Monday, July 6, 2020

Lessons from Mobile Matters: The Launch Isn’t The End, It’s Just The Beginning

We live in a world where faster is always considered better. Think about when you were a kid and your parents wanted you to do something for them so they said “I’ll time you”, and then you took off at full speed to go do whatever they asked. Why? So you can prove how fast you can do it. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes faster is better (why else do we all have Amazon Prime accounts), but when designing you shouldn’t lose sight of quality just so you can finish a project faster. This is one of the many valuable lessons Dan Laughlin shares in his Mobile Matters episode. Dan is the Senior Director of User Experience at IBM iX, and has some great insight into the design process and how you can do it quickly, while still maintaining a quality design that incorporates customer feedback.

Listen to Users – They Know What They Want!

Yeah, this might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t just simply listen to their users and what they want. The people using your design are going to be the ones who can provide the best information on what is working and what needs improvements to create a better user experience. So, how do you find out what your users think? Talk to them! Okay, I may be over simplifying this, but it is not hard to hear from users. And if you can’t directly talk to them, observe them using your product, sometimes this is even a better way to determine how effective your design is because body language doesn’t lie. However you go about it, make sure you aren’t overlooking the importance of customer feedback.

Balancing Speed and Design 

So, let’s talk speed vs. design and why we need to stop pitting the two against each other. For so long we have had the mindset that we have to choose one or the other. Either we rush through the design process so we can get a product out on the market quickly, or we take our sweet time to make sure every single thing is perfect. I’m not going to say either way is right or wrong… but what I will say is both speed and a quality design are important, so why compromise one? Dan discussed the idea of design thinking workshops, a workshop specifically to help you get through the design process, accumulate all of the great ideas in the room, use them to create even better ideas, and do it all in a timely manner. These design thinking workshops start with doing research, and understanding the people who are going to be using the product (this goes back to the whole ask your users what they like) and then you move into stages of brainstorming with your team. For this stage you want to bring in the entire team whether it be designers, developers, or other stakeholders in the company. They should all be involved. Then you can move on to. drawing mock-ups and coming up with the final design. There is a lot of work that goes into one of these workshops, but if you follow the flow you can produce great product designs, with a great user experience, without having to sacrifice the timeline of the project.

A Project Doesn’t End at The Launch

I want to start by saying I know it’s exciting when a product launches. Trust me, I get it. So if you want to feel accomplished and cheer or pop champagne or eat cake to celebrate that you got a product out on the market – go for it! But promise me right after you’ll get back to work, and you won’t mark the project as complete. After a product launch is the exact time that you want to be paying the most attention. You should be using analytics to measure your success, and making sure the product is working as it should be. Also, keep in mind that it’s okay if the product version at the launch isn’t the final version. In fact, it probably won’t be! You should constantly be looking for enhancements to the products, and be ready to quickly reevaluate and redesign if you see something that can be improved. If you call it quits after the launch you are actually doing a disservice to your customers.

Set Goals and Measure Them 

When it comes to product design, set goals and measure them. If you are tracking multiple analytics, that is awesome, but that data really doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have KPIs to measure it against. Before a product launches or before a redesign launches you want to have set goals that will determine the success of the project. That is the only way you will know if the product did well or was a flop. Also, make sure that you have more than one measurement of success. Collecting analytics will give you the overall story of what’s happening, but you need multiple inputs in order to really determine success.

Dan had a lot of valuable insights to share with us. If you want to learn more about design, UX, and design systems listen to his full Mobile Matters episode.