As we transition from pulled-content web pages to the era of intelligent digital products, companies now realize the importance of UX design in bringing high-quality products to market. By inviting user experience research and design upstream of development, product development teams benefit from visually validating features and updates before costly commitments and spend less time reacting to dissatisfied customers.
The Role UX Plays In Digital Product Design & Development
In 2019, I presented “Engineering The User Experience” to the top 100 software engineers and their managers during our annual global software summit. The software engineers understood the importance of UX but were challenged with embedding it into their current development processes. The presentation was well-received, and after the winter holidays, I led an international team for 11 weeks to discover and recommend just that. The team found that worldwide, we employed six different development processes, all of which did not permit UX to be part of the discovery process. Instead, we only provided the bare minimum of time for UI design when the software engineers were already engaged. In the final report, I offered my thoughts on UX’s role in software development and illustrated how UX roles and deliverables change during an entire release cycle.
UX discovers needs and constraints in order to determine how best to achieve a goal.
UX brings clarity and economy to proposed processes and flows through research, interviewing, collaboration, problem-solving, storytelling, and visual validation.
UX avoids Frankensteining a product with mixed or inappropriate ad hoc solutions by maintaining awareness of the forest for the trees.
UX avoids offering siloed solutions by realizing the effect it will have on the big picture.
UX understands practical usability and balances UI/UX solutions with the constraints of time, money, and technical feasibility.
UX helps shape the usefulness and effectiveness of software for all concerns.
UX is a discipline whose sole purpose is to positively affect the end user’s ability to interact with software and accelerate their ability to achieve their goals.
UX makes it harder for the user to do the wrong thing and easier to do the right thing.
UX applies graphic design standards to create a visual language that compliments software features.
UX defines an appropriate UI that will harmonize with the software’s features and improve, not decrease usability.
UX requires its own internalized agile cycles of discovery, prototyping, and development.
UX is most effective when collaborating as a co-author to the product development team, providing visual validation to initial concepts and change requests before UI developers are engaged.
A Typical Day-ish
Over the last five years, I have been capable of focusing more on UX design from a product designer’s perspective. Working directly with product managers, subject matter experts, and lead developers, I was responsible for shaping the product experience and played a lead role in feature development. During the last year, I was central to all digital product development – product managers ran all ideas through me, and the development team was reluctant to work on any feature that didn’t come with a true need, a vetted user story, or design guides and mechanicals.
7:00am – 8:00am
8:00am – 9:00am
9:00am – 10:00am
10:00am – 4:00pm
4-8 Hour Weekends
Breakfast UX design sessions, solo or with PMs, SMEs
UX strategy and UX design sessions with lead PMs
Team Meeting – project management, strategy, data, software development, design reviews, research, planning, etc.
UX, UI/UX, UX strategy design sessions, solo or real-time with PMs, SMEs, Lead Devs, end-users
Many weekends were spent refining existing products solo or with PMs or conceptualizing new products or features with senior leadership
Real-Time UX & UI/UX
It’s funny how everyone focuses on improving the software users’ experience and overlooks the development team’s experience of making software. Unlike traditional designers who sit in a meeting, ask questions, take notes, and disappear for a week, I instituted real-time UX design sessions with senior leadership, product managers, subject matter experts, and software engineers. Taking this approach dramatically decreased the need for project managers to document everything under the sun and improved
What I Can Do For You And Your Development Teams
I have witnessed human-computer interaction evolve from teletype terminals and monochromatic displays to handheld devices, from reformatting data entries because of syntax errors to predictive algorithms correctly guessing my intent, and from keyboard-driven menu systems to branded interactive design experiences.
And as someone who can leverage decades of experience, I bring leadership and product teams a seasoned and holistic perspective on UX best practices when balancing business goals and technology constraints with the subjective desires of your end-users. In short, I believe my proven work experience and design-thinking skills make me an outstanding full-stack UX designer for your organization.
Recommended Books on UX
There are many books on the subject, but in my humble opinion, these three are a must-read for anyone tired of throwing ideas over the fence and waiting for complaints and suggestions from their customers. Here are three of my favorites:
Communicating the UX Vision
13 Anti-Patterns That Block Good Ideas
Communicate your design ideas more effectively and break away from thirteen common anti-patterns that block good ideas.
100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People
If you don’t understand people and their basic motivations, then you’re probably designing for yourself.
UX For Beginners
A Crash Course in 100 Short Lessons
Contrary to the title, this book is worth its weight in gold. These 100 lessons are sure to enlighten even a seasoned UXer.
To be continued…