Collaboration between UX designers and product designers is crucial when building new products. That’s why we hosted a webinar with Nick Kroetz and Courtney Starr from Prolific Interactive about the good, the bad, and the ugly of UX design; how UX impacts projects; and how to scale the process at a growing company.
Setting up your UX team for success
UX designers should create immersive experiences. And the work they do should be immersive as well — they need the space and time to do ample digging, and every once in a while lose themselves down a rabbit hole.
Prolific Interactive’s advice: keep your teams small, with ideally 5–8 people on a project and 1 project at a time. This promotes both agility and individual responsibility.
Scaling your team
As Jared Spool said, “Executing user research is a well-understood process. Integrating user research effectively into the design process is something many teams fail at.”
When looking at a job applicant’s skills, remember that design sense is important, but process and skills are teachable. Soft skills and emotional intelligence are of primary importance.
For example, when it comes to experiments and testing, there are specific rules to follow. Not everyone has the soft skills to encourage participant action and honesty, perceive dishonesty, understand biases, react to complex emotions, evaluate objectively, and turn those insights into designs. Make sure the people your hire have natural instincts to do these things.
When hiring, Prolific Interactive uses a design challenge — available in this resource kit (downloads ZIP file) — based on a real product that candidates perform as a test.
Working with partners and stakeholders
Practice full transparency with your partners (what Prolific Interactive calls their clients). Work with your partners in Slack, and consider them your coworkers. Communicate with them early and often. Rather than holding big, showy design reveals, share your work with partners as it evolves. By being transparent, knowledge will trump ego.
For example, sometimes users won’t like a feature requested by and loved by a stakeholder. No designer wants their work pushed around by a stakeholder, and no stakeholder intentionally wants to push their designs into something bad. Getting everyone on the same page about the research early helps unify opinions of the project’s direction. So, knowledge trumps the HiPPO (“highest paid person’s opinion”).
Ultimately, the UX team should be the arbiter of information and constraints. The UX team’s work shouldn’t end in a report, it should end in designs.
When recruiting users
To make participant recruitment a bit easier, cast your net wide to reach people where they are. That might even mean testing in the brick and mortar stores of your partners.
Use NDAs and participant agreements (get a sample in the resource kit). To help increase participation, come up with brand-specific incentives. And above all, leave some extra time in the process to research legal compliance and make sure you’re following all of the rules.
When handing off designs
Think of design handoff like a baton race. No matter how fast a team runs, they’ll probably lose if they drop the baton. Design does — and should — get passed around a lot during the process. UX designers will hand off to product designers; product designers to devs; the product gets handed to stakeholders; etc. Significant documentation makes the process smoother.