How to approach a UX project - March event review
If you’ve ever taken a dip in UX waters, you’ll know that the pool is deep. There is plenty to cover and explore, which is what makes user experience such a fascinating and sometimes complex topic to learn about. Quite often you’ll hear about all these great activities, methods, and insights that will be incredibly useful WHEN you actually get to that part of the process where you can apply them. But what if you don’t know how to even start a UX project? You might have been given a problem to solve or have been tasked with finding out about your end users and their needs. Cool. Now what?
Beginning the UX journey - how to start off well
With this weighty question in mind, we decided to go back to basics in our last UX meetup way back in March. We titled the session ‘How to approach a UX project’ and, drawing on the collective experience and expertise of those who attended, we explored what it would take to launch your UX project on the right foot.
You can see the brainstorm we came up with in the image below, but here is a summary of what we covered.
Before you try to come up with a solution, spend a lot of time understanding the business goals and the problem you’re trying to solve.
This point was emphasised again and again in the group. However we were cautioned against being distracted by the ‘loudest voices’, like complaints, a stakeholder’s agenda or generally what we think is the problem.
Understanding the business goals, especially before you even begin looking at solutions, is vital to the overall success of the project. In saying that, always test your assumptions throughout the project and, if you’re able to, adjust your course appropriately.
Have a beginner’s mindset AKA pretend you don’t know anything
When you’re trying to understand issues that the end user or stakeholders might have, make sure you ask a lot of questions. Do this through user research, interviews and workshops to draw information out of people. Be careful of your own biases and assumptions that can come out either in the way you phrase questions that might lead to specific answers, or even by not asking enough questions (e.g. you assume you understand the reason why they feel a certain way).
Write a problem statement
Once you think you understand the business goal/problem, try to form it into a problem statement. During the meetup we found it hard to provide an example of a good problem statement because, as with so much of UX, it depends on the problem. This problem statement guide feels like a good way to start out though.
Test, test, and test again
A big part of user experience work is iterative. You start out with an assumption based on research, you test it with users, validate it, and either continue down that path or discover that your assumption/solution needs to be changed. It’s quite scientific in that way. Keep testing your ideas and don’t be afraid to ‘fail’ or to be wrong. So much of UX is practice and process. Even if you have a tight deadline or have to heavily prioritise tasks, validating your assumptions and solutions will always point you in the right direction.
The best solutions always come out of the users themselves. The job of a UXer is almost to facilitate the discovery and implementation of that solution. Empower them through education, workshops, and testing to solve their own problem.
Obviously these are just some of the things that you should consider when starting out on a new UX project. We encourage you to do research, to talk to other UXers (like at the meetup!) and to learn through doing (practice, practice, practice).
Thanks to everyone who came along to this meetup - it was great to hear your thoughts about how to approach a UX project and to get your feedback on the new UX Wellington meetup website!
The website is still fairly bare, but we’ll be adding to it over time as we get feedback from our community.
Have a question, would like to be a speaker, or want to suggest a topic for our next meetup? Get. In. Touch. We’d love to hear from you!