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Why you shouldn't get obsessed with templates

Published: at 12:00 AM

Years ago I had a problem every time I used a new UX technique, I suffered from lack of template mental lock-out.

Like a writer facing a blank paper, I felt the urgency of having a good template to use as a starting point for my work. Probably I didn’t have enough confidence on my skills, so I relied on finding a good template and filling the gaps in them.

Wrong. I was completely wrong.

Persona template Persona template by Joanne Richardson

No two projects are the same. You’ll always face different constraints, challenges and therefore your outputs should vary. Obviously using always the same template will improve your deliverables, and checking what others have done before is a great source of inspiration. But you don’t need a template to start working.

Imagine you need to create a content matrix. Years ago I’ll look for an Excel template on Google. That’s not the path to follow. You should ask yourself what is the key information you need to capture. Because others use different fields doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong, or your work has less quality. Other people simply have other needs.

And don’t forget to ask your peers and clients about what they need. A clear and honest communication is always a good foundation to build trust. If your development team needs a design specification, ask them to clarify what level of detail they need. What is relevant and what’s superflous. Also check with clients what are you going to deliver. Show them examples. If you agree with them what the outputs are going to be nobody will find an unpleasant surprise at the end of the road.

So next time you feel the urge of finding a template, ask yourself what is the objective of the document, and what information you need to capture in order to fulfil that goal. You’ll find the process much easier and enjoyable that you expect.