Benjamin Earl Evans‘ ‘How to avoid UX burnout‘ is a departure from our recent case study picks, focusing not so much on the tangible results of a project, but rather how creating those results affected the practitioner.
Evans’ establishes early on that he regards ‘burnout’ as being distinct from ‘creative block’. I am inclined to agree with his assertion that the former is a temporary feeling of fatigue resulting from an intensity of effort, which may still be attended by an overwhelming number of thoughts and ideas. Creative block, while linked, is characterised by an absence of ideas.
In searching for the source of his own burnout, he points to a quote from the designer Neville Brody:
“Digital design is like painting, except the ink never dries.”
It serves as a reminder that, for many – especially in-house teams – there is no such thing as ‘done’ in a user experience project. Unlike other creative endeavours, which are journeys with defined start and end points, digital user experience must be constantly iterated and refined to remain relevant. It is an exhausting thought, akin to beginning a never ending session on a treadmill.
Evans recognises that the specific type of empathy so important to user experience work can be especially intense for the practitioner. He goes on to provide practical advice on scheduling, allowing time for reflection and giving up on unhelpful notions of perfection.
There are 6 specific causes of UX burnout detailed in Evans’ work and he provides recommendations on how to overcome all of them. A thoughtful and useful contribution to the community, which turns a somewhat negative personal experience into a positive by sharing it with peers.
For further exploration
- Benjamin Earl Evans’ ‘How to avoid UX burnout‘
- ‘User research, what next?‘, an essay published as a MEX/16 provocation
- Rory Southworth’s series for MEX entitled ‘Intro to user research in 4 videos: better interviews to generative techniques‘