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UX Without Documentation

With the increasingly rapid rate of change in technology, it comes with no surprise that we've seen a significant shift in what clients expect from user experience designers. Remember when UX was traditionally a deliverables-based practice? As a Director of User Experience, I’m always re-evaluating how I articulate what I do, how I deliver what I create, and how that output adds value to any given project. Designing user interfaces still requires the same amount of thinking and attention, but our typical UX deliverables (site map, user flows, wireframes) are often no longer as useful or even needed to quickly realize a finished product. At a recent presentation at FLUPA UX Day in Paris, I discussed the principles and methods I’ve found helpful in uncovering the "new UX deliverable.”

In the following presentation, I offer some examples and recommendations on how to successfully evolve your practice and process in response to new client expectations.

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UX Without Documentation

  1. 1. UX WITHOUT DOCUMENTATION Presented at FLUPA UX Day, Paris, France, September 19, 2014 By Sophie Henry, Director of User Experience, Comrade
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION WHO AM I? Sophie Henry, a French-American living in San Francisco for the past 18 years. WHAT DO I DO? Director of User Experience at Comrade, a digital design and strategy agency with expertise in Financial Services, Healthcare, Technology, and transactional design. WHERE AM I GOING? This is the question from which this presentation was born. Why and how has my process evolved? UX Without Documentation
  3. 3. DEVELOPMENT METHODS Waterfall Agile FORMATS PC Mobile, Tablet INFORMATION ACCESS Local Distributed BEHAVIOR Gen Y Millennials TOOLS Graphical, HTML Frameworks, CMS THE SITUATION A blurred and constantly changing landscape has created new expectations for our profession. 3 UX Without Documentation
  4. 4. EXPECTATIONS HAVE CHANGED Traditional UX documentation (such as requirements, site maps, heavily annotated wireframes and specifications) is now often considered too time-consuming to produce and unnecessary. When we do not have direct control over project deliverables, three challenges present themselves. 4 UX Without Documentation
  5. 5. 1 Maintain the quality of our thinking while providing faster input 5 UX Without Documentation
  6. 6. 6 2 Maintain consistency and standards without suppressing creativity
  7. 7. 3 Maintain our influence and provide value 7 UX Without Documentation
  8. 8. HOW DO WE ADDRESS THESE CHALLENGES? There isn’t one simple answer to each challenge. Instead, it takes a multi-faceted approach. o Revise the tools we use to communicate o Adapt the content of our communications o Change our work methods and processes o Develop new skills 8 UX Without Documentation
  9. 9. PRINCIPLE 1: SHOW, DON’T TELL SKETCHING • Does not require any special material or advanced skill. • The unfinished aspect of the deliverable forces conversations about content, features and flows rather than design. TIP Have printed sheets with tablet and phone frames available. Print the frames close to full scale so that sketches are true to size. PROTOTYPING • Remains the best way to explain a flow. • Has become the tool of choice to collect requirements. TIP Maintain a matrix of prototyping tools and the type of projects they are most adequate for. Spread the knowledge about different tools among your team.
  10. 10. PRINCIPLE 2: PROVIDE STEPS, NOT DETAILS STYLE GUIDES AND PATTERN LIBRARIES • Provide as annotated graphics (red lines) or preferably directly created in HTML. • Should not only include the “how” but the “when.” Expose the reasoning behind your design choices. • Give developers the means to evolve the UI while maintaining its consistency. TIPS • Build the style guide or pattern library throughout the project to detect exceptions and conflicts earlier. • Learn to write the CSS files yourself. • Adopt the agile principle of designing only when it is necessary at any given time.
  11. 11. PRINCIPLE 3: CONVERT, DON’T TEACH YOUR TEAM • Use co-design methods (such as Pair Design). • Spread the responsibility of the design equally across disciplines throughout the project. The transfer of knowledge will take place naturally. • The collective thinking of the creative team is represented in the final design. YOUR CLIENTS • Expose your rationale, explain the process. • Make them participate (give them choices). YOUR USERS • Test frequently, without formality (Lean UX). • Consider participatory design methods. TIP Use innovation games and other participatory methods (e.g. www.gamestorming.com, www.innovationgames.com).
  12. 12. PRINCIPLE 4: GO HIGHER OR WIDER ACT EARLIER • Demonstrate the importance of UX design in the strategy phase. • Adapt your output to the target audience. Just as we tailor our interface design to the users, we can tailor our communications to different audiences. DIVERSIFY YOUR SKILLS • Gives you more ways to think about a problem. Promotes “brain flexibility.” • By learning the skills of team members your documents were meant for, you understand better what they need, and can eliminate documentation where not necessary.
  13. 13. CONCLUSION We’re responsible for adapting our work methods to avoid becoming obsolete like our traditional deliverables. This takes a shift in how we think about, communicate and perform our work. It means tight collaboration. 13 UX Without Documentation
  14. 14. FLICKR PHOTO ATTRIBUTIONS o Rodin statue at the Palace of Legion of Honor by outdoorPDK o Big Wheel Race by David Oliver o Painted Ladies by Anirudh Rao o Dual Bay Bridges by John Trapp o East Peak, Mt. Tamalpias by Esteban 14 UX Without Documentation
  15. 15. THANK YOU SOPHIE HENRY Director of User Experience sophie@comradeagency.com 510.277.3400 x 707 www.comradeagency.com

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