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Chapter 6
Top 11 UX design challenges in 2023: for team growth or new hires
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Chapter 6

Top 11 UX design challenges in 2023: for team growth or new hires

Every profession has its on-the-job trials and tribulations, and UX design is no exception.

It’s how UX teams and designers adapt to and overcome these challenges that matters—and it often involves proactively identifying and resolving them. Different obstacles have different solutions, but working on design challenges helps create better designers and a stronger design process.

In this chapter, you’ll learn about the common design problems designers face, and some of the online challenges you can set to help them overcome them.

Let’s start with the problems before we consider some solutions.


Common design problems & how to assist designers in overcoming them

“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”

Whether it be from a parent, partner, or friend—we’ve likely all heard this phrase at one point or another. In order to solve problems and overcome challenges, we need to proactively identify them.

Here are some of the major challenges faced by UX designers.

1. UX is often undervalued within an organization

A key issue that designers face is that their work is often undervalued and misunderstood by the wider organization—including upper management and leaders. This can mean that key suggestions and recommendations go ignored, and it can feel like researchers and designers are working for nothing.

It can also affect the UX budget—impacting what the UX team can and can’t do. Without the necessary resources and tools, the UX team is limited in what it can achieve.

The answer? UX advocacy from the UX leader or UX manager. A strong UX leader needs to convince other stakeholders that UX design is essential for data-driven, customer-centric decision-making.

2. Balancing aesthetics, functionality, and accessibility

UX design isn’t just about pretty menus and rounded buttons, it’s about creating an aesthetically pleasing design that does the job. Products, features, and experiences can’t just look good, they need to work well too.

Alongside functionality is the equally important aspect of accessibility—ensuring designs can be used by everybody. It’s essential that designers consider accessibility when creating designs. This includes things like inclusive design, designing for sensory impairments, designing for neurological impairments, and more.

Striking a balance between aesthetics, functionality, and accessibility is a key UX design challenge, but it’s one that must be overcome in order to create effective designs. Failing to create designs that look good and work for everyone negatively impacts the user experience by limiting the efficacy of products and experiences.

By incorporating UX principles that prioritize aesthetics, functionality, and accessibility, designers can ensure that their designs not only look visually appealing but also meet the needs of a diverse user base. Similarly, setting UX OKRs for a team that focus on these design aspects enables the UX team to align their efforts with broader business objectives, driving the development of impactful and user-centered experiences

There are ample resources available to learn about striking this balance, and it’s a UX designer’s job to ensure designs are hitting all three marks.

3. Keeping up to date with design trends

Another major challenge that designers face is that UX design is a fast-evolving industry—norms and best practices change frequently, in line with customer preferences and desires.

Staying up-to-date with these trends is crucial for modern designs that meet current user needs. Alongside user research and feedback, it’s design trends and best practices that often dictate UX design.

It’s important to note, however, that UX designers shouldn’t jump on every single trend that emerges. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a key skill for UX design—don’t just do it because you saw it online. Consider new design trends and their impact on functionality and accessibility—then go from there.

Top 11 UX design challenges for your team or new hire

You know what they say: practice makes perfect.

These Uxcel Challenges help you perfect your UX research and design skills with engaging scenarios based on real-life UX challenges—making for a much more immersive and realistic experience than your standard whiteboard challenge.

You’re given a realistic design scenario and design task, as well as specific instructions, completion criteria, and useful learning resources to help you dive in. You then submit your design on the platform for feedback, where it’s reviewed and marked by an experienced UX professional.

To further enhance their efficiency and effectiveness, designers can seek guidance and mentorship from experienced professionals. Engaging with a mentor allows designers to discuss their design approach, seek advice on tackling specific challenges, and gain valuable insights from someone with industry expertise.
By combining the design challenge experience with mentorship and expert feedback, designers can maximize their learning and development potential, pushing their skills to new heights and honing their craft in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Here are the top 11 design challenges to set your UX team and prospective hires.

Challenge #1: Heuristic Analysis

  • Best for: role of UX researcher
  • Difficulty level: Advanced
  • This challenge helps: UX professionals practice and improve their approach to heuristic analysis and usability research.

This UX challenge involves conducting a heuristic analysis of Libro.fm to demonstrate and practice your user research skills. The challenge tests a designer’s ability to consider how the 10 Usability Heuristics for interaction design have been put into practice—or not—on a live website.

The design task calls for designers to include specific findings, problems they find, and recommendations for improving those problems.


Challenge #2: Design Articulation to Stakeholders

  • Best for: UX researchers, designers, or leaders
  • Difficulty level: Advanced
  • This challenge helps: UX professionals of all levels to more effectively communicate the value of UX to other stakeholders in the organization.

This challenge asks UX professionals to showcase their communication skills and ability to articulate design decisions to stakeholders by conducting a presentation of a pre-designed landing page for an Uber/Lyft competitor. The goal is to address the most critical issues stakeholders may ask about during the design presentation.

Some questions designers are prompted to answer include:

  • What user flows did you consider when designing this landing page?
  • How does this landing page meet the needs of our target audience?
  • How did you prioritize the content and design elements on this landing page?
  • Can you explain the reasoning behind the choice of colors, typography, and layout on this landing page?
  • How does the design of this landing page align with our brand guidelines?

Challenge #3: Wireframe

  • Best for: UX designers
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate
  • This challenge helps: UX designers practice their ability to create wireframes for developing and researching new projects.

This challenge asks UX designers to design a mobile app wireframe for a ‘related videos’ page on Stream TV—a fictional video streaming platform that competes with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. The prompt calls for an innovative approach to the ‘related videos’ page—one that stands out from competitors.

Designers can choose whether to submit a lo-fi or hi-fi wireframe for the project—but they must explain the rationale behind the type and contents of the wireframe.


Challenge #4: User Personas

  • Best for: UX researchers and UX designers
  • Difficulty level: Advanced
  • This challenge helps: get a better understanding of UX research and creating user personas to help build user-centric UX designs.

This challenge involves conducting actual user research in order to create user personas for BeReal—a photo-sharing app that notifies users to take and upload an in-the-moment picture once a day. The challenge requires UX researchers and designers to speak to real people in order to build one user persona.

If more than one persona is identified during research, only one should be developed and submitted for the challenge. Participants can use a persona template, or they can create their own.


Challenge #5: Color Palette

  • Best for: UX designers and UI designers
  • Difficulty level: Beginner
  • This challenge helps: understand how color affects the design and evokes emotions from users.

This challenge requires designers to consider ClickUp’s brand values and principles in order to create a color palette that reflects the brand’s identity. The color palette should represent the product, meet users' expectations, and comply with web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) color contrast ratio requirements.


Challenge #6: Permission Request Wireflow

  • Best for: UX designers
  • Difficulty level: Advanced
  • This challenge helps: UX designers balance business goals, brand voice, and user interests to design a wireflow that optimizes requesting notification permissions.

This challenge puts designers in the shoes of a UX designer working on bringing users back to the Lidl mobile app. The wireflow design focuses on getting users to turn on push notifications to ensure offers, promotions, and news about new stores opening nearby reach the maximum number of relevant users.

It’s up to the participant whether the wireflow is lo-fi or hi-fi—whichever feels most appropriate for the situation. All decisions should be justified when submitting your work.


Challenge #7: Usability Testing

  • Best for: UX researchers and designers
  • Difficulty level: Advanced
  • This challenge helps: verify user research skills by conducting comprehensive usability testing, collecting insights, and providing valuable recommendations.

This challenge involves preparing and conducting usability testing to identify and address usability issues on the RetroTool platform. The challenge requires participants to conduct actual usability research with real-life individuals who’ve expressed interest in similar tools.

The final submission document should contain the tasks and data about each usability test, like what tasks a participant performed, quotes, difficulties, and insights. It should also include recommendations based on the research findings.


Challenge #8: Design Workshop Facilitation

  • Best for: UX researchers and designers
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate
  • This challenge helps: put planning, organization, and UX leadership skills to the test by building a comprehensive workshop facilitation plan.

This challenge asks participants to design a workshop plan for discussing and prioritizing new feature developments for Coffee Meets Bagel, a dating app. The high-level plan should include all the tasks necessary for a successful workshop, as well as details on workshop next steps to turn discussion into action.


Challenge #9: Dark Mode Design

  • Best for: UX designers and UI designers
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate
  • This challenge helps: UX professionals keep up with UX/UI skills and trends and test interactive and visual design skills by designing a mobile UI with dark mode.

This challenge gives participants a comprehensive scenario and task that revolves around designing a recipe-sharing app’s home page in light and dark mode. The scenario outlines how research has discovered that users would prefer to view the app in dark-mode, so it’s the participants' job to make that happen.

Participants must submit a high-fidelity mockup of the home screen—in both light and dark mode—along with explanations of each design decision. 


Challenge #10: Form Accessibility

  • Best for: UX designers
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate
  • This challenge helps: ensure designers understand WCAG requirements in order to design a form accessible for all users, including people with disabilities.

This challenge asks participants to design a payment page for e-commerce that complies with the accessibility standards outlined in the WCAG. The page should include all necessary fields and demonstrate warning, error, and success states in compliance with accessibility standards.


Challenge #11: Content Audit

  • Best for: UX designer and UI designer
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate
  • This challenge helps: develop the skills necessary to conduct a website content audit to optimize a website and improve conversions.

This challenge asks participants to perform a content audit on WayAway, a platform for finding cheap flights and getting cashback on travel bookings. The content audit should consider readability, relevance, findability, brand voice, and topicality—and provide suggestions where standards are not met.

Designers are given a Content Audit Template to carry out and submit the analysis.


Challenge your UX team to be better

Without challenges, your UX team is destined to remain static—not evolving or growing their knowledge or skills. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t conducive to innovative designs.

It’s also doing your UX team a disservice—they deserve professional development opportunities in their roles. Online UX challenges focused on addressing common, real-life problems is one way you can provide value to your UX team.

It’s a win-win, really—your designers develop their skills, which they use to improve their day-to-day UX designs on the UX team.

These challenges not only push designers to think creatively and problem-solve, but they also foster collaboration and team building within the design team. After receiving grades, designers can join design meetings to discuss their results, share feedback, and learn from each other's works. This collaborative environment encourages knowledge sharing, sparks creative discussions, and ultimately elevates the overall expertise and performance of the entire UX team.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one online learning platform for challenging your UX designers, try Uxcel today. The 14-day free trial gives you access to all the lessons, courses, assessments, and—of course—challenges you need to develop the UX researchers and designers on your team.

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