Join Drew Bridewell for an in-depth discussion in this video Pitching your next user experience idea, part of Practical UX Weekly.
- An idea can come to us when we least expect it. It could happen during your commute to the office, over a dinner conversation, or even over a cup of coffee. The truth is, you never know when or where one will pop up, but when it does, do you have a process of taking that idea, developing it, trusting in yourself, and sharing it out with your team? Do you question the idea and quickly toss it into the trash when a single person shoots it down? Or have you been so passionate about solving this problem that you took the initiative and immediately started creating a solution? You might have had a vision of how your idea would work, and you just couldn't put the pencil down or couldn't step away from your design program until that vision was on screen or paper.
In this episode, I want to guide you in selling that idea from start to finish. It's my goal to show you the benefits of exploring ideas that aren't necessarily part of your daily workflow. I'll cover the foundations of what you will need and the questions you'll need to answer, as well as pro tips that can help you move faster and overall have a heck of a good time. So if you're passionate about pitching your big user experience ideas, then let's get started. Before we look at the tactical side of pitching your ideas, let's quickly jump into the benefits around generating original, non-scheduled, non-planned ideas, and how removing the pressure and fear of failing can bring out some of your best work.
Let's look at some benefits when trying new ideas that don't relate to your daily work responsibilities. Exploring without boundaries. This can help you look at solutions differently as you're not restricted to particular requirements. As creators, we're typically beholden to the immediate needs of the company. However sometimes the best solutions could be the simplest ones or even the silliest ones. Sometimes we just needed to look at the product through an entirely different lens.
Less risk. When you don't have a specific deadline, there's naturally less risk involved. Designers typically have week to week deadlines and deliverables that need to get to your engineers and key stakeholders. When you remove those handoffs and other dependencies from your process, it can help you think about the bigger picture versus executing on specific tasks that need to be handed off at a specific time. Remove daily limitations.
No limits can sometimes make things more difficult, but allowing for this flexibility could help you exercise another side of your creative spirit that you can benefit from while potentially breaking new grounds. Now let's move into some basic foundational questions you will need to answer as your new ideas come to life. These questions also translate to your day to day product design iterations. By answering these over and over, you can help build the habit of naturally asking these questions, as well as being a better self-critic of your own work.
So here's what you'll need to know or have when pitching your next idea. What's the problem? Why is it a problem? What is your idea? Make sure you have a design prototype. What is the business impact? And be mindful of the timing of your pitch. Now let's look at each one of these starting with the problem. Stakeholders need to feel the problem. It can help you and your idea if you have statements and qualitative feedback about why the problem you're describing is an actual problem.
If there isn't an exact problem that you can discuss, then relate it to an existing behavior in the industry, and speak to how your idea can help improve those behaviors. Why is it a problem? Knowing the why of any problem is really difficult to define. There can be different types of personas, and the behavior of each persona could be very different depending on their context. For example, in our learning product, we could have a learner who is trying to get up to speed on Adobe After Effects.
But their company wants them to focus on product management fundamentals. So in this scenario, we have a learner who has two learning tracks, and the product should be able to support it. Knowing and understanding the why can and should be an ongoing investigation for you. So being able to share your perspective of the basic why is a fundamental expectation when pitching your next idea. What is your idea? Now that you have your idea in working form, it's important to evolve it into a form that can be shared and discussed.
I use an app called InVision for posting my process and work because it allows you to share your prototype quickly and easily through an online tool. At this point in the game, you know the why, and the problem you're solving. The basic expectation is that you can describe your idea in one to two sentences, or in an elevator ride, 20 to 30 seconds. If this is difficult for you to do, then think about how you can simplify your idea. That way you can articulate it.
Design prototype. Humans are visual creatures. They also like to feel, touch, and naturally connect. Which means we need to provide more than just words for an idea. We need a prototype. A preliminary model of your idea. A prototype could be a wireframe, pencil sketch, or a high-fidelity mock up that you upload to InVision. I'd recommend using InVision, a prototyping platform that integrates Photoshop or Sketch so you can easily share your link, allow commenting, and then use this as your prototype to help sell your idea.
You can make your prototype an even more realistic experience by adding hotspots. InVision also has support to share your prototypes as a native app on an iPhone or an Android device. It also has functionality where you can implement gestures, that can help your prototype come to life even more. These micro-interactions and hotspots help sell your idea, and by having them ready to go it shows your drive and initiative. It becomes a win-win, in that a prototype is able to capture a realistic experience without your team of engineers having to spend countless hours implementing an idea that hasn't even yet been validated in the market, or by our key stakeholders.
Business impact. Think about how your idea is going to impact the bottom line. Which metrics is it going to improve? How much revenue could it potentially bring in? If you don't know how to put together the business impact, then I'd suggest reaching out to a business operation specialist in your company or find a product manager who could help you determine this. Even if they don't like the idea, that is okay. You'll want to see both sides, and why it might be a bad idea, so you can continue to grow and see new perspectives.
Timing of your pitch. Is the timing right? For example, does your idea relate to existing product initiatives? Is your team under a lot of pressure to get a different feature out the door? Was there a change in team structure, or new management? It might just not be a good time. Or is your team currently brainstorming new ideas on how to increase revenue, engagement, and member retention? Being mindful of these types of questions can help you strategically align your new idea with the team's primary objectives.
If the timing isn't right, then try not to get discouraged. Keep your ideas brewing, but be open to the fact that there could be a better time to pitch your idea. Now I want to share some quick pro tips you can immediately implement into your day to day. Use company events like hack days to help your ideas come to life. If you're feeling passion about fixing a problem, and can visualize the solution, then write it down, sketch it out, design it, create it.
At the very least, write it down. Come up with a list of why this isn't a good idea. Be your own devil's advocate and try to think of at least five different issues. Discover the organizational drivers. These are the people in the company that get great ideas shipped. Reach out to these people and share your ideas. If they bash your idea, find out why, then go back to the drawing board and get a diverse level of feedback from others. Then iterate, and go back to them and pitch it again.
Failure in product design is going to happen, but it's about how you learn and grow from those failures. Pitching ideas can be scary and intimidating, but the more you do it, the more you will feel comfortable with the responses, and learn how to prepare better for the next time. I've played baseball for most of my life, and one thing I've always remembered is even if you have a batting average of 300, which is three for 10 for the majority of your career, you can still be inducted into the baseball hall of fame.
It's not just about the batting average, it's about consistency over time. Taking risk and going up to bat. So today I shared best practices and questions to consider when pitching your next UX idea. If you enjoyed this topic I would love to continue the conversation on our Practical UX Weekly LinkedIn group, or you can tweet at me @abridewell with the hashtag pitching my UX idea to ask questions or share any key takeaways. I wish you the best in pitching your next idea.
Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.
To continue the conversation started in this course, with Drew and other user experience professionals, join Drew's Practical UX: Lessons from the Trenches LinkedIn group.
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