“If you’re building a product for customers (not just for yourself), you’ve got to test your assumptions early on with your potential users.”
Test Your Assumptions Before Implementing Them: Introducing Enroll
(As a side note, I’d ignore the product pitch…I think whatever considered method you use to test assumptions is fine, as long as you’re doing just that.)
“Not everyone will agree with me on this, and it’s the subject of a future article, but I no longer waste time testing paper prototypes or wireframes on users. Just as they don’t work with execs, they just aren’t very useful with users. Push the team to get a high-fidelity prototype as fast as possible. The tools have never been better so it’s not hard, and most importantly, that’s when the real learning begins.”
– I’m loving Cagan’s article. It’s giving me a lot to chew on. I completely agree with this assertion that user research should move to high-fidelity prototypes as quickly as possible. When faced with paper mockups or low-fidelity wireframes, users have to first make sense of what they are looking at; they cannot just begin using the product, system, or service. And that completely changes the context in which the user experiences a design.
“An informal e-mail with key learnings and results [of prototype testing] sent the same day, is much more valuable to the team than a formal report sent a week later. Don’t bother with formal reports – your time is too valuable for this and they’re hardly read anyway.”
– Marty Cagan
Marty Cagan of the Silicon Valley Product Group (SVPG) wrote a letter to the design community discussing some keys issues concerning company culture and the design process. It’s worth your time to read it.
One piece of this article that I struck a cord with me is this:
Titles – usually one of the first actions a company takes after I engage with them is to start to staff a UX capability. So the execs start searching but they quickly get confused with the potpourri of titles. Honestly it just makes the UX community look like it doesn’t have its act together. From my perspective, we need to pick our battles, and this isn’t one of them. I’ve long ago adopted Alan Cooper’s titles of “Interaction Designer,” “Visual Designer,” and “User Researcher.” I occasionally use the title “Product Designer” for those few that really can represent the holistic design of the product – including interaction design, visual design and sometimes product management as well. Most of the confusion is with the various predecessors and derivations of interaction designer, including old titles like “information architect,” “human factors engineer,” “UX designer,” “interface designer,” “UI designer,” “user interface architect,” and “user interface analyst.” Same problem with “usability engineer,” “usability researcher,” or “usability designer” when talking about user researchers. I am glad to see our industry finally standardizing on “User Experience” for the design organization as a whole. If you’ve got one of these old titles and you want me to help you get a job, you’ll want to use switch to the standard title. Again, I didn’t pick any of these names, and you could split hairs on any of them, but let’s please not waste our energies there.
That’s the point of my project, “FortéFocus — your career guide to web design.” The web design community would benefit greatly from having a common resource that articulates web design roles and facilitates a common vocabulary for talking about the responsibilities of different roles in various production environments.
Cagan asserts that “User Experience” has been standardized for the design organization as a whole. I think that’s fantastic. Jesse James Garrett probably helped this standardization along.
Jesse James Garrett…made a pronouncement in his closing plenary [at the 2009 IA Summit] that “there are no Information Architects” and “there are no Interaction Designers” … “there are only User Experience Designers.” [Andrew Hinton]
He was being provocative, for sure. His point wasn’t that there are literally “no information architects,” or “no interaction designers;” the point he was trying to make is that each role in the design process is responsible for the user experience, for ensuring the quality and emotional connection of the user with the product being designed. It doesn’t matter whether each role (e.g. interaction designer, visual designer, information architect, etc.) is taken on by one person, or whether roles are distributed across an organization, but that the user experience is taken in consideration during each phase of the design process (e.g. interaction design, visual design, information architecture, etc.).
Probably one of the best ways to take UX in consideration and foster a company culture focused quality UX design is to educate designers about how each design role is responsible for different aspects of the user experience. In turn, designers will be better prepared to articulate to management and execs the importance of each role, and how different UX touchstones can affect the level of success of a product design.