9 Symptoms of a UX charlatan

How the current market situation is a breeding ground for confusion

It’s undeniable that Martina Mitz has a low tolerance for time wasters, now, and in her past roles. She spends her time working as a UX psychologist after having a background in self-taught web design and a degree in psychology, so she is well-versed in how to spot those who might not be as much of an asset to you and your business as you hoped. Her presentation aims to save you time, money and nerves when it comes to hiring and working with UX ‘people’.

To explain how to spot a charlatan in the industry it’s first important to understand why the industry can be prone to attracting those who will not bring what you want to the arena.

How do we know who is a UX expert these days? Those in the UX space come from different educations, and diverse backgrounds and use multiple methods in their work so it can be hard and time-consuming knowing how to spot charlatans.

The current market situation means the marketplace can be full of:

  • Confused colleagues
  • Disorientated beginners
  • Humongous demand

This hotchpotch of different values becomes the perfect breeding ground for charlatans.

So, how do you spot them? Here are Martina Mitz’s 9 symptoms of a UX charlatan.

  • Only users are important – This type of person will often come from academia and although does very thorough research, doesn’t give the business as much valuable output as you would hope.
  • Do what the business wants – This type of person will focus on delivering what their boss wants but lacks when it comes to critical thinking.
  • The know it all – These are the guys and girls with the big egos and their presence within the team does not inspire healthy debate. They also have a tendency to give solutions before fully understanding the problem.
  • Sweet talk – People like this are the people pleasers who will say all the things that sound right to please those around them without having a strong understanding of what they are saying.
  • Mask it with jargon -These people love using buzzwords and jargon to hide behind and tend to focus more on the ‘what’ than the ‘why’.
  • Pass the ball – Used to describe people who are really good at delegating or ‘passing the ball’ and often struggle to say ‘I don’t know’.
  • UX is in the tools – We all know people who swear by specific industry tools and this can sometimes cloud their vision when it comes to the bigger picture.
  • UX is just digital – People like this can sometimes be too focused on only one touchpoint, for example, the website.
  • I can do that too – These people have often worked in roles alongside UX in the past and think that everything should be easy when perhaps that’s not quite the case.

Do you recognise people on your team with any of these traits?

‘If three or more of these symptoms appear on more than three occasions then you are likely to be dealing with a UX charlatan.’

There are a number of psychological traits that make a good UX designer that you should be looking out for, these include: curiosity, thinking analytically, being critical, empathy, self-reflection and most importantly, being comfortable with dealing with uncertainty.

When approaching problems from a UX point of view you should expect a number of things from designers. Never expect answers straight away. A good designer will always ask questions first before giving solutions. They will always need context or insights before jumping to conclusions. A good designer will know their limits and that collaboration with the rest of the wider team is key. And over and above everything else, they should be able to discuss the bigger picture.

Martina is an engaging speaker who is able to get the audience thinking during her presentation so is a must-watch if you spend time in the UX space. After watching the presentation and gaining insights from this blog post you will think differently about those working around you, as well as be able to save yourself time, money and most importantly your nerves when it comes to building a team that will get the job done.


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