I recently spoke to a development group in UW-IT about how they might integrate UX thinking into their daily work. They are in a good place. Everyone —from the administration to the project teams— has bought into the idea of UX, but they just weren’t sure how to proceed.
For me, beyond the absolute pleasure of talking to this group, this offered a welcome opportunity to clarify my current thinking about the role of UXDs in product development. You can check out the resulting presentation below. Some of the content has sparked meaningful and intense dialog with my colleagues, so I thought I’d share it in hopes of broadening the conversation.
You see, this invitation was incredibly timely. Here at ACA, we are completing an overhaul of how we manage product development, which led to some serious soul-searching about how we should modify our Scrum and UX processes & artifacts to allow for holistic, efficient, and effective User-Centered Design (UCD) within an Agile framework. [a future post on this is
This soul-searching, on the UX side, was initiated by taking a pause and asking ourselves —as UX professionals— “why UX?”. It is a simple, but often overlooked question in our profession, resulting in an appropriately simple answer.
We, as UX Designers, offer one primary value to the product team and to our users: mapping the product to the target users’ real workflows (how the users would naturally set about accomplishing their goals). That is it. Once we nail that, we are really just in the business of optimizing certain aspects of the product to maximize the already established usability.
This seems obvious, but a large majority of the Designers out there miss this fundamental basis for good UCD. I’m not talking about noobs here, but highly educated, well-experienced UXDs. Our fundamental purpose seems to get lost somewhere in the rush to present pretty artifacts to satisfy our clients, users, and —ultimately— our own vanity**.
This clarity of purpose has had a rapid and profound affect on how we Design; communicate with clients and colleagues; and even manage our development projects.
Anyway, I elaborate on this in the presentation below, as well as share some best practices for establishing a culture of UX for your team. Be sure to check out the presentation narrative, as it complements the slides.
If any questions; thoughts; or opinions come to mind, leave a comment below. I’d love to continue this conversation.