When introducing a new project, expectations around what user experience (UX) deliverables will consist of, what data the client will provide, and how the design team will work – internally and on the tech side – can differ significantly from one company to another.
For some companies, UX is a recently implemented practice that is still evolving along with their product necessities. When working on a project with clients who are new to UX, designers may hit a wall if approaches feel stuck in a ’90s mindset and there is resistance to new methodologies.
If you’re part of a UX team, your role goes beyond your professional title itself; UX should be part of your daily activities. If you’re wondering where to start to convey the value of UX for a project, here are some key things you should thoughtfully consider before jumping into this experience.
Stubborn Stakeholders Are Not Your Enemies
Some people are not entirely convinced of the value behind UX implementation and may not understand the tasks a designer performs to get a single deliverable. Here are some tips to persuade unconvinced stakeholders to collaborate with you:
- Introduce them to the UX/UI world. Present them with the process your team will follow to deliver their tasks, the approximate time frames for each step, and the current stage within that process at which each of your design team members is currently positioned.
- Show them that UX is not only a matter of wireframes or mockups. For each stage, present them with the deliverables they can expect from your team, always emphasizing that tools are not set in stone as deliverables. Point out that they can always be replaced with others, depending on the approach for the particular product.
Finally and most importantly, be empathetic and patient with them. Remember that for some of your stakeholders, it might be their first time working with UX/UI designers on their team.
Highlight that everyone can learn and gain value from other disciplines – even the most experienced professionals.
Workshops Are Underrated
Be prepared, as this might be a difficult task, but it will be worth it: Request a 45-minute or one-hour session in which you can show the value of implementing UX workshops. Setting this up may be challenging, especially since many participants and stakeholders will need to have a synced agenda to make this meeting possible.
Keep in mind that some stakeholders may not be as open as you might expect to start out. But, as you begin showcasing the benefits, you’ll win their trust. More importantly, you’ll be able to run further research, creativity, and testing workshops.
There are many UX tools available to support you while running these ideation and definition workshops. These tools can help your whole team define and present the goal and the minimum viable product (MVP).
An excellent example is the Lean UX Canvas which, as Jeff Ghotelf (author of Lean UX Canvas) explains, is “a facilitation tool for cross-functional teams designed to create a customer-centric conversation about the work the team is doing.”
Some other canvases that might be helpful during the initial stages of planning and definition include:
- Business Model Canvas
- Lean Canvas
- Experience Canvas
Reaching Agreements Is a Process
The use of Agile methodologies is trending for companies looking to upgrade their mindset and their working style. During the updating process, however, the methodology many organizations end up using is known as a Water-Scrum-fall, or a mix of traditional and Agile practices that’s not necessarily effective.
Since Waterfall is a linear process requiring a project to be completed in sequential steps, clients will expect the UX team to deliver in the same way as a development team. On the contrary, this methodology requires an entirely different process with estimation of tasks and time for each deliverable.
Therefore, it’s important to take into account the tools and advantages Agile practices can offer. Before jumping into action:
- Align your clients’ expectations with the different disciplines. Together, map out the milestones and tasks each team will focus on during each sprint. A Jira board, for instance, can be implemented so the entire team can gain a broader view of what the client has planned for either the product’s MVP or the Q at issue.
- Make it clear that even though you’re part of a cross-functional team, the Design team will follow and couple its process into the sprint estimation.
- As a designer, you can also have tracking tickets, but take into account that your tasks and their estimation points will differ from how developers usually do them.
- Ask your project manager or business analyst to document the user stories linked to the tasks you’ll be working on so everyone can stay on track with the design effort.
- Try to have your stakeholder present once the sprint starts to ensure everyone agrees on the work you’ll be doing during that period.
- Lastly, be sure to schedule a weekly or bi-weekly demo so you can showcase the UX progress you’ve been making.
- To get past the idea of UX only delivering mockups and prototypes, once you’ve reached a milestone or finished a task, present it to your stakeholders. It’s wise to do so not only to increase visibility of your work, but also so you can receive and take into consideration their feedback for future enhancements.
- Once you’ve finished making enhancements, send them or demo them again, but make sure to document all the approvals and changes that have been requested. Doing so either via email or with a document checkbox will prevent future disagreements between stakeholders.
Your duties and potential challenges as a UX/UI team member will include maintaining a voice and being a point of reference within the project, proposing and suggesting solutions, and guiding your team and the stakeholders to agree on the business problem, the desired outcomes, and the benefits and value the user will get from the product.
Trust yourself and the knowledge you have, and remember that the best way to learn is by doing. You may face edge cases and working environments that will take you out of your comfort zone, and that’s okay. Above all, focus on demonstrating that your work is valuable and proving that the implementation of UX is a must-have in today’s projects.
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