Seth Owings

Author: Seth Owings (page 2 of 2)

How to tell someone their baby is ugly

Rather, how do you tell a product owner or dev lead that their UX is bad?

Congrats on your new job! Someone has just hired you as a user experience designer/strategist, but when you start looking at the product you see lots of glaring issues with the UX. The existing product/dev team has been hard at work on this and there is a lot of emotional investment in what they have already produced. So, how do you fix the UX without telling them that their baby is ugly? Or, better yet, how do you tell them that their baby is ugly, but in a way that makes them thank you for pointing it out?

I don’t have all the answers and every situation is different, but here are some guiding principles:

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User Feedback Methodology

The 5 W’s

Getting feedback from users is a critical part of designing the user experience for a product. But gathering feedback can be a daunting task. What is the best format? What questions do I ask? How do I translate what they are saying into something usable? Here is my guide to making user feedback more successful, I call them the 5 W’s:

  1. What are your objectives?
  2. What are your assumptions?
  3. How will you collect the data?
  4. Who are you going to engage?
  5. Who is going to conduct the session?

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UX Evaluation for Existing Products

I’ve done some freelance work and I really enjoyed it, but you don’t always get the opportunity to see things through to launch as a consultant. When you’re employed full-time in a UX role, you get to be part of the development team and are able to impact the product all the way through development to release. This level of continued involvement is what I have found to create the best-produced experiences. Here is my process for when I’ve been asked evaluate an existing project and manage the experience through to the new release of that product:

  1. Data Collection
  2. Product Review
  3. Prioritization
  4. UX/Heuristic Evaluation
  5. Wireframing/Prototyping
  6. Development

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How does UX fit into software development?

There are benefits to both waterfall and agile methodologies. However, when it comes to creating phenomenal user experiences, waterfall cycles tend to come up short and here is why:

The user experience on paper can be VERY different from the user’s experience. There are often things that the researcher or business analyst might suggest that only address the symptom and not the issue, or the initial interaction design fails to address a major use-case, or the visual design detracts from the usability of the product in some way. All of the members of the team across all of the disciplines involved must work together to overcome these obstacles as they arise during the product development. Because, the truth is, you are never going to be able to account for every problem or scenario in the BRD that was written three months ago.

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Loss Aversion in Adversarial Collaboration

I’ve been reading Thinking: Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and one of the things that really stood out to me was his presentation of loss aversion. I know that humans are loss averse, that isn’t news to me. But what I had never really thought about before was this idea in the context of adversarial collaboration in the workplace.

As a UX Strategist, almost all of my collaboration is adversarial. I am a staunch supporter of the user’s experience, sometimes to the detriment of the business plan. You might wonder, though, why that’s a problem. Shouldn’t the UX guy be supporting the user’s experience? Well, yes… but every other member of the team is a staunch supporter of their [insert focus or metric]. It is not often that every member of the team, from sales to support, is being held accountable by their supervisors for supporting or producing a positive user experience.

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What is a UX Strategist?

I can’t really answer that question without defining the different UX disciplines and how they all work together. User Experience encompasses everything that goes into product design and use. That product could be a website, a piece of enterprise software, a kitchen appliance, or a car. Since UX includes such wide array of concepts and practical applications, there is often confusion about what a UX Strategist does (or should do). In the digital software space, UX has four primary disciplines:

  • Research
  • Interaction Design
  • Visual Design
  • Development

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