Costly UX Oversights
Whether developing a new product or updating an online service, we all want the results of our efforts to be that perfect triad of great design, excellent experience, and tremendous value. Getting there is a balance of what project activities and resources to prioritize and when to compromise.
Investing in the right activities at the right time will help your team hit that perfect design/experience/value triad. Foregoing activities simply because they take time or money is short sighted. We understand how it happens. Budget constraints are real, and teams are being asked to do more with less all the time. But, failing to meet certain expectations can result in disappointed customers, regulatory or legal hassles, competitor disruption, and loss of business.
We see teams opt out of certain activities or forget to include them at their own peril. Failing to include key people or opting to cut an activity can have costly results.
“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”
Dr. Ralf Speth
Knowing what to invest in, and when, can help you get to the right solution more efficiently. In the long run, that saves money every time.
Failing to Conduct User Research
Clients are often concerned about the time or budget required to conduct user research. And, yes, some types of research can appear costly at the outset. However, there are a variety of user research methods that can be employed throughout the project lifecycle to improve your product or service. Failing to do any user research can lead the team to make incorrect assumptions about what end users want and need. Developing unneeded features, or worse yet, missing key features all together is much costlier than doing user research to ensure you have a clear understanding of what will be valuable to your end users.
Conducting user research will help you understand your users better and it provides insights into what your users want and need. It helps you identify what is currently working and what is creating problems. Armed with these insights, you can develop a clear plan and direct time and budget to the things that will make the most impact for your business and your customers.
Qualitative user research informs all of our work at Crux Collaborative and we use it throughout the lifecycle to better understand what the users and stakeholders need and to validate that our solutions are meeting expectations.
Whether to inform early ideation or to validate that your solution is on the right track, there are a variety of research methodologies that can help you better understand what your users want and need and if your product or service hits the mark.
- Audience interviews can validate that your initial project idea aligns with the needs of those who will use the system, as well as meeting your business goals. This process also clarifies the gaps so your team can understand what to prioritize.
- Contextual inquiry takes the interview onsite. This is particularly helpful when you’re overhauling a B2B system that people use every day for their jobs. Seeing how they use your system, and how they work around it while conducting their usual work provides a wealth of insight about how best to optimize your application.
- A baseline usability test can help you understand what is working and what isn’t in an existing system to help you understand where to focus your time and budget as you update the system.
- A heuristic (expert) evaluation is a good choice if a full-blown usability test is not within your budget. Our team of experts can evaluate your existing site to provide a list of recommended changes to optimize your experience.
- With an unmoderated usability test, you can get quick feedback on your system or experience without the expense of renting a lab and trying to convince key stakeholders to take a day away from work to observe the research. You can test anything that can be made available online using this methodology, so concepts, prototypes, and live sites are all possible to test unmoderated.
- Moderated usability testing allows you to interact directly with your key audience. You can get more valuable feedback in a conversational setting that allows the facilitator to follow with the participant throughout the session to explore areas of interest that the participant brings up. This approach is invaluable if you can have key stakeholders observe the research. If you are struggling to convince your company that something is really worth investing in, there’s no better way to get your point across than to hear it from those who will be using your product. In this type of setting you can test environments that may include personal details or sites that can’t be made available outside of a firewall.
Failing to Collaborate Early and Often
Creating solutions in a vacuum is never a good idea, but then again having too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to frustration. The key to collaboration is knowing when and how to get the right input from the right people. And, when you find that right mix, collaboration has many benefits, including diverse viewpoints, better design solutions, and reduced design and implementation time.
One of our favorite tools at Crux Collaborative is collaborative concepting, which engages a cross-functional team to explore the possibilities for the solution by sketching a few aspects of the interface or service. Doing this allows the team to:
- explore a variety of options and proactively discuss their pros and cons
- identify any barriers and constraints
- agree on key features and functionality
- develop consensus from project team members and stakeholders
This type of collaboration helps teams work through a lot of the questions and issues that typically come up much later in the project, saving time and potential rework.
Failing to Involve Key Stakeholders
Failing to involve key stakeholders at the appropriate points throughout the project can cause the dreaded “swoop and poop” to happen. It goes something like this… the project teams work together… decisions are being made… you are a couple phases deep into the project… then suddenly a key stakeholder swoops into the project, like a fast-moving seagull, and poops all over the work without any context and understanding of the work done to date. They swoop out just as fast as they swooped in. The aftermath of the stakeholder’s visit leaves the team in dismay as directives were given that now result in time and cost overruns for the project.
Take time to consider all of the different departments and individuals who have or feel they should have input on your project up front. Figuring out who needs to be kept informed, when they need to be included, and what they need to approve or review, will keep your project moving forward smoothly.
We work with our client team to identify the stakeholders that will have influence over the project. Then, we incorporate review time with these individuals throughout project plan. We have found that projects run smoother when expectations are set in advance and time has been allocated to gather and incorporate feedback from the key stakeholders at the right time.
Failing to Account for Web Accessibility
Nearly 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. live with a disability which may impact computer use – ranging from mobility, cognitive, hearing, or vision disabilities. Failing to account for accessibility for these users can result in user frustration or, in some cases, costly litigation.
In recent years, there have been an unprecedented number of website accessibility lawsuits filed under Title III of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). In the first part of 2018, there were a little over 1,000 lawsuits filed. In comparison, there were 814 lawsuits filed in all of 20171.
When it comes time for planning your next project, you may not be eager to dedicate more time, budget, and energy to understanding all the nuances of web accessibility. More likely, you just want to be sure that you won’t get burned. However, accounting for accessibility will make your experience available to all of your users and it can make it better for users in ways you hadn’t anticipated. It can also keep your company from wasting time and money on legal battles, which will probably result in putting in the effort to make your service accessible anyway. If all that’s not enough, accessible sites have good SEO.
It can be tempting to skip early interviews because you’re pretty sure you know what needs to happen or forget to loop in a key stakeholder, but it can have costly results. Carefully consider including these techniques in your next project to make sure you’re delivering on expectations as efficiently as possible. If you want to learn more, or need a hand understanding your users or how to improve your organization's accessibility, please get in touch.
While your team thinks through the details of onboarding new users to your system, don’t forget about the times throughout your process where some interstitial onboarding can be critical. Don’t leave your users stranded as you introduce new complex concepts.
Do you have a mechanism in place to communicate to your customers and users if your site or system experiences a critical failure? If not, there’s no time like the present to identify a strategy that will inform your users of the problem and communicate key details about the outage.