<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=443149619225659&ev=PageView&noscript=1"> People Are at the Heart of Projects

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People Are at the Heart of Projects

People Are at the Heart of Projects

Ward Andrews, a successful UX strategist and my pick for blog author of the month, has discovered that many functional products are often heavily influenced by internal preferences and politics when they should be designed based on user needs.

Is this true in your organization? If so, let’s begin the conversation about how we can initiate change that will not only benefit your organization, but also the users who rely on you and your products.

Clarity Drives Alignment

Everybody knows this one, right? Success is far more likely when we create a clear, concise statement of our objectives and desired outcomes. Bonus points if we can dollarize that success! Begin by engaging stakeholders as collaborative partners in our adventure since they will be the ones impacted by change. Include company leadership, product owners, designers, and developers to help clarify the characteristics of who to engage in our user interviews and help provide input on what types of questions to ask.

Keep the Collaborative Spirit Alive

The more ownership users feel, the more open they will be.  It’s no secret that people are generally resistant to change. We’ve all noticed it when we open that new update on our phone and see the latest 3-finger swipe control. It takes time to adapt to these changes, so someone better have validated that I am going to recognize the value in that new feature. So when it’s your turn to pull the trigger on that mobile app that changes how your customers interact with your organization, we need to have a clear process in place to confirm that your end user will benefit from - and actually use -  your update, feature, or application that you deem so important to your business. How do we do that? Ask the user.

Every company claiming to offer UX as a core competency must recognize that users (yes, real live users) are to be involved in varying capacity during the product development cycle. Every business that offers a product or application says that they want to deliver great experiences to users. But what defines a great experience? How is this experience manifested through your application so that you meet users’ needs while sticking to your business strategies? Success is far more likely when we ensure that everyone involved in the development process has a shared understanding of what a great experience is.

What Gets Rewarded, Gets Done

With the marketing group pushing to build as quickly as possible and the CFO watching the budget, user research - including interviews - are often an easy target for exclusion. After all, we should already understand what our users want. We’re experts in our field and many of us have been the target user of an application like ours, right? Many of us have made this assumption at one time or another as product owners and our development efforts have most likely returned varying degrees of success. This approach may lead to undesirable outcomes as you build a product to solve perceived problems and end up delivering limited value to your users. One key step to project kickoff is to gather as much accurate information as possible from users, and leverage that information to help make design decisions that address actual user pain points.

Plan by Doing  Your Homework - Then Keep an Open Mind

Conducting user interviews isn’t just a matter of asking questions and taking notes. To facilitate good feedback, you show respect by being thoroughly prepared. Approach the interview with an open mind, make direct eye contact, and make your users feel comfortable sharing honestly with you. 

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About the author

Steve Vest, User Experience Architect, Small Footprint. After 17 years and several roles within the website and application business, Steve claims to know a thing or two about UI design, UX and working with clients and dev teams to build and evolve quality interactive products. He is passionate about the art and science of making end users feel satisfied and competent while creating experiences that evoke the “I really like how this thing works” rating.
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