What I learned from my experiences about the importance of the implications of your design

“Photo” by Dlanor S on Unsplash

Oftentimes, act as a bridge between user insights and business solutions. We go out of our way to understand our users, learn from them, and find ways to make our designs better.

A Brief Story

In a recent project that we had, the team underwent the typical cycle (very top-level): We get the client brief, UX goes into the field to get user insight, team brainstorms based on the findings, we come up with the big idea, everyone chimes in to make the idea come to life, prepare for pitch, present idea to client.

Given how we understood our users and the client brief, we decided to make an app as our core platform. I was the one who crafted the core design along with the main features and flow of the app. I had so many ideas that I thought would be great to have for our users and the rest of the design team seemed to support these features.

What about the back office?

It was only when I ran my app design by our business analyst (who’s in charge of costing out the entire app, providing timelines for development, etc.) that I realized all the implications that I hadn’t considered when I was drafting up the design. It was a simple question: “Who’s going to implement all of these features?”

I had completely overlooked how the back office will function. She does make a good point. With the app having a gamified points system, who’s going to update the scoring and prizes? With the app being able to deliver said prizes to customers, how do we handle fulfillment? Is there a Content Management System (CMS) that administrators can just go to for any changes in the app? What will it look like? The list goes on!

Furthermore, it’s not just designing how it will look like from the managing side, but also how the flow and interaction of that side will be. Going to the delivery aspect, how will the experience work if these are tangible products versus services? Do we just send them a voucher? How can we secure these voucher codes if ever? It becomes this complicated web of flows and interactions that you as a designer should consider.

(Left) Sample design for how administrators can create a new survey they can roll out in the app. (Right) Administrators can manage new tasks for users for more points and prizes.

Without considering the implications of our design, how are we supposed to ground our ideas into something actionable? Sure it’s great to have a convenient app that can do this and that. But is it something we can attain given our time and resources?

If you put for example a reviews feature in your design, have you considered the effects of that this will have? Because by simply adding a reviews feature, you then have to answer questions like: will we then have a user management system? should we have someone verify these reviews? how do we house this type of data? and many more.

Never Forget The Implications of Your Design

As UX practitioners, I believe that we have a responsibility not just towards our users, but also towards the people in the back office who make up the other half of our designs. So whenever you start designing a solution, always consider the implications of the design you’re making to all relevant stakeholders (development, operations, etc.). At the end of the day, UX practitioners shouldn’t focus solely on the front office, but also how the people in the back office work together.

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