I’ve always found it hard to explain what I do. Either because I work in several areas, or because most people don’t know or are not familiar with the contents and subjects I work on a daily basis. Not being able to explain my job has bothered me for quite some time. Recently, I’ve come to the realisation that this issue… Was no longer an issue to me.
Through the years, almost unconsciously, I developed a self-defence mechanism to react when people asked me, “What do you do for a living?”. Instead of referring a professional area, I would talk about the projects I had worked on or was involved in. This way, people would forget the initial question and the conversion would flow easily. Looking back, it is actually kind of funny to remember how these conversations would go.
Imagine yourself in a group dinner, with people you just met. At a certain point, people would talk about their jobs. If there was an architect or a doctor, no more explanations would be needed, and everyone would understand what they did for a living.
When it came to my turn, I would answer UX/UI Designer. Here, I’d receive one of two reactions. Either people nodded, not really knowing what I did and thinking my job was doing pretty websites, or someone would ask “What is that exactly?”. In this last scenario, I would come up with an improvised definition, great enough to be on a Wikipedia page.
UX/UI Design and how to sell the process
I get very happy when people show interest in what I do and want to hear my explanations.
Lately, I’ve been attending a few workshops to remember some concepts and processes. In these, people have been making me a question that I usually hear in group dinners. Well, at least in good group dinners.
The question is simple and makes total sense: “So, how are you going to sell the UX process?”. Since it is not a very familiar process to most people, I can understand how difficult it can be for a company to perceive value and invest in something they don’t know much about.
Due to this difficulty, I usually give a few examples of our daily life. After all, if you think about it, we all invest in UX, investing time and money on processes to make decisions. Let’s see:
– What do we do if we want to change our telecommunications company? We compare the price range in the operating companies or study how the installation can be made.
– What if we want to find a school for our kids? We look for other parents’ reviews, ask for recommendations from people we know and explore different teaching methods.
In these examples, we are our own audience. In a project directed to a larger audience, the user experience has to be considered for a group of several people, with specific and common needs. Fortunately, we see this kind of thinking happening more and more.
UX intention’s not to put the whole decision power in users’ hands. Instead, it aims to bring the company closer to its audience, in order to guarantee the best and most fluid experience possible. Rather than a personal opinion like “I want to do it this way because I believe it’s the best way”, UX questions the users. The point is to understand if the process and final product truly answer their needs.
That’s how you can sum up UX. As a process of building and re-building solutions (visual, technological or process like), that answer a group of user’s needs, considering the requirements of the business.
What I’m trying to say here is that there is no rule to sell UX, there is only the possibility to create empathy. This happens by demonstrating to the person I’m talking to, already uses these kind of processes in daily life activities. If so, why not do the same in a company?
In summary, I begin by creating a scenario in which the person I’m speaking with, can relate. For instance, if I know the person has kids, than I bring school’s issues, and so on. Instead of the initial reaction, which is to think this is just something just “nice”, people find out this makes total sense.
There is another point I usually bring up in these cases, that can be relevant: investment in UX can make the organizations save money on a long term. I not only create empathy with who I’m talking to but also explain the investment advantage. Of course, other questions come up at this point, but with a totally different mindset.
How do you “do” UX? What is this thing called process?
Sometimes, UX conversations end up with a simple explanation. However, sometimes people get curious and want to explore more this concepts.
For example, if I have this conversation with a friend or someone I’m familiar with, they come share with me a post or information they found the subject, so to start a discussion or validate some ideas. That’s where the curiosity to figure out how I create my projects, comes up: “You talk about process, but what’s that all about?”.
The short answer is: through an analysis process, and by building and re-building solutions. To reach these solutions, I start by doing what I usually do, which includes a strategy, design thinking and visual process techniques (of course, all projects suffer adaptations).
The main concept implies that UX is a grounded and well-thought process, so the resulting product has an impact on the audience or clients. Each project is different, but there are four stages common to almost all of them:
User needs ux business needs
Double Diamond can be the beginning of everything. However, I found it added value to combine some other techniques and strategies in the projects I’ve worked with. My process is not only founded in the Double Diamond method, but also considering IDEO – a process ideology centred in the human being –, and the design thinking process itself.
Design Thinking Process
Human based process
I usually begin a project by trying to understand the audience and their needs, which design must attend (both stakeholders and final users).
I should make a disclaimer here, and tell you that I don’t believe there’s a precise recipe for every project. Instead, I have this mindset of discovery as a trigger, and then I go from there, making adjustments considering project’s demands. Generally, this is my starting point:
– “I don’t know”: when there’s something I’ll need to find out. With this affirmation, I come up with an activity or exercise to discover what I don’t know yet;
-“This could be true”: when there’s something I envision as a solution, but still doesn’t have the audience validation.
Throughout the whole process, I keep transforming “I don’t know” and “This could be true”, into certainties that eventually shape my solution. Are these definite facts? Of course not. But the idea is to question, validate and re-validate everything along the way.
This re-validation process leads us to a never-ending cycle. With time, it will allow an incremental evolution of the product, adjusting it to fit the ever-changing audience needs. However, we can distinguish four stages in this cycle:
- Discover/Research: problem insights gathering (divergent thinking)
- Definition/summary: exact and focused definition of the problem (convergent thinking)
- Development/Ideation: characterization of the potential solutions to the same problem, including tests and validations (divergent thinking)
- Delivery/Implementation: application of the most fitted solution, or a mix of all of them (convergent thinking
Each of these stages can be worked in more detail. Usually, the first phase – which gathers a large set of questions and assumptions that need testing – includes:
- Analysis of stakeholders expectations – here, I make a brief introduction of the project, how stakeholders perceive the brand, how they identify the product, who they think their clients are (personas), which locations are relevant, if there are any experiences worth being explored, among others;
- Discovery assembling: before I begin the research process, I delineate my discovery objectives, by limiting a few relevant points that can be interesting to this process;
- Research: here is where I apply primary and secondary research.
After all this, I make an effort to bring sense to all my findings, by making a short results and learnings report. Here is where I can find insights about users’ motivations, desires and frustrations, and build an opportunity window from that point.
With conclusions made on this stage, I can use the How Might We canvas to answer to the set of identified problems.
Accordingly, the second stage begins. For me, this is where the fun begins.
Having the insights gathered on the first stage as a base point, I can create innovative solutions that also answer my audience needs and problems. At the end of this stage, all ideas are evaluated, usually through dot-voting and impact/ viability matrix.
As a result, I end up with a smaller number of ideas. The following step is to make a prototype out of them, and test to find the best possible solution. The ones with better results, are implemented.
Victory: when people look for UX concepts on their own
It’s always funny when the conversation takes longer. After all, I really love what I do, so it is amazing to be able to talk about this and excite people around me. But the coolest phenomenon is when people get so interested in this theme that they begin sharing with their research findings on the subject.
For instance, I’ve had long conversations with a great friend of mine, about UX. In all our late night dinners, he began to grow interest in this subject. In the process, his interest spread along the company he works in. A few days ago, he showed me a few articles and videos from his company, about UX designers. As a project manager, he gave feedback about the selling process of the UX process, and that made really happy.
There is nothing better when these conversations originate a genuine interest in the theme. That makes do some research on my own about what I do, all in a natural way. Almost like an inception. My answers about what I do change this way.
If you liked this post read what Tiago has said about the same topic https://www.angry.ventures/blog/products-experiences-priority/.