After being involved in several UX Design Projects, I’ve learned that there are a few things that I have to make sure of getting in place first.
Most of them are related either to Team Dynamics, or my Personal Behavior.
And they surely diminish the probability of headaches.
So, I thought that this could be useful as a guide, especially for junior designers who are not accustomed to be in live-fire situations.
If you prefer reading offline, you can get get the PDF Ebook version.
Without further ado, here are my suggestions:
UXer! You Should:
Know What You Want From The Project
Understand what are your real, personal goals. Is experience? Money? Move up in the corporate ladder?
Getting this clear will give you a strong perspective, which is particularly good to maintain focus when things get tough.
Know What’s Expected From You
Before engaging the project, make sure you get crucial information about what they want from you. You can send 11 Questions to Start to UX Project’s questionnaire to make things easier. [ Learn how to use it with the ebook 😉 ]
As rule of thumb, look to obtain clarity in the kind of deliverables that the team is waiting for from you, and the deadlines for each.
Also obtain strategic information, like the stages of the overarching project and their due dates.
Ask if there are meetings already scheduled for you, the purpose of each one and the expectations about your participation in them.
Set Up Your Personal Boundaries
Prefer diligence over hard work. Based on your personal goals for the project, you should set your standards regarding the triple restriction.
Quality will not likely be “the best” because of time and resources constrains. Be a perfectionist if you like, but watch out for overtime. Usually, it will not be compensated with money.
Know The Personal Goals Of Each Stakeholder
By definition, a stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the project.
Each person has a particular agenda. Knowing that can help you relate with them, and give you leverage to negotiate agreements.
Make Empathy Your King
Before sending anything (an e-mail, a wireframe, etc.) take two minutes to think what is the other party expecting from it.
Then, highlight these factors. Make it easy for them to understand ‘whats in there for them.’
By the way, it is really nice for others when you use / abuse the spell checker. Scan every text you need to send to others.
Create Audiovisual Deliverables
Instead of having several text documents or commented images, go for a screencast video. Encourage others in the team to do the same.
Video creation requires storytelling, so this will force us to first come up with a script that makes sense to others.
Tell about the process that you use to find solutions. Mention the obstacles and the rationals that you used to surpass them.
Set Up Your Contact List
Having all the information about the people involved in one place is great.
Setting up a CRM-like system can be very useful, especially when you are working remotely. I use the Gmail extension Streak to get this done.
The basic information to obtain is:
- Full Name
- Location / Time Zone
- Optional: Their personal goal for the project.
Set Up Tools For The Team And The Client.
Use project management tools to keep everyone in the same page. I love Trello for this job.
When you set up the board, have at least four lists: To-Do, Doing, Done and References. They are pretty much self explanatory for anyone and will help with use.
Use the comments of each card as a logbook: keep it updated daily.
If you make changes, explain why. Make sure all the interested parties are receiving a notification.
For prototyping, use a tool that allows quick sharing. My favorite is Indigo Studio.
Ask everyone to create a folder with his name and use it to storage the project-related files. This gives anyone access to their work, anytime.
Ask Your Teammates To Keep Themselves Accountable
All lean methodologies require discipline. Be open and frontal about this when you have your first meetings.
Make sure everyone in the team know the rules.
For example: when using Trello, each team member is responsible for moving the cards from one list to the next and keep them updated at all times.
As stated before: it’s important to ask everyone to use the card’s comments as a logbook for their actions and decisions. They should also use mentions to keep the right people in the loop.
If there is a particular file mentioned in a card, it should be referenced accurately.
This adds traceability, reduces friction and avoid accusations in the future.
Be an evangelist on time tracking methods, like the Pomodoro Technique. This may have a drastic positive effect in the ‘results / time invested’ ratio.
Always Look To Improve Situations
Use a positive mindset, specially when facing tough situations.
Never bring problems to a superior or colleague. Instead, take a few minutes to think about an alternative solution.
It does not have to be the definitive, final one: we are looking for a starting point that releases pressure off your counterpart.
Justify All Your Design Decisions
When there’s a problem, there are multiple solutions. This is a risk when you have other stakeholders that can be in disagreement with you.
To avoid falling in ego discussions, always look for rationals that back up your conclusions, and mention them wherever the opportunity arises.
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If you have questions or feedback about this, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments!
Thanks for reading so far.