Tip #2: Make sure you understand the “why”
This is a huge one, and another lesson learned as a result of my Phase 2 mentor’s structured curriculum style. There are a lot of steps to the UX design process, and as a relative newbie, I realized pretty quick how easy it is to gum up the whole process by taking a misstep early on. For example, in my research synthesis phase on this current capstone, I had a lot of trouble nailing down my user needs.
I kept trying to make them too big, too complex, and in turn I muddied up the whole purpose of identifying the user needs in the first place. My persona was immediately off, and even though the motivations and frustrations were all there, the over-complicated needs threw the definition and ideation steps that followed completely off kilter. But, because of the tight timelines, I powered through the next set of deliverables based on the faulty user needs, and this set me back tremendously.
My mentor had asked me to try a new technique for definition and ideation by doing a set of POV (point of view) statements and HMW (how might we) questions. The idea is to, essentially reframe the design challenge, or “problem statement” from the point of view of the user based on the needs discovered through the research and synthesis, and then use the HMWs to define possible solutions.
These statements, in essence, are used to brainstorm all possible solutions. If the problem statement is too broad, you end up with too many solutions, and if it’s too narrow, you end up with not enough. I’ll bet you can guess which one I ended up with.
That’s right! Way, way, WAY too broad. And many of my solutions ended up addressing multiple needs, which at first I thought was a win — two birds, one stone, am I right? — but I later came to realize this is a major red flag (I was not right). The needs were not nearly specific enough, so naturally the resulting solutions similarly lacked focus.
As I result, I spent the entire week going back and re-doing each step of the process over and over again until I finally grasped this lesson. I had understood the process in theory, but when it came to execution, there still a way to go to turn that understanding into practical knowledge. After six versions of my empathy map, three user personas, another six POVs/HMWs, three brainstorming sessions, two sitemaps, two user and task flows each, and another two stabs at the product roadmap, (and one completely shot schedule) I finally — finally — came out the other side.
Don’t be like me. Above all, try to wrap your brain around the why of what you’re doing. There’s nothing more frustrating (and nothing less rapid) than having to redo your work because you didn’t figure this out at the start of the process.