Join Drew Bridewell for an in-depth discussion in this video Sweating the details in UX, part of Practical UX Weekly (2017).
- Do you sweat the details when it comes to user experience? Do you review, iterate, and discuss improvements even after your first version of your product is shipped? Do you point out inconsistencies with your team of engineers, so they are aware of the issues? In this episode, I'll discuss the benefits of sweating the details, and having constant iteration on your product, both big and small. We'll look into why it's important not to skip this step, how to approach communicating the issues you find, and how the result can be positive.
You'll also have opportunities to transform your team's quality bar when it comes to product design. So let's get started. Have you ever had a conversation with your team about what your expectations are when you hand over your design specs? Do your engineers know you want them to make this margin 10 pixels, and that module fade at the bottom, or even that each of these buttons should have a click, hover, and active state? These details add up, and if you're not documenting them or sharing the details that need to get implemented, then most likely, you're going to be putting more pressure on your team and yourself to get it done in the last hour.
Rushing isn't fun for you or your engineers. It can also make it tough for an engineer to estimate how ong it's going to take when you don't have those details documented. I do want to point out that you might not have to document everything. It will depend on your engineer's working style and how you like to work together. To dive deeper into working closely with engineers, check out the episode in this series on working with engineers. Finding that common ground with your engineers can subconsciously train you and your partners on basic expectations.
If they know that you're going to point out the details in every project, then they'll be more likely to do a few things. Ask you for it up front, because they know you'll ask later. And implement it more closely to what you designed, which from an RI perspective is a win-win. This mindset also works for designers and product managers. When a team norm is established, it can help the team function at a high level. This also helps you avoid the back and forth problem between each team member. When it comes down to it, we all want to spend more time working on resolving user issues and not time focusing on our eternal team efficiency problems.
When working through implementation or design issues, there are situations when time is not in our favor. And you begin having to rationalize and prioritize what you fight for when it comes to those details. An easy way to do that is to establish, with your team, some basic expectations. Some details are unacceptable if they go out to the public, and some are just okay. But the ones that are just okay need to have a follow-up plan so you can make sure they get fixed or resolved in a timely fashion.
You can save yourself trouble by working hard to get it right the first time, because once the feature or project is shipped, it can be challenging to prioritize the polish work at a later date. The details matter, not only during implementation phase but throughout the entire life cycle of your product or new feature. From the moment you start creating your ideas, brainstorming, and doing your research, it's key to not take shortcuts on the things that matter most. For example, some features are going to have higher risks than others.
They could also have higher payoff if executed and delivered the way you and the team had planned. However, for those features that are lower risk for the company, you might be able to spend less time focusing on every last detail and prioritize your time focusing on that new venture bet. This will be different for each project, and it will be up to you to know how important this new feature is for the user. You can find that out with surveys, qualitative user testing, and market studies to get closer to the real impact.
There might also be times where you simply just need to ship it, and iterate from there. But share the details and work hard to not let them slip. Sweating the details sets you and your competitors apart. You can see the effort that a team puts in from a mile away, and believe me, it makes all the difference. Quality is valuable, and customer delight can affect your revenue stream. So next time you're stuck at the crossroads around which decision to prioritize, consider the tradeoffs you are making and bring it back to something you'll be proud of.
If you're not quite there yet, then find a way to iterate and make it better. There are also those times when the team is moving incredibly fast and the leaders of the team have to be decisive. Mistakes could happen during these fast times, but by sweating the details up front, you can catch those mistakes and save your team. My team of engineers and product managers have saved me many times, but this has taught me to focus on my attention to the details in my work, and be a hawk when it comes to sweating those details.
I'd love to hear some stories from you about sweating the details, and some challenges you might have run into during your projects. Tweet at me @abridewell with the hashtag details matter, or you can post it on our Practical UX Weekly LinkedIn group. Thanks for watching, and I look forward to seeing you next time.
To continue the conversation with Drew and other user experience professionals, join Drew's Practical UX: Lessons from the Trenches LinkedIn group.
Make sure to check out the 2019 version of Practical UX Weekly for more tips and tricks.
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