16 Oct 11:15 — 12:15
About the session
Have you ever worked on a design only for it to be pulled at the last minute? Ran a design sprint then moved onto something else at the end of 5 days? Presented research recommendations that don’t make it into the final solution?
There is a lot of great experience design that never sees the light of day, and this is not due to a lack of research or design capability, to deliver a great experience to the world requires effective decision making at the beginning and throughout product development.
When the emphasis is on ‘delivering’ at pace, we often succeed in delivering something quickly but fail to deliver value; or we research, design and develop things efficiently but make decisions slowly. Product teams celebrate launching a product or feature without understanding of the value they’ve delivered to users and how that maps to business outcomes.
Designers and Researchers are embracing techniques from Design Sprints to Design Systems to enable teams to deliver at pace; we have research and analytics tools that can deliver insights faster than ever. However, the tools and techniques on their own are not enough to deliver a great user experience. Delivering experience involves every part of the product development process, and as we move through this process we need to work hard to keep the user at the centre, and empower teams to hold this thread when the user experience designer or researcher is not around.
Ultimately a user experience only exists once it has been delivered, and the biggest blocker to delivering is decision making.
Decision making happens in the spaces in between: before conducting a design sprint - what is the problem you are solving? Is everyone aligned on this problem? Is a design sprint the right next step to solve this problem?; when transitioning from a design sprint to a first iteration - what do you build first? what should you test? what’s the minimal acceptable level of quality? What don’t you need to build?; when moving from an MVP to an optimised product, what are the results from your tests? How should you improve it? When should you stop iterating and do something else?
It’s in these spaces that we are most at risk of losing momentum and getting distracted by internal feature requests or subjective ideas, and it’s in these moments where the user can get lost. It’s not always obvious in teams how these decisions are made and who is responsible. And decision making often feels like a vague, conceptual thing.
However, there is a structure for making conceptual decisions based on a clear sequence of actions. Decision making can be designed to ensure the user stays central to the direction of the product.
In my recent roles I have worked with cross-functional teams to experiment with various techniques to facilitate good decision making at pace, and ensure a consistent focus on user and business outcomes throughout product design and development. In this case study I’ll be sharing what we have tried, from design sprints and problem framing, to top tasks management and lean UX; how we’ve adapted these techniques to the needs of the organisation; what has worked well; and the things that continue to challenge us. We’ll also have a discussion as a group to explore these challenges and share wider experiences.