UX Mentorship: The role of UX audits and design reviews

Ward Andrews
By Ward Andrews
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UX audits and design reviews can be difficult to do well, but they’re a key part of an effective UX mentorship program.

We’ve talked about what goes into an effective UX training program, how to approach UX training for teams, and the difference between certifications, bootcamps and training.

Now let’s talk about what is arguably the most important part of any UX skills development program - UX mentorship.

Mentorship can be a hard concept to define in practical terms.

Some mentorships are one-off experiences, often sold as part of a bootcamp, workshop or certification program to help you find a job or internship.

Others are long-term engagements with consistent meetings that grow the relationship between mentor and mentee over time.

At Drawbackwards, we’re biased toward the latter. We believe that the value you get out of a mentorship comes from learning and growing together over the long haul. That’s why we’ve deliberately based our UX training on a mentor-mentee model.

When we offer training to clients, our UX design leaders serve as mentors who are committed to providing tangible insights and guidance based on the development of their mentees.

That’s where UX audits and design reviews come in.

UX product audits help identify areas for improvement.

One of the greatest benefits a mentor can provide is the expertise and experience to spot areas that the mentee doesn’t know are potential trouble spots.

We do most of our training with individuals and teams who have been working on products and services for some time but are unsure of how user friendly the overall experience is.

UX and product audits allow us to evaluate not only what the product or service needs to boost its user experience, but the skills and competencies that the individual or team needs to develop.

The other advantage of an audit is it gives our mentors a real-world case study or example within which to root their recommendations and advice. It’s one thing to talk about a UX competency or skill in theory and a completely different thing to be able to point to a tangible example.

By starting with the product, we’re able to put our training and analysis into context and help clients see what they’ve been missing in their own work.

Design reviews reinforce best practices.

Our design reviews serve a similar purpose to UX product audits, but the difference is in the timing. Mentorship in its most basic form is a constant conversation over time. Design reviews give us a way to structure that conversation with our mentees.

These are recurring conversations that take place as we introduce concepts or ideas, conduct training programs, or work on skills development. We review the design or code that the mentee puts together and offer insights and recommendations that make sure the product is built from top to bottom with best practices.

When working with whole teams, we find that design and code reviews are an effective way to get everybody on the same page through a group conversation. Our mentors come in at key points of the product life cycle to review the design or code with fresh eyes and help the team see things they may have missed.

We bake design reviews into our training programs because they offer opportunities to regularly reinforce concepts in a practical setting and further build on the skills that teams and individuals are trying to develop.

This holds our mentees accountable and allows us to make sure the training is effective and taking hold. If a problem is recurring in the design or code, we know we need to take a different approach in our training to help fix it.

Looking for a UX design mentor? We have a few of those.

Our UX training programs are built around a mentorship model because we know the value of building trust over time far outweighs the perceived cost savings of a quick workshop or one-day training program.

Our mentorships not only reinforce the concepts and skills you want to embed in your teams, but they also give mentees the confidence to try new things and push beyond their comfort zones. This helps create true UX design leaders that will be influencers in your team and across your organization for years to come.

If you’re looking for a few good mentors to take you or your team’s skills to the next level, start a conversation with us about your goals and aspirations.