User Experience requires solicitous care and thoughtful design process. Attention and emotions of people are fragile. Designing for them force us to use sophisticated techniques.
Let’s discuss today architecture of our design processes. Are wireframes, paper prototypes, cognitive walks through, qualitative studies, site maps, conceptual diagrams etc. essential? Are you trying to sell as many of them as possible? Or are you rather trying to design UX design process reaching for perfect architecture?
If somebody asks me how my UX design process looks alike I always say that it all depends. Design process shouldn’t be constant. Design process should transform and change. There are many paths to the perfect user experience. Architecture of the UX design process is the question itself. Question that should be answered by usage of proper design tools and research methods. Design process should be designed to hit the target at minimal cost. It’s rational for our clients, organizations and… for us. This economic approach lets us actually fix more things and provide better overall User Experience.
Do only what’s necessary and skip the rest.
Does it ring any bell? In my opinion, architecture of User Experience Design should be designed. This is the paradox of UX designers perfectionism. We’re designing our processes, tools and methods to make ourselves better at making things better.
Are there any fixed points in my UX Design process? Absolutely.
User Experience Design should always start with vivid and well defined problem. Concept work should be done quickly and collaboratively – I do it with analog tools (paper prototyping kits, whiteboards). Data should back up design decisions. Every design should be clearly documented.
The rest always depends on a project.
How do I choose methods? I always ask myself weather specific technique would solve any problem. Do I really need to create personas? Why? How will it enrich my design process? Will it add value to overall User Experience? How will it help developers?
Asking questions is essential.
What’s your opinion? Are you designing design processes? How UX benefits from it?
This week was really exciting for the UX world. Apple showed awesome TextBooks for iPad (damn they are good). Mailchimp showed us great TinyLetter and we had chance to read interview with Aarron Walter – Mailchimp Lead UX Designer.
If you missed anything of that – this is your chance to catch up: 5 most popular UX articles!
Our great client, Adam Feldman (Google), wrote on his blog:
“Well this is kinda the coolest thing ever. UX Pin ships you a design resource book for drawing out paper and pencil wireframes…. then it uses magic to turn digital pictures of said mockups into real, functional, digital wireframes. Expect to see all kinds of stuff from me using this service. Check it out here.”
UX designers suppose to design human centered, seductive and effective products. In the same time our workflow tend to be:
unfocused and messy
done with badly designed tools that weren’t meant to be UX tools
So repeat after me: In 2012 I will avoid waste in my UX worklow.
People needs better products. There’s no time to waste for wrong processes and bad tools.
Guideline for effecitve UX design in 2012
We should unify our offline and digital methods
According to a survey conducted by Todd Zaki Warfel (Prototyping: A Practitioner Guideline): 77% of UX practitioners use paper as a prototyping/wireframing method. Paper is absolutely indispensable, but unless it’s fully compatible with the workflow – it might be a waste of time.
We tend to sketch complete UIs and then redraw them in the wireframing tool. We’re repeating ourselves. What a waste.
What we should do, is plan basic structure of the interface on paper and than move it smoothly to the wireframing tool.
That’s why with UXPin you can just stick sticky-notes with UI elements to the paper and your basic prototype will be auto-converted into fully editable wireframe. Check this video: http://youtu.be/-hwaUyRdhhI
Always start with definition of the problem
That can’t be overemphasized. Every design should start with a clear and painful problem.
Spend more time on a concept work
I always say – we’re not in a rectangle drawing business. We’re in shaping experiences business. We’re paid for our great concepts rooted in knowledge on human behavior. Nobody should pay us for our deliverables. They are just tools.
Avoid treating wireframes as a requirement doc
Collaborate with your team or die. Your wireframes should communicate design as a solution to specific problems. If people on your team have some other ideas – listen to them and don’t hesitate to provide changes to your design.
In UXPin you can work all together on the design. Collaboration works just like in Google Docs.
Never handle wireframes without appropriate description
How many times did you hear „oh crap I didn’t get it”/ „I didn’t know I should click here?!”. Your wireframe might be obvious to you, but it doesn’t mean it’s obvious in general. Try to make your wireframe… user centered.
Leave old tools behind
User Experience is a relatively young field. In the past, we didn’t have our own tools, so we were borrowing from visual designers, programmers, business developers and product managers. We’ve adopted tools that weren’t meant to help us. Time to change that.
Once upon a time, there was an UX designer. The only UX designer in the village far far away. Village was really developers-driven and folks didn’t know what UX is. Oh, they didn’t care about design, users and sweet analysis. They loved technology, features and quick deployments.
They didn’t enjoy changes and UX designer was not welcomed. All this prototyping, wireframing, qualitative tests and quantitative measures… they just didn’t believe in that.
UX designer was young, eager and took everything really personal. Fights begun. Soon the village was on fire.
I don’t know if any species extincted because of anti-collaborative approach, but I’m pretty sure that many fluorished thanks to that. Collaboration is somehow at the center of everything that grows quickly. Take ant’s mound, or skyscrapper’s construction site.
At work it’s usually hard to grasp as we tend to fight for our own „good”. We’re selfish and insecure thinking that we’re at the center of the company’s universe. Guess what. We’re not. Users (if we’re lucky) and business goals are.
If you’re acting as a tribe you’ve got common strategy and common goals. That’s good for everyone involved.
User Experience, as every young player, is especially exposed to danger of selfishness and insecurity. We tend to think that remedy to our weak organizational position are fights. They are not. Remedy is collaboration and collaborative tools.
I was once UX designer from the story. Now I lead team of 5 great designers (huge for local standards) in the same company.
Solution was dead simple.
Don’t explain. Demonstrate!
I’ve stopped explaining and started demonstrating. Demonstration of your process is powerful. Show your approach to concept work, show your approach to prototyping, show testing and analysis. They will enjoy it.
Don’t fight. Engage!
I’ve quitted fighting and decided to engage team in my work. Huge project was started by common research (everyone in the company could participate) and common sessions of paper prototyping. People really quickly shifted from „go to hell with your new methods” to „oh this is really working”.
Open all doors!
Openning of just a concept part, or research, wasn’t enough. People needed to see whole process (including wireframing) to understand what’s going on and how it’s going to help you.
Fights ended and projects amazed folks with success. Now we’re famous from our „UX friendly” culture and UX designers working on every project.
UXPin approach, on the contrary to all the old „UX tools” (they are not really focused on UX – rather on quick wireframing/prototyping/mockuping for biz devs, project managers etc.), facilitates collaborative approach to design.
You can organize workshops for your team using UXPin notepads. Forms for concept work (design problem definition, personas, diagrams) will help you demonstrate how early stage of the design can be done and why it’s crucial to the whole process
You can paper prototype basic structure of the UI using UXPin notepads. It’s fun and easy to do. Whole team can just stick UI elements to the paper. After paper prototyping session you can take pictures of prototypes and send them to the UXPin App, where every paper prototype will be auto-converted into fully editable wireframe
With UXPin you can invite your team to the wireframing App and they will be able to participate in the process. You will be able to chat with them in the app while wireframing!