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Death of a Design: 5 Stages of Grief


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EffectiveUI's Raschel Iarocci, Lead Experience Architect, spoke at Denver Startup Week 2016. Discussion description:

When a design tests poorly with usability participants it can feel pretty defeating — especially when it has tested well in the past. After this happens, your UX team may go through a thought process similar to grieving, first denying that feedback is valid, then perhaps experiencing anger, then progressing through bargaining and depression, to finally acceptance.

During her talk, Raschel shared contemporary strategies for dealing with each of these five stages, enabling the group to move past initial reactions and get down to the work of addressing the design challenges.

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Death of a Design: 5 Stages of Grief

  1. 1. Death of a design The five stages of grief Raschel Iarocci
  2. 2. Sponsors
  3. 3. Raschel Iarocci Lead Experience Architect888.310.5327 • Responsible for all things UX, from research through experience design • Currently focusing in the healthcare space at EffectiveUI @rascheliarocci
  4. 4. Denial Anger Bargaining Depression Acceptance Stages of grief
  5. 5. #1 Denial "This participant is just a weirdo, an outlier, the next will be better.”1 "It’s not that bad. Remember this design tested well in the past. We’ll be fine.” 2
  6. 6. What to do Denial Sit back and let your team experience this feeling1 Document usability problems but don’t feel compelled to share your thoughts/solutions just yet 2
  7. 7. #2 Anger "The moderator isn’t asking the right questions!”1 "Well, if only the development team built it how it looked in the mockups…” 2 "Your UX team is supposed to be experts, why didn’t you get this right the first time?” 3 "This problem can’t be solved with design; the content/business requirements are flawed!” 4
  8. 8. What to do Anger Don’t take comments personally 
 and change this energy from negative to positive 1 Conduct a ‘Design Studio’ workshop2
  9. 9. Design studio • Sketch (5 min) • Share (10 min) ROUND 1 • Sketch (10 min) • Share (20 min) ROUND 2 • Sketch (10 min) • Share (20 min) ROUND 3
  10. 10. #3 Bargaining "If only we had tested with a larger, more diverse group of participants the first time.” 1 "Oh, I know! Let’s solve all these problems with this one tiny design change here.” 2
  11. 11. What to do Bargaining Actively listen and support client design discussions but don’t offer false hope 1 Schedule another usability session2
  12. 12. #4 Depression "This is hopeless. We’re never going to solve this problem.”1 "What’s the point? There’s not enough time to make drastic changes before product launch anyway.” 2
  13. 13. What to do Depression Bring in fresh faces1 Organize a ceremony for demolishing the feature(s) that tested poorly during the usability session 2
  14. 14. #5 Acceptance "This is a very complex problem that needs time devoted to it but we have concrete ideas for moving forward.”
  15. 15. Discussion THANK YOU
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