Design Thoughts

10 Learnings in 10 Years (Part 3)

 5. Before your designs go into development cycle, make sure you do rigorous reviews with Product Manager, Development Lead, Testing Lead, a representative User, possibly one from customer support, Agile Project management lead, all in one room (2012)

industry-specific B2B apps development team in the US

No brainer? Well yes, it is. But it often takes more than one may imagine. It requires a bit of skill development to carry out successful validation sessions with all the perspectives being in one room.

One of the underlying principles of Agile UX is runtime thinking. Runtime judgment is one crucial aspect that UX community does not seem to have written much about. In a typical agile development cycle, a UXer may get between 2-3 weeks of time before designs are pushed in the development sprint. To make the best of these short sprints, one often needs to bank on the previously acquired understanding of user behaviors and anticipate intentions while canvas is being UIed.

Segwaying into something not entirely related but here is one of the examples of runtime design judgment that was made while designing interfaces for a predictive analytics based Oil and Gas industry solution.

We needed to plot different data streams for maintenance engineers to be able to identify various sensors emitting corresponding data. Using color could have been a no-brainer solution. Well, It could not have been if you are dealing with 10 different data streams that needed be plotted together. We know enough from various cognitive studies that humans have difficulty in processing more than 5 distinct colors if they are all representing 5 different things. The context in which maintenance engineers in Gas fields operate is even more difficult. While UI is in the making, these runtime + judgment + acquired learning based decisions that one would make help in being truly agile.

Coming back to the topic of learning, I am a firm believer and practitioner of the idea that UX not only needs to be agile, UXers can also lead rest of the team in a way that puts team energy and skills to optimal use.

All stakeholders-review session or design concepts for a refrigeration mechanics software, Denmark 2006

Snapshot of “10 different data streams UI challenge” mentioned above

6. Design specs are meaningless unless those are substantiated by relevant and engaging stories from users’ context (2013)

a cross-functional team in Bangkok

Often designers think that developers do not exclusively care about why something is designed in a particular way. They could be so wrong about it.

Developers do care about the stories from the user’s context just as much as the designer would. There is more and more need for designers to find more engaging ways of putting the specs together. Most critical UI decisions have a compelling story to tell, more often than not. What if we, as UXers, attempt, go that extra mile and juxtapose stories with UI solutions. In a similar effort, stories of what we observed, what users said etc. in several discovery sessions with Risk Analysts (end users) while designing an enterprise solution in the Banking domain, were presented with the initial UI solutions in the form of an engaging app-like experience that developers enjoyed referring to. Stories not only help in substantiating design decisions with reason and rationale but often give a much-needed break from the complex, analytical life of a developer.

An app like interactive digest of all the relevant stories captured during discovery sessions with Risk Analysts in Bangkok, 2013


Continue to Part 3

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