Understanding the Importance of Ubiquitious

My job as a UX Consultant involves explaining why internal applications need just as much attention to the User Experience as user-facing products.

This gives me unique insights into the perception managers have of design, and in turn forces me to rethink my understanding of what design is.

How I used to pitch Designs.

I think most designers have been there. You’ve worked on your little design screens for a week, ready to show your manager what you’ve created.

I used to believe that a design should sell itself. Eventually the end user would use the product and I wouldn’t be around to explain how it works.

I used to say things such as;

“Instinctively everyone knows that when things look better they are better.”

“A picture is like a thousand words, so just look at this design.”

Being able to name drop some trend words such as: Holistic Design systems, CX or Emotional Design, lets your managers know that they’ve hired the best talent.

Design sold, mic drop, pack up, done…
or so you think…

“You want us to spend X amount of resources, so that the user can do the same thing they can already do?”

— A Manager near you

Manager 1 — Designer 0

My manager defeating me in the ancient arts of Design-Fu

Why Managers think they dont need Design.

People have grown accustomed to services and applications working intuitively (Ubiquitious design).
Good design seems so natural that managers often overlook the difficulty needed to achieve it.

“Making something seem simple is one of the hardest things to do” — Jason Teunissen

Grocery list for our next project.

An example of a common project cycle:

A manager has certain goals (KPI’s), and devises a digital strategy to help achieve those goals.

User stories are created such as “can the user do X”?
After the development process all the boxes have been ticked, and the product is shipped.

Slowely managers become aware that people aren’t happy using their new software and decide to add features, or solve UX problems in seemingly logic ways (such as putting everything in a single screen).

Frustration leads to procrastination and lack of motivation.
One day you wake up and realise that the once fun office culture has become another mundane job.

Perceived resistance to the fulfillment of an individual’s goal”

An example of good UX project cycle:

A manager has certain goals and explains them to a UX designer.
A good UX designer discovers what they are trying to solve, and not what they are trying to achieve (mind blown).

The Product Owner (PO) creates user stories such as “can the user do X”?
The UX designer creates designs based on the user stories that not only solve the managers goals, but also play into the intrinsic drive of the users needs and wants.

The Designs are shared with the users and insights are gained, which result in the product being tweaked to suit all stakeholders.

One day you wake up and realise that you have the best job in the world.

Designers often harvest rainbow drops and embed them into user interfaces for more “Pop”.

What good Design Solves.

The way I pitch designs now is very different to how I used to do it. 
I’ve discovered that the most important aspect to address when pitching design, is to be able to answer the manager’s questions in the beginning of this blog:
“You want us to spend X amount of resources, so that the user can do the same thing they can already do?”
The manager wants this answered because he needs to justify this to his own manager why he needs X amount of resources.

“Its cringeworthy to see that customer support representitives don’t know how to use an application they have been using for over a year” — Pim Luiten (my designer mate)

The larger the company is, the easier it is to pitch design due to how small of an investment design is and how well it scales.

Good design;

  • Creates efficiency and reduces procrastination.
  • Frees up time to focus on customer satisfaction.
  • Helps discover valuable insights that were previously hidden
  • Reduces the amount of user errors that are made (poke yoke techniques).

What does any of this have to do with anything?

Fundamentaly I think all designers just want to make the world a beautiful place.

Understanding how Ubiqutious Design creates an anti design bias (especially within internal applications), will help you prepare when pitching a design to a manager, in turn creating the opportunity for you to help thousands of helpless users from a mundane existence.

When you see bad design, its not just a manager that made a bad choice but also a designer that failed to explain the importance of good design.

So next time you are faced with pitching a design to a manager,
Managers are people too.

“If you prick them, do they not bleed? if you tickle them, do they not laugh? and if you show them design, do they not assume it is easy and unnecessary?” 
– William Shakespeare

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