WOW - Part 2: Communicating with customers and constructorsMay 8, 2020
What is WOW?
In my previous post, I explained that many businesses struggle to understand the true value designers bring to a project. To help UX designers overcome this issue, I’m sharing a methodology our group developed called WOW (Why On What with customers and constructors). This workflow demonstrates how to quantify the value of the design process and provides enterprise UX designers with a practiced and perfected path to achieve success. To briefly summarize, the WOW methodology helps creative teams focus on four important stages of a project:
- Uncover why the business (and this particular project) needs a UX
- Involve the customer early in the design phase
- Ensure the constructor (developer) has the right information during design implementation
- Convey the business value of the design
In part one of this blog series, I discussed the first part of the workflow – addressing why businesses should embrace UX design. Here, in part two, I will cover the next two steps of the process – focusing on communications with the customer (user) of the UX design and the constructor (developer). Keeping close communications with these two personas is key to any successful UX design.
Customer - Right brain of product
An essential ingredient in the creative UX design process is customer communications. You can think of this as flexing the right half of the brain during the creative process. This is where empathy really starts to come into play. Working with the customer directly helps bring the right needs, insights, and feel to a product. Customer interactions can help remove opinioned workflows and bring clarity to the early phases of design.
Customer interactions can be done through face-to-face or remote meetings. With the right set of questions, a designer can quickly gather enough information to make designs move ahead without ambiguity. During your interactions, help customers keep a “feel as if you are using the product” mindset and make sure you ask the right questions to ensure clarity. Your work here is to help them understand that you truly care about how they feel about using the product. Remember, it’s not so important at this point to consider “how” things are implemented. You’ll address the “how” later.
Because customers use a UI (user interface) or real screens to interact with products, you’ll use wireframes as the intermediary steps to help create the prescribed vision of the UX and achieve the final UI. You can then take advantage of these wireframes and use them to help communicate with the constructor.
Constructor - Left brain of product
Another essential ingredient in the UX design process is ensuring clear and accurate communications with the constructors of the product, aka the developers. This is like working the left half of the brain, where you need to be more concerned about technical feasibility and how things work from the developer’s point of view.
Spending the time to ensure a developer understands the interaction, component usage, and other subtle aspects of a design is very important for the success of the UX. This step in the process is called the designer-developer handoff. Oftentimes this important phase is missed in the design process because of time constraints, resource dependencies, etc. This phase is so important that it should truly be a non-dismissible requirement. This is why we have integrated it as a distinct step in the WOW UX-flow.
A strong designer–developer relationship based on mutual understanding is key for the overall success of a UX. Navigating this step carefully will help the designer identify any design shortcoming far before production release. It will also help the developer better understand the requirements and develop faster with less iterations. Design system approaches, like being three sprints ahead (3-SA), employing iterative development, and using UI templates, are all particularly helpful in these designer-developer handoffs.
By this point in using a UX design process, the designer has already added value to the product. Potential functionality gaps have been identified and competitive features have been added. Relying on empathy, the customer has been heard and the developer has all the information required to achieve the desired result. What’s left is using the tools available to demonstrate the business value achieved through the UX. In Part 3, I’ll discuss more on wireframes and their use in addressing the final stage of WOW, conveying the overall business value of the design.