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There is no love in User Experience Design

No love in User Experience Design

@sis

You stand back, fold your arms and feel good. You’ve completed your design and you want to pat yourself on the back and show the world what you’ve created. Unfortunately, you’ve done the one thing you shouldn’t do as a good user experience designer and that’s fall in love with your idea.

We are no longer in a market where we can afford ourselves time to perfect a product, to wait a year before something goes out to our users. We can look to the mobile channel to appreciate how fast things are changing, within a year, material design took shape and really disrupted a lot of thinking and behaviors for apps and overall usability. Choices in your design that were made a year ago may be no longer relevant.

The trick? Keep your idea non-committed and as lean as possible. The more time you spend on an idea without consulting your users, the more you’ll fall in love with it. This is not a new concept, but something we need to keep in mind as user experience designers. If you take too much time on your idea, the market will change and your best guess is just that. All you can do at that point is hope that your guess was right.

So what do you do? How can you make sure that your prototype starts out on the right path? Be sure to align your stakeholders and user stories as soon as possible. A lot of companies claim to be user-centered, but in reality, most businesses have a need or an idea that they feel passionate about and they will spend countless hours debating it. When they finally decide on a direction, they ramp up a team and build it. Most of the time, this process can be long and drawn out with new ideas and scope creep finding its way into a project and all along the way they never asked or consulted with their customers. By the time the product reaches the market, their customers may have changed their behaviors because the world around them never stopped.

But you might argue, “Prototypes, research and usability tests? Those are always so expensive.” Not so. Create a process where you can afford to fail in the cheapest way possible in the shortest amount of time. You must allow yourself to move quickly and fail often while learning along the way. Post-It notes and a pencil are a User Experience designers best friend. Keep your designs simple, without design flair and be sure of what goals you are trying to reach. Doing so will keep your prototype focused and free of unnecessary features. It will give you the opportunity to get into testing right away. Keep in mind, once you get to a point where Post-It notes cannot communicate the idea, then you’ll need to move into a more interactive prototype. This still can be done efficiently with tools like Axure, Balsamiq or straight up HTML.

As User Experience designers, we love what we do. There’s great satisfaction in stepping back and knowing you had a hand in building something that accomplishes a goal or helps a customer, but remember, never fall in love with your designs.