Undercover User Experience Design: Making It Real
However deeply you have investigated the problem and however many creative ideas you have produced, you’ve little to show for your time until you turn your work into something concrete.
It’s time to make things real. Where objectives, requirements, and unrequirements previously took a backseat to exploration, you should now look carefully at which of your ideas meet both business and user needs.
It’s natural to have a hunch about which ideas you want to pursue. Now you should combine these diverse concepts into a more definite form. You’re moving toward a complete design by adding detail, but there’s still room to change your mind and tweak your designs as you go.
The Role of Deliverables
We don’t like jargon, but sometimes we’re stuck with it. The word deliverable has become part ofthe UX vocabulary—a way to describe the outputs that UX designers share with stakeholders.
Whether these outputs are personas, sitemaps, or wireframes, creating deliverables is a craft that demands practice and expertise in the tools of the trade. It’s not surprising, then, that user experience designers are sometimes guilty of “fetishizing” deliverables, seeing their creation as the raison d’être of great UX design. To an extent, this attitude is understandable since designers are often judged on the quality of their deliverables. There’s nothing wrong with aiming high, but remember that in our manifesto we pledged allegiance to delivery. Deliverables are a stop on the journey, not the end of the line.
The most important role of deliverables is to document your design choices. Deliverables play an important role in the success of the project, helping you to communicate key concepts and the project’s direction. They also reduce project risk by recording decisions made throughout the process.
But deliverables are more than mere documentation. They’re also useful design tools. Just as a visual designer uses graphics software to work up an idea into a full page mockup, the UX designer needs a medium for refining ideas. Particularly in the early stages of project, the act of creating the deliverable can be as valuable as the deliverable itself.
Wireframes, personas, sitemaps, and other deliverables are therefore living documents, steadily getting closer to the final design with time. Some organizations struggle with this suspended uncertainty, believing that if a design is on paper it’s final. If you work for this kind of company, be careful not to let people fixate on early designs.