When asked what the most difficult components of major business UX/UI projects are, many designers fail to address the complexities of the interactions or the challenge of integrating a new system with legacy products. Instead, they emphasise the skill and experience required to manage stakeholders, gather input, and unearth relevant information during discovery.
How can you offer your design team with the intelligence and support they need to perform high-quality work, whether you're working with an internal team or an external provider?
Provide Proactive Advocates to Your UX Team
Select Project Leaders Who Can Drive Project Momentum
Early identification of project champions from among project stakeholders is crucial to the success of design initiatives. Encourage them to assist the design team in all stages of the process, beginning with discovery. Discuss the significance of bridging the communication gap between the project team and the rest of the organisation with them.
Demand that these supporters be as invested in the work as the designers are. The UX team will have questions when they learn about current users or workflows and how the new solution may affect them. Highlight each leader's area of expertise for the design team and how that affects their ability to mould the solution.
Select Advocates with In-Depth Institutional Knowledge.
Your advocates are ready to respond to any questions posed by the design team. Choose wisely. Perhaps the advocate recalls a four-year-old focus group and existing teams with access to the original data? Or perhaps she will be able to share old documents with the design team in order to quickly collect context? Look for people who can walk with your project team and help them make the connections they require between prior work and current ambitions.
Involve Stakeholders in the Discovery Process
Users to be sourced as representatives for the Design Team
The first step in determining an approach to solving a business problem with UX is to have a thorough picture of the key audience. No one knows more about empathising with the existing audience than current consumers when it comes to defining the problem. Activate your leaders to collaborate with the design/project team and provide them access to users or representative users. (If you're developing a line-of-business solution, these representative users could come from among the project's stakeholders.)
Complete user research to understand more about the departments with which the UX team will need to consult during the solution's development.
During the discovery process, consider meeting with the following groups:
Users who are representative
Establish a Timetable for Intelligence Gathering in Collaboration
Agree on a timeframe for discovery with the major project stakeholders. The number of existing assets shared with the design team may influence the amount of time required to synthesise. Encourage each of these groups to meet on a frequent basis throughout the process.
Working sessions can be used to clarify departmental interdependencies. This context will assist the design team in reaching out to the appropriate project stakeholders in the proper order during feedback gathering.
Consider Continuing Discovery and Research as Development Gets Underway
On smaller projects, the breadth and complexity of the challenge being solved by the design team can frequently be quickly comprehended and mapped in one or two four-hour ideation sessions. Even on small-scale projects, designing and developing for the company adds complexity. Overlap between departments is increasing. The project may evolve as the budget expands or contracts. As workflows between new and old solutions are defined further, additional integrations with legacy applications may be required. As new problems are presented and handled, ongoing discovery sessions can help your team learn and evaluate assumptions.
During project team onboarding, cultivate a culture of transparency.
Establish communication/meeting norms and frequency.
Right away, meet to develop openness between the company and the design team. How frequently should your design team expect to meet with or receive input from leaders? Which communication channels are preferred by project stakeholders: Email, Slack, Skype, or another method? Is there an open-door policy, or do meetings take precedence?
Describe the Company's Culture
Any information project stakeholders may provide regarding company-wide processes will assist the design team in swiftly assimilating and receive input without missing critical communications or establishing habits that will be difficult to change later in the process.
Encourage Participatory Design
Structure Stakeholder Working Meetings Throughout Each Major Project Phase
Throughout the design phase, our teams have found success in partnering with project advocates to chart workflows and map solution interdependencies. Use this opportunity to test hypotheses and validate assumptions before proceeding or presenting to larger groups inside the organisation.
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