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We had a client visit the other day. Everything was planned to perfection. The highlight of the day, the deal clincher to be, was the session with the UX team for a complete walkthrough of the wireframes. It was about giving the whole snapshot of the product… and to get that “wow” reaction. After all the conversations with the client’s team have been on for three months and we were getting ready to move into the development phase. At the end of the day, we were not celebrating. We were back to the drawing board – tackling a fundamental shift. Whose fault is it? Sales or Business Analyst or UX or Development?
The situation is not common. The solution to this issue is not uncommon too! All it needs is a fair amount of business acumen and an adoption of simple, flexible and seamless process of UX design and development.
According to a research by Forester, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. No wonder then, businesses understand the importance of UX and its space. Gone are the days when product developers and UX designers had to start the game by educating customers about what UX does.
While there is no magic potion to deliver the best UX possible that satisfies the designer’s creative instincts as well as the customer’s requirements (often shifting), there are a few logical steps that can be taken which can help UX team not miss those celebrations!
Early and complete involvement of decision makers and stakeholders
How often do you find the leadership of your organization and a frontline team not being on the same page? It happens. And it happens at the client organization too. Till you hit the “development” pedal and are gearing up through requirements gathering, concept discussions, workflows, and wireframes – make sure that all the key stakeholders are involved fully, both from your organization and the client organization as well. Even if time is wasted here, it will be a gain later.
Make collaboration work for you.
We cannot blame the UX designer when he/she says, “Please leave me out of those long, boring meetings; rather give me all the time to do what I am supposed to do – design.” While the UX design team cannot duck out of those meetings, they can make the meetings sharp, focused and meaningful by coming up with strong research, insights and questions. This will force the business to lock down on what’s urgent and important. They key is in working together, not working for you or for them.
Choose iteration over perfection
Sometimes you have to lose some battles to win the war. Similarly, you have to curb your passion to deliver the best designs and close the deal. UX design can be and must be an iterative process. This means providing low fidelity sketches and wireframes – with concept notes and explainers, to get the feedback. You can keep the aesthetics out of it. The idea is to get to the point where there are no surprises. Remember, design flaws identified early are much easier to correct than those discovered after the feature has been coded.
Stay ahead of the curve
There is no denying the fact that design needs its time; and there is never enough time. Working ahead of the development stream offers designers time to think through and test assumptions with real users. Staying ahead allows the entire team to review mockups and identify potential issues before the design of that feature is ready for development. The time for this can be gained by – (a) asking for visibility into the sales & business development – seat at the table, (b) having the ability to clearly articulate the UX process, its criticality and its requirements, and (c) bringing to the table strong research, competitive intelligence, and technical insight into what works and what does not backed by data.
UX is not about compelling wireframes and prototypes. If that sounds incongruous, understand that software development is not just about coding / sales is not just about selling / Testing is not just about finding the bugs. Every domain involves relationship management, stakeholder engagement, business acumen/industry insight, cross-functional collaboration and focus on business outcomes and end use satisfaction. Did we say common sense?