Key takeaways during UX phase

Discovery — Ideate — Define phase

I decided to come up with a list to document some takeaways I have learned from time to time in projects and readings and hope this can help others as well.

1. Prioritization in Product Thinking

In order to assist stakeholders to have a clear picture, we need to remind them on objectives/ business goals/product roadmap from time to time. This is to avoid them to be swayed away and vote based on their own preference. This is to let stakeholders know that decisions are being made together as a consensus.

Some use dot-voting. There are many ways to do this. It’s pretty common to have many business goals, features, success factor.. etc. from clients. For a small twist in recent project, we use ‘dollar-voting’ since our stakeholders are from financial sector.

“Think in products, not in features”

2. Meeting timeline

On early phase of the discovery phase, there are a lot of meetings. Product owners, stakeholders, UX team are required to be in together make consciences as a group.

Finishing meeting on time is important as it gives a sense of confidence to the client to attend your meeting next time and able to entrust you in finishing on time.

How to make sure time is on track during the meeting? Use a timer. By introducing your trustworthy iPhone timer as timekeeper in the beginning of the meeting, the stakeholders know they need to abide in certain timeframe. This is very effective when everyone are carried away from their own discussion.

How to make sure everyone are aware of agenda? Sticky notes! Write sticky notes of the agenda and whenever a section is finished, move the sticky note to the other side (do it in front of the stakeholders to make sure all aware of that) so they got a brief impression on the meeting progress and less likely to skip out of your meeting.

Parking lot. When one of the stakeholders most likely is going to carry away explaining things/issues(you have to pause your presentation), you can address the issue, write it down on sticky note, put it up on the parking lot and indicate everyone will come back to it when there is time. This not only will not offend.

What the time is running out? If you are most likely to overrun your meeting, skip section. It’s better to be on time

3. User interviews

Usually there are 2 persons (1 for note-taker, another one is the interviewer) under ideal resources. As we were in discovery phase, we set our objective in discovering participant’s journey.

How do we helps participant better in illustrating their journey? Sticky notes. While it’s still workable to have a Q&A session, it’s actually easier to organise or add details as we write down participant’s journey, some might miss some actions bits here and there.

How can I improve my interview skill? The notetaker can give feedback after each interview session, eg. the way of questioning, the art of bringing interviews back to the topic seamlessly. By offering to give constructive feedback, something that you might not be able to notice it by yourself, you can eventually improve from it.

Example, explanation, disclaimer. This should be the user interview 101 but I realize this is easy to be ignored. Without brief explanation on think-aloud concept, some participants feel awkward/confused when you asked them the “obvious” questions and think they miss any points to input. If you are going to provide recordings back to your client, you must ask for their consensus. We always begin with a general example before we ask participants to illustrate their own journey. This is to ensure they have a rough idea what to anticipate.

Example on my climbing journey

4. Deliverables

During each UX phase, there are deliverables needed to provide as output. To ensure there will not be any data lost, we digitalise the progress and findings from researches and meetings in documents(Eg. Google Drive).

  • Photo/Video: Beside photos, I like to use time lapse in one of the ideate sessions or kickoff meetings to remind stakeholders that decisions are made by everyone as a whole team and not from a UXer’s imagination.
  • Notes: Looking out for quotes, “important” stakeholder responses on issues, requirements/assumptions of the project and take note of client’s action that might influence user flow due to current regulations or architectures. Some of the clients might request for raw notes from your user interviews so it’s best to keep things :)
  • Presentation deck: Produce as few decks as possible. Do your content in the same deck(and enriches it on the way when assumptions are cleared) rather then produce another deck and do the similar content again in another overview deck again. The deck has to follow

I am a software engineer who involve in UX too, have a sense of product ownership. If you are interested with my post, please go to my website or my LinkedIn to know the details of my other projects. Feel free to get in touch with me as I always look out for UX-ers for discussion.

Current: Product Manager at Workmate • Always Software Engineer.