How does our new UX focus benefit your projects?
In our last article we delved into our proposal to clients to focus projects from a user experience perspective. We approached this topic from our experience with clients. In this article we aim to approach it from the changes software companies are going through, from our perspective and experience as a software company, in response to the positive impact user experience has in technology projects.
Changes in the process
Development used to be the key part of the process, the star department. However, as clients started to understand the value of including final users in the process of designing their digital products, software development culture began to change. Development stopped being the preponderant role as now users are in the center and they are a key aspect of the UX design phase, hence shifting the focus of any project towards the design. Since then, UX/UI Design has gained more presence and relevance, and had to adapt to handle bigger responsibilities: the BA role, for instance, has moved from the Development team to the UX Design team in an effort to better define the product before a single line of code is written.
Impact in the way we work
As UX/UI projects are more and more common, organizations need to adjust the way they work. That is not an exception for us and we started the process in the early days in incorporating designers to our teams. With time, design phases in projects started gaining terrain and proving their importance in getting better results. For this reason, the balance in the teams started shifting from having UX/UI as a support role, to having equal participation from Design and Development teams.
Our latest adjustments to our working process arose from working with one of our clients with whom we did retrospective meetings after every phase of UX, UI, and Development. In all retrospectives a topic that emerged was co-creation between the teams as an important factor to work in a better way. When starting the project with them, we did not have this approach, we realized this and the client saw it too. While evaluating the process in our first retrospectives, we analyzed that some aspects were not working because we had not involved an integrated team from the beginning. Therefore, we started working with them and, eventually, with the rest of our clients in a more integrated way as a company, among our different areas —UI/UX Design, Development, and QA— which work altogether from the start, and with the client, in co-creation with them. Working this way changed the results completely. You can read the change in our methodology in depth in our article Questioning our processes to improve our deliveries.
The integration of every point of view, the knowledge different roles have, and the combined experience of those who will work to deliver the project from early stages are really useful. It allows for early detection of blockers, opportunities and ways to better use technology.The incorporation of the Developers assigned to the Project from the start enables Design to deliver alternatives that are user oriented and incorporate the technology information that is relevant in their creation. Having QA from the beginning allows us to think of user stories with the testing vision, better identifying scenarios and reducing changes in latter stages.
The incorporation of Design throughout the Development phase allows for better answering of questions, solving issues that might arise, and helps QA in the revision of visual issues. In all, an integrated approach helps us deliver better results and reduce time by decreasing changes and rework.
The ultimate integration needed
In order to fully use an integrated approach, having the final users’ point of view is fundamental. However, this is not always easy as clients do not always understand the need or see the benefits of having the users view in the project.
For example, in another project, with a different client we wanted to involve final users from the beginning since we had learnt about its importance. However, there was total resistance on the client. As this project was so centered on the CEO’s and the company’s image and was not open to incorporate their final users’ vision, chances of failure were higher. From this work experience, we learnt that when we do not involve final users, we lose the opportunity to consider their vision of which things among everything we believe is good, is actually useful. Even if we are assertive in detecting what is good and the problem is accurately defined, the way in which we decided to solve it is not that clear for the user. What is more, if the defined solution is clear for the user, some other aspects such as functionalities and so on may still be missing. This is why the interaction with users adds value to the projects and improves its results as well as its possibilities of success. Adding other visions, and most importantly the user’s visions, means that we are not closing ourselves to the fact that what the client defined and what we developed is accurate and will solve the problem.
The Project Manager approach
From the Project Manager point of view, these changes in the approach and this user experience focus mean that from their role it becomes more necessary and more important to understand the client’s business and what is being done. From Monica Maltzman’s perspective, Project Manager in our crew, when managing projects that are focused on user experience and coordinating teams working in an integrated way throughout the project, understanding the problem, the value proposal and the final user’s need is much more important. This allows the Project Manager to know where does the “weight” have to be put, when is it necessary to involve the client, how to carry out a methodological proposal, and what is the best way to carry forward the communication between teams. The latter many times means to operate as a translator between what the team sees and what the client wants. The Project Manager is the role in charge of the project’s communication and to strategically lead all the parts to be able to route the efforts jointly. Therefore, to manage in an efficient way and achieve a balance between the love every part of the team has for their work and the client for its ideas, understanding the business, the methodologies being used in the project and the reasons behind them is key.
From Onetree, we are constantly learning from our projects, taking learnings from every phase of the project and from every situation and rapidly thinking what methodological adjustments are in order. We implement those adjustments right away, in the project in which we detected them and in those that follow. For us it is not only important to see what could be improved but also to be fast at applying it. Our philosophy as a company is to continuously question the way we work, learning from what we do right or wrong, finding new and better ways to do everything we do, implementing them fast to our projects, and iterating again.
Without doubt, this focus on user experience which, requires carrying out Development from a UI/UX perspective methodology which proposes co-creation with the client and between the teams, is the way to follow.