Whether you design or redesign a website, an app or a system, it is a complex task which needs lots of discipline and clarity from inception. When a project is not approached properly, it can turn into chaos, requiring countless hours of work designing and developing unnecessary features. In any project where you work as a UX designer, it is fundamental to start by defining a solid strategy; this will help you design a solution that meets business goals and user needs.
Whenever you start a new project, keep in mind that user experience is about getting the goals of the business, the user needs and the brand’s communication aligned.
Nowadays, there are still designers who focus too much on creating pixel perfect designs without thinking well about the purpose of their solution. Besides that, they stay emotionally attached to they work and forget that the design should solve specific problems. As a result, they spend a huge amount of time designing something inappropriate and struggle to convince the stakeholder when they need to get any approval. Visual attractiveness has value, but it’s only a small component of a great user experience. Generally, the user cares little about the design of an interface. They just want to get a task done!
Now, I will explain to you why it is important to always start a project with clarity telling one of my stories: few years ago, I was working as a UX designer in a complete website redesign of a non-profit organisation where I missed defining a clear strategy. This project was though, and I did the mistake to work long hours by myself focusing only on the visual design. No need to mention that I had completely forgotten about the user!
Indeed, I have failed to spend time defining the user needs, the business goals and learn about the brand attributes of the organisation. Very soon the website project became a nightmare: every stakeholder was fighting to add tonnes of unnecessary features on the website. I know many of you have been in this situation struggling to get sign-offs and ending with cluttered and inaccessible pages for the user. In the end, the project derailed from its main focus and instead of being a six months project it has been a one year project.
Since that experience, I have definitely changed my mindset and approach while working on a project. If you struggle to get stakeholders aligned with your ideas and keep a project under its focus, always start by defining WHY? WHO? and WHAT?.
I always start any project by answering the following questions:
- Why are we doing this?
- Who are we doing this for?
- What value does it provide?
- What are the business goals and user needs?
- What can we realistically do?
- What are we creating exactly?
Starting a project this way will help you understand how to tackle the right problem. When working on the design or redesign of a project, it is important to lead your design process since the beginning and get everyone aligned with your process, considering all the main stakeholders; when they collaborate with you, they will feel appreciated and valued. One of the good benefits of this is that they are less likely to come with unexpected and complex changes at a later stage. They will listen and see you as an expert capable to diagnose a problem and provide the best solution for their business and user needs.
Focus and invest more time understanding how you will solve a problem before designing anything. As Albert Einstein once said:
“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes about solutions.”
Shaping the user experience of a project requires discipline. As we saw over the article, a good way to start it properly is to define a solid strategy from the beginning. This way, you will give yourself a good chance to succeed and deliver the best outcome for the project. Always plan for success. I will conclude this article with this memorable quote from Benjamin Franklin:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Thanks for reading.