Recently, as I was in Fort Lauderdale to give a keynote at the UX/Dev Summit, I learned some very interesting things about the value of putting user experience designers and developers all under the same roof. Following are some of the highlights I would like to share with you now.
The last day of the event featured a “hack-a-thon” which is, basically, a day for multiple teams to compete on improving the website user experience of one of the sponsors. The teams talked to the sponsor to understand their needs and wishes for the digital user experience, and then took the rest of the day to analyse the situation, build personas, develop journey maps, collect pain points, roleplay the user experience and, finally, come up with a proposal and presentation that were all presented at the closing of the day. The teams were evaluated by a panel of judges, including the participating event sponsor, and the best team won a prize of $2,500 total.
What was most interesting was that every team had found similar issues in the existing web experience and, while the detailed analysis or solutions differed, most of them came up with major improvements. It was a perfect live illustration of the value of investing time and effort into analyzing and building better user experiences, as well as the power of skills collaboration. Different perspectives surfaced different opportunities and solutions.
A recurring theme was also the fact that the teams used many different tools or techniques that ranged from role-playing, using paper or digital mockups to map out the process and even going all the way with proof-of-concept prototyping.
Building a good user experience, or rather multiple experiences for different personas, is not by any means a silver bullet - nor can it be performed only once. This is a highly iterative and reactive process, constantly adjusting to better fit the needs and new lessons learned while getting to know your users better.
Good tools can definitely help marketers or product managers understand how best to improve experiences to get ahead of the competition and, in the best cases, innovate like crazy to deliver a ground-breaking solution. Being willing to think outside the status quo is even more important.
Being able to test quick changes, analyze their impact and tweak the changes might seem like a trivial thing but it is actually essential to users who are constantly struggling with websites that are difficult to understand, out of date or not usable.
Naturally, the same is true for mobile applications. Delivering user experiences should, therefore, not be thought of a static process or an effort that happens at a single point in time. Instead, designing and delivering user experiences must be a constant effort involving both designers and developers, and a high priority one at that.
How can you begin this process in your own organization? Start with a beginner’s mind where you are open to new possibilities and can see from fresh perspectives your user journeys, either external (customer) or internal (staff). Pick one journey for your teams (design and development) to focus on and work it through from start to end. With that kind of focus, you will likely discover the constraints and issues quickly so you can resolve them. Then choose another ‘user journey’ and repeat the process.
To learn more about how to begin digital enterprise transformation for better user experiences in your organization, please download the first chapter of our latest eBook: Choose The Right Mountain.