery processes, where customer feedback and user needs lead the way in iterative design cycles.

The Underrated UX Skills You Need to Know

In user experience design, the spotlight often highlights the more obvious skills, such as proficient design, expert wireframing, and thorough user research. However, the true craftsmanship lies in the nuanced, less-heralded skills that distinguish a good UX team from a great one.

This section unearths these underrated skills that can catalyze your team’s UX aptitude to new heights.

UX Skills pair with Continuous Discovery.

Getting Everyone on the Same Page

Continuous Discovery: It begins with embedding a culture of continuous discovery within your team, which involves constantly gathering aggregated user feedback and testing results, and then integrating these insights into the team’s DNA. Consequently, when everyone understands user needs in-depth, alignment occurs naturally. As a result, data-driven user personas and journey maps become your team’s north star, guiding every decision and design.

Helio Example

From the outset of each project, our Helio services teams commence by collecting data through an audience behavior survey. Subsequently, reviewing these insights with the team is an excellent strategy to align their thinking with the customer’s perspective.

For instance, Banko conducted a user behavior test to gauge participants’ attitudes toward Virtual Assistants. This approach provides a solid base to unify the team’s focus.

Behavior Testing can empower continuous discovery.

Measurement: How can you determine if you’ve achieved this alignment? Firstly, look for signs of consensus in team meetings. Next, check whether product roadmaps resonate with user feedback. Finally, collect and actively use user feedback to inform your product strategy.

Making Everyone Feel at Ease

Ease of Use: A pivotal but often overlooked UX skill is making complex systems feel intuitive. Your team can identify and smooth friction points by analyzing customer satisfaction and usability tests. It’s about making the complex seem simple and ensuring the user feels confident and at ease at every touchpoint.

Helio Example

Asking participants if they are satisfied with an approach serves as a good starting point, but we aim to delve deeper into their reasons.

To achieve this, the Net Positive Alignment (NPA) score is used, which includes a multiple-choice question featuring four negative and four positive options, allowing us to gain a more nuanced understanding of participants’ feelings. For instance, Banko used this method to pinpoint which current screens evoke positive or negative sentiments.

Sentiment Analysis gives us evidence that drives continuous discovery decisions.

The survey data on the “One-touch Log on” feature for mobile banking, emphasizing Touch ID for streamlined login, provides a compelling example of enhancing user experience by simplifying complex systems. This approach aligns with the crucial UX skill of making intricate interfaces intuitive, boosting user confidence and comfort. 

The survey, which involved a question on users’ feelings towards this feature and allowed them to express a range of emotions, revealed that Trust and Joy were the predominant reactions. Based on 102 participants who could select multiple emotions, this positive feedback underscores the effectiveness of analyzing customer satisfaction and usability tests. 

Usability testing supports  hunches for for discovery.

By smoothing out friction points, as demonstrated with the “One-touch Log on” feature, UX teams can create more user-friendly environments that make everyone feel at ease, illustrating the importance of transforming complexity into simplicity for a better user experience.

Here’s the Helio report link.

User Satisfaction: The success of this approach is reflected in improvements in user satisfaction scores and a reduction in customer support tickets. It indicates that the product works and feels right to the user.

Cutting Through Complexity

Simplicity in Design: In a world cluttered with features, cutting through the noise and simplifying your product is a rare skill. By utilizing metrics like success rates, click maps and observing user behavior, your team can strip away the unnecessary and focus on what truly matters to the user.

Helio Example

The interaction matrix is an effective tool for monitoring user actions on the screen, adapting to design changes. We can pinpoint crucial design areas needing improvement by observing where users click. For instance, Banko pinpointed issues with the ‘search for Credit Building Tips’ call-to-action (CTA) label, noting that each redesign inadvertently reduced its usability.

Click Maps showcase user understanding of how to navigate the platform.

The interaction matrix for Banko demonstrates a practical application of simplifying the design to cut through complexity. By leveraging metrics such as task success rates and monitoring user clicks, the team can discern which design elements streamline the user experience and which add unnecessary complications. 

Interaction Matrix empowers us to make decisions based on user understanding.

For instance, the matrix shows how various iterations affect user interactions, with particular attention to the ‘search for Credit Building Tips’ CTA. The data suggests a need to maintain clarity and consistency in CTAs, ensuring the design remains focused and user-centric. This approach allows designers to eliminate superfluous features and prioritize functionality that aligns with user needs, embodying the rare skill of creating simplicity within a cluttered feature landscape.

Here’s the Helio report link.

Task Completion: Increased task completion rates and positive user feedback on ease of use are tangible measures of success in this endeavor.

By incorporating these underrated UX skills into your team’s repertoire, you’re not just designing for users; you’re crafting experiences that resonate on a deeper level. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into these skills, providing you with actionable steps to integrate them into your team’s workflow and create a UX that functions and delights.

Guiding Without Dictating

Empowering Decision-Making: A UX team’s ability to guide without imposing is pivotal in crafting a user experience that’s not only functional but also empowering. By utilizing concept testing data, your team can provide insights that help the rest of the team understand how users explore and interact with your product. This skill is about presenting data and insights in a way that informs product decisions without limiting the creative and analytical potential of the team.

Helio Example

Banko used participants’ sentiment and comprehension metrics to see which homepage copy resonated the best. 

Message Testing lets us know our language is on the right track for user understanding.

The analysis from Banko’s advertisement versions showcases the UX team’s capability to guide without dictating, a key aspect of empowering decision-making in product development. The team gathered nuanced insights on how users comprehend and emotionally react to Banko’s messaging by examining participant responses to different messaging strategies. For example:

  • Version 1 (V1) demonstrated a high level of engagement and positive sentiment, indicating that a message of inclusivity and happiness could resonate well with users.
  • Version 2 (V2), while clear and straightforward, did not evoke as strong an emotional response, suggesting that simplicity alone may not be sufficient.
  • Version 3 (V3), like V1, achieved a high net positive alignment, indicating the effectiveness of focusing on practical benefits like building credit.

By presenting these findings, the UX team can influence the direction of the product’s messaging by highlighting what users prefer and respond to, without restricting the creative freedom of the product team. They can use this data to guide the team towards decisions that will likely enhance user satisfaction and engagement while still allowing room for innovation and diverse approaches in the final execution.

Engagement Metrics: The success of guiding without dictating is measured by higher user engagement metrics reflecting an improved user experience. Feedback on user metrics and satisfaction with the decision-making process are also crucial. Satisfaction naturally increases when users feel empowered and their feedback is incorporated into the product.

Crafting Stories That Stick

Narrative Design: Compelling storytelling, a cornerstone of impactful UX, skillfully intertwines gathering qualitative feedback with identifying emotional touchpoints that resonate deeply with users. Consequently, by weaving these insights into your product’s narrative, you can craft internal reviews and user education materials that profoundly stick with your audience, ensuring a memorable impact long after their interaction with your product.

Helio Example

The Opportunity Index slide from Banko serves as a strategic tool for guiding team discussions by identifying and prioritizing potential areas for product development. It’s a collaborative process to form and validate hypotheses with the team and audience. 

The slide outlines a structured approach:

  • Collaborating with the team to pinpoint opportunities for exploration.
  • Ranking these opportunities from three critical perspectives: Business Impact, User Value, and Technical Feasibility.
  • Developing both short-term and long-term strategies for exploring and implementing these opportunities.
Opportunity index allows us to build long term and short term strategies.

Integrating this storytelling into product narratives allows the UX team to craft compelling internal reviews and user education materials. Grounded in user emotions and reinforced by data, these stories are more likely to be remembered and appreciated, ensuring the product narrative leaves a lasting impact on the audience.

Meeting Engagement: You’ll know you’ve mastered this skill when you see increased engagement rates in meetings and when team members recall and recognize the narratives in follow-up actions. When stories resonate, they don’t just inform — they inspire and motivate.

Always Asking “What If?”

Innovative Testing: Innovation in UX doesn’t occur by chance; rather, it emerges from a relentless questioning of the status quo. Consequently, implementing hypothesis-driven testing to explore new features or designs ensures the product continuously evolves and the team remains adaptable. By consistently asking “what if,” your team stays ahead of the curve and is well-prepared to embrace new UX challenges.

Helio Example

The Banko Opportunity Index is a strategic tool to assess and prioritize project opportunities, assigning ratings from 0 to 5 across business, user, and technical dimensions. This method provides a comprehensive view of each opportunity’s potential impact and feasibility.

Opportunity Index makes it easy for us to determine impact and feasibility.

To embody the innovative testing spirit of “What If?”, this index can be applied to hypothesize different scenarios and test user sentiment towards potential innovations. By evaluating opportunities such as ‘Quick ID – Address Verification’, ‘Pre-Overdraft Notifications’, and ‘Instant Credit Card Approvals’, the UX team can explore how these ideas might improve the user experience. Each opportunity is critically examined for its current value and potential to revolutionize the product.

impression filters make it so that we can assess current value.

The index reflects a proactive approach to innovation, where sentiment analysis and empirical data combine to challenge existing solutions. It’s a testament to a forward-thinking mindset, where the UX team is not content with the present but is always probing the possibilities of the future, ensuring that the product meets the present needs and is poised to adapt to future demands and opportunities.

Here’s the Helio report link that showcases how each opportunity is evaluated.

Idea Implementation: The metric for success here is the number of new ideas generated and the rate at which these ideas are implemented. User feedback on innovations further informs the team whether their “what if” questions lead the product in the right direction.

Thinking Inclusively

Accessibility and Diversity: In today’s global marketplace, thinking inclusively is not just nice to have but a necessity. Analyzing demographic data and feedback from diverse user groups can enhance your product’s accessibility and inclusivity. UX skills that cater to a broad spectrum of users are essential for creating products that truly serve everyone.

Helio Example

The Audience Definition document is critical for ensuring inclusivity in UX design. It details the demographics, behaviors, psychographics, and segments of different user groups, such as ‘The Low Income Earner’, ‘The Experienced User’, and ‘The Thrifty Evaluator’. By tracking panel sizes, market sizes, and other key demographics, UX teams can better understand and cater to each segment’s unique needs and preferences.

Audience Definitions allow us to cater to the unique needs and preferences of each segment.

This approach is essential in a global marketplace that values accessibility and diversity. By analyzing such detailed demographic data and feedback from a variety of user groups, UX practitioners can develop a product that is accessible and inclusive, addressing the nuances of different users. It helps in identifying barriers that may prevent certain user groups from fully engaging with the product and guides the design of features that are universally accessible. This inclusive thinking is vital for creating products that are not only usable by everyone but also resonate on a personal level with diverse audiences worldwide.

Diversity Metrics: The effectiveness of inclusive thinking is notably reflected in the diversity of user testing groups and the positive feedback on inclusivity. Representation in product design transcends mere compliance with standards—it embodies a deep understanding and appreciation for the diverse experiences of all users.

Furthermore, by nurturing these underrated UX skills, your team will not only enhance their existing competencies but also uncover novel ways to engage with users and deliver exceptional experiences. In the forthcoming sections, we will explore how to integrate these skills into your team’s daily practices, guaranteeing that each team member contributes to a more comprehensive, user-centric product design.

Tools and Resources for UX Skill Enhancement

To truly refine the UX skills of your team, it’s vital to be equipped with the right tools and resources. In this section, we’ll explore a curated selection of tools and resources that can significantly enhance your team’s UX capabilities.

Tools to Enhance UX Skills

Prototyping and Wireframing: Obvious tools like Figma offer robust features for creating high-fidelity prototypes and wireframes. These platforms help visualize ideas and test and iterate designs based on user feedback.

User Research: Platforms such as UserTesting, LogRocket, and Helio can be pivotal in gathering user insights. They provide a range of options for remote testing, allowing teams to observe how users interact with their products in real-time.

Collaboration and Workflow: Tools like Miro and Trello are essential for maintaining clear communication and organization of workflow. These tools can help teams align on UX goals and keep track of progress.

Analytics and Feedback: Google Analytics, Hotjar, and Crazy Egg can help teams understand user behavior through heatmaps, click tracking, and user journey analysis. This data is crucial for making informed UX decisions.

Resources for Learning and Development

Online Courses: Websites like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer comprehensive courses on various UX topics, from the basics to advanced concepts. Industry experts often create these courses and provide valuable practical knowledge.

Books and Ebooks: Titles such as “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug and “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman are must-reads for any UX professional. These books offer foundational insights into user behavior and design principles.

Workshops and Webinars: Regular participation in workshops and webinars conducted by UX thought leaders can provide your team with cutting-edge insights and practical techniques that can be applied to your projects.

Community and Networking: Joining UX communities like the Interaction Design Foundation or local meetups can benefit networking and staying updated on the latest trends and best practices.

By leveraging these tools and resources, your team can continuously improve their UX skills, stay ahead of industry trends, and deliver products that delight and engage users. In the following sections, we’ll dive into practical steps to implement these tools and resources into your team’s daily routine to foster an environment of ongoing learning and skill enhancement.

Using Continuous Discovery to Level up Underrated UX Skills

Embarking on the journey to refine your team’s UX skills is more than a commitment to professional development; it’s a commitment to excellence in crafting experiences that resonate with users. The underrated UX skills we’ve explored are not just tools in a designer’s kit; they are the compass that guides teams toward creating products that truly understand and fulfill user needs.

We’ve seen how continuous discovery can transform your approach, aligning every decision with user feedback and creating a culture of growth and adaptability. It’s about moving beyond the confines of the HiPPO model and embracing a process where user insights lead the way. As Marina Krutchinsky highlights, when honed and applied, these underrated skills can propel your team’s work from good to exceptional.

Enhancing UX skills is an ongoing process

Enhancing UX skills is an ongoing process that greatly benefits from customer insights gathered through consistent and repetitive user feedback loops. Consequently, by fostering an environment that systematically structures learning, customizes it to meet customer needs, and reinforces it with immediate feedback, you lay the groundwork for a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

Have you noticed the shift in your team’s dynamics when user feedback becomes the cornerstone of your reviews and meetings? We encourage you to strive for this shift that doesn’t just change how you work and elevate the experiences you create.

Let’s reiterate the call to action: Firstly, assess your team’s UX skills with a critical eye, identify areas for improvement, and commit to a path of continuous learning and growth. Secondly, the shared tools and resources and inspiration from already successful teams equip you well to enhance your team’s UX prowess. Now is the perfect time to start, and benefits await your claim. Lastly, remember, in the world of UX, it’s not just about making things look good—it’s about making them work beautifully for everyone.

Underrated UX Skills FAQ

What are underrated UX skills and why are they important?
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Underrated UX skills, such as getting everyone on the same page and making complex systems feel intuitive, are crucial because they create a seamless user experience and encourage a user-centered approach to product development. These skills help teams align on user needs and foster inclusive and accessible design, which can be more effective than relying solely on creativity.

How can continuous discovery improve our UX team’s skills?
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Continuous discovery improves UX skills by incorporating regular customer feedback into the design process, which helps in making informed decisions that are more aligned with user needs. This approach ensures that the team’s skills are continuously updated and adapted to real-world user feedback, leading to better product design and user experience.

Why should we move away from the HiPPO approach in UX design?
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Moving away from the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) approach leads to a more democratic and user-focused design process. It ensures that decisions are made based on actual user data and feedback rather than the influence of higher-ups, which can enhance the relevance and success of the design outcomes.

What basic UX design skills should my team possess?
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A UX team should have a grasp of core skills such as UX design principles, user research techniques, interaction design, information architecture, prototyping and wireframing, understanding accessibility standards, and applying agile UX methodologies. These foundational skills are essential for creating user-friendly and engaging designs.

Can you provide examples of how teams have excelled in UX skills through continuous discovery?
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Yes, teams have excelled by embedding continuous discovery into their workflow, which led to increased user engagement and reduced design revisions. For instance, an e-commerce platform reduced checkout abandonment by simplifying its process based on user feedback, demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach.

What resources can help enhance my team’s UX skills?
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To enhance your team’s UX skills, consider using tools like Figma for prototyping, platforms like UserTesting for user research, collaboration tools like Miro, and analytics tools like Google Analytics. Additionally, investing in online courses, reading foundational UX books, attending workshops, and joining UX communities can provide valuable learning opportunities.

How can we measure the success of implementing underrated UX skills?
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The success of implementing underrated UX skills can be measured through various metrics such as user engagement, task completion rates, user satisfaction scores, and reductions in customer support tickets. Observing improvements in these areas can indicate that the UX skills are effectively contributing to a better user experience.

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