For some people, design is something that comes at the very end. It’s just the sprinkles on the top of the cake. Designers make the product pretty, right? Not exactly. So how should the design process look like and when should designers be included in it?
Define your goal
No matter if you are designing an application, a website or an internal system for your employees, you have to define your goal. What is the goal of your product? Why should your users use it? What would you like to achieve? Defining the vision of the product will help you to plan the next steps. At this stage, it’s worth getting to know more about three voices: the voice of the business, the voice of the market and the voice of the customer. All of these voices will help you to diagnose your business situation. It will make the process of launching your product into the market easier. Is this the moment to include UX Designers? Someone might say it’s too early. However, designers need all this information to design the final product. They have experience in creating products, so don’t be afraid to use their knowledge from the very beginning of the process. You can assume that it’s not their main job, they’re hired to design. However, a good approach indicating a high level of design maturity is one that shows that designers are not treated only as people responsible for creating mock-ups. They can contribute a lot to the early stages of the project, so don’t hesitate to include them in the process. Ana Isabel Garza, Experience Design Lead in PepsiCo and a UX-PM alumni also confirms this: “ I think that the most important challenge that we’ve managed to really overcome is the idea that design is something that comes at the end of the process. It’s sort of like the sprinkles on top of the cake, like you bake the cake and then you hand it over to the Design Team who makes it pretty. But once you manage to get everyone to understand that design is really a team sport, that designers can not do something good if they’re not a part of baking the cake, if they’re not a part of the early stages of defining your product, it will get easier with each new project”. Ana Isabel was one of the speakers at the UX-PM webinar: “How does UX change organizations”? You can watch the webinar recording here: CLICK
When you prepare a new version of your product or a brand new product, remember about the value of prototyping. You can skip this stage, but be aware that it’s definitely easier and cheaper to implement changes into the prototype than into the final product. A high-fidelity prototype is not always needed. If you have basic drawing skills you can even design prototype on a piece of paper. However, if you have UX Designers in your team, don’t hesitate to use their skills. Prototype enables to imagine the product. It will help you in discussions with the customer or other stakeholders. You can also use it in usability testing. Discovering bugs in the prototype will help you to improve it and avoid bugs in the final product. A prototype also helps to make sure that the whole team understands the product and its features in the same way. That’s why UX Designers should also be involved at this stage. Their perspective will definitely help you prepare a product that will be useful and attractive.
Ask your users
In the process of creating products, designers are doing a very important part of the job, they visualize the product and make it useful to a user. However, don’t forget about the value of UX research. If the prototype of your product is ready, remember to test it with potential users. It will help you to diagnose what needs to be changed in your product. Including UX designers in this stage is also valuable. They can observe the usability tests or interviews conducted by UX Researchers. Participating in this process can help them to satisfy users’ needs even better. This knowledge will help them to design the final product. Of course, they can only read the UX research report prepared by a UX researcher, but observing how users interact with the product will definitely be more valuable.
Last, but not least
Once you have defined your goal, built a prototype, and tested it, you can focus on the visual part of the product. This is the moment when the main job of UX Designers is showing up, but including UX designers only at the end of the process would be a loss for the whole project. In organizations with a high level of design maturity, the opinion of everyone involved in the process is important. “The same thing happens with the other teams, like the legal team, the compliance team or whatever other team that is involved in the process. If they’re included at the end of whatever you are creating, then it’s not the same intent in making things work correctly. So for me, it’s really learning how to work as a team with different disciplines, different profiles” – added Ana Isabel Garza. Creating products is difficult when you’re the only person with a UX mindset. To contribute to building the UX mindset in your organization, try to include all stakeholders from the very beginning. Everyone should be a part of the cake called design.