Why Businesses Fail Without UX

What may be obvious to you, may not be to your users.

At last night’s “Why Businesses Fail Without UX” meetup, Laurence Adrian, the UX Lead at Dom & Tom,  gave the audience an extensive number of tips about project management methodologies, user research, UX tools, prototyping, and user testing. By the end of the talk, I was feeling like a student back in college, taking frantic notes, trying to digest all the information I just heard.

Laurence broke UX into three pillars: Planning, Research, and Communication, although his talk mostly focused on the first two.

Planning

How you are going to prioritize what you need to build? How does it start?  Here is a quick overview of the three methodologies to choose from  (although in my opinion, Agile is the most important to pay attention to these days…).

Waterfall

We assume everything.

“A sequential process to product development whereby the product is fully defined and each phase of the project is dependent upon completion of the existing step in order to move forward.”

Failures likely to occur when new features are added, bugs are discovered, over-promising on functionality, unforeseen changes happen, or when there are changes in team structure.

Some advice if you choose to go this path?

  • Set a maximum number of revisions in your contract to prevent the release from never happening.
  • Post meeting recaps.
  • Get sign-off as often as possible (prototypes, functionality, etc).
  • Define client deliverables with due dates.
  • Start saying “no” early, under promise and over deliver.

Lean

We focus on what we know.

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Laurence Adrian

“Seeks to develop an efficient process for continuous deployment of a working product. The goal is to define the product by reducing waste and delivering the most value in the least amount of time.  More concerned with time than features. Significantly smaller in scope than waterfall. Each release is market facing and will deliver value, and will be tested at the end of every phase.”

It tends to fail when profits are prioritized over user opinions, it is a confidential project (no testing = no learning), when the research is ignored, and when there is a fear of launching.

Advice?

  • Build quality in ASAP (unit testing)
  • Work closely with development throughout the whole process
  • Define KPIs
  • MVPs must have a unique value proposition.

Agile

We don’t assume anything.

“A modifier to the lean method, agile is a method of achieving continuous integration of features via an adaptive approach to software development, where teams learn by iteration.  User satisfaction with useful software takes priority.”

Agile projects tend to have a product road map, sprints, user stories, feedback loop, validated learning, continuous integration, and quick response to change.

Your kickoff meeting goals for agile should include completing: user story mapping, sketching, sprint planning,  and testing.

User story mapping

Write user stories! Each user story is a part of a collection of related user stories called an epic. Blog5Its functionality can be programmed within one sprint, it benefits the user or contributes to KPIs, it can be removed from project without affecting other functionality, and it promotes understanding of scope.

“As a user I need to be able to use guest checkout in case I do not want to create an account.”

Sketching

Each team member goes on to create paper sketches the epics and user stories, intending to let individuals represent their opinion of the functionality they created. Often an epic can represent a webpage or one sketch with multiple user stories. Sketching validates equal understanding of user stories and project goals, promotes collaboration between team members, reveals missed opportunities, exposes flaws, gain approaches and strategies that solve the same needs. At the end, the team votes on which sketches will be prototyped.

To digitize the user stories and sketches, you can use  www.storiesonboard.com.

Sprint planning

As a team decide which features to build in a sprint. Dev team will assign points to each user story indicating effort. Points are usually based on the Fibonacci sequence (0 1 2 4 8…). Points are better than hours because it takes into account bugs and potential blockers.  Figure out how many points you can do per sprint (your velocity). You will get better at estimating that as the project develops.  Finally, add your stories to the backlog onto a tool like Jira.

Designing with my jam on – UXReactions

Research

Start out by conducting a competitive analysis to evaluate your unique value proposition and aesthetic is relative to your competitors.

Metrics

Reveal demographic information and expose opportunities. Establish your important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is crucial in order to measure what success is (i.e. increase satisfaction score from 3 to 4.5).

Some KPIs include: unique visitors, page views, average visit duration, average time on page, bounce rate, exit rate, page value, browser type, mobile, screen resolution, and event tracking.

Surveys

Poll the demographic to establish trends and evaluate features. Make sure to validate that the user is part of your customer-base and establish their demographic. Sample survey questions include rating features from most to least important, rating features from poor to excellent, asking about competitors, asking how they consume information, asking about their satisfaction with the feature, and having one open ended question. Avoid drop-down answers to questions as they tend to have a higher drop-off rate.

User Testing

Eye tracking measures unconscious behavior. Some common heat map questions to ask your participant are: can you login, what do you think the purpose of this page is, can you share this on social media? This can determine what to prioritize in mobile, what users are distracted by, or how to increase conversion by making desired information more accessible.

When doing eye tracking tests, remember: avoid think out loud protocol, subjective data is often skewed by the moderator, it only provides supplementary data.

A/B Testing

Compare two versions of same product and pick version with best conversion rate. It has been shown that it is better to break the information into segments because the audience can digest it quicker and more a sense of completion, and has also been associated with gamification.

Useful Tools

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