How to Communicate UX to Gain Buy-in and Ensure the Success of a Project
Miscommunication has a long history. And, unless you’re Michelangelo, you most likely would rather avoid your nonchalant designs achieving widespread fame.
Unfortunately, fate has its ways, and as a UX designer you probably see yourself as a misunderstood creative genius. You’re on the same wavelength as your fellow UX designers, but communicating the design outside and getting buy-in from product owners and business stakeholders is a completely different story.
In this blog post we’d like to take a closer look at what communication challenges you face as a UX designer. We’ll also discuss ways to help you avert communication pitfalls.
Trap #1 – The product owner. How to marry divergent viewpoints
The fact that user-centered design has been gaining in popularity in recent years has changed the industry and the way you work. It’s not enough to know how to do research and communicate with users.
These days, as a UX designer you need to have a broader understanding of the business you’re designing for. Not only do you need to balance users’ needs with marketing objectives, but you have to marry these two with the long-term vision the product owner has for the project.
And suddenly, an empathic creature like you who has been diligently working to develop the ability to see the world through the user’s eyes needs to shift to the business’ perspective. Not an easy feat to do.
Do not despair, however. There is a solution. To navigate these choppy seas, you need to make sure that an optimal communication strategy is established at the onset of the project.
Having a clear strategy in place will let you manage the fallout when, halfway through the project, the product owner decides to implement changes that would either degrade the user experience of your solution or, worse still, would bring the whole design process back to square one.
Think about what tools will help you: react quickly to the changes, make sure everybody involved in the project is on the same page, and communicate effectively.
Decide on the frequency of meetings and schedule a refresher so you have enough time to prepare the ground for it.
Trap #2 Remote teams. How to merge disparate locations
As a UX designer, you communicate UX with other designers responsible for both research and design. In our rapidly shrinking world, it’s not uncommon for teams to work in remote locations. This is a boon, but if mismanaged it may result in a disjointed project that is difficult to control and fit into the established timeframes.
To overcome the problem of disparate locations, you once again need the right tools: project tracking software (like Atlassian’s Jira or Confluence) and an instant messaging tool (we recommend Slack). Also, think about ways to send instant feedback in the most efficient manner.
Droplr is a remote collaboration tool that integrates seamlessly with both Jira and Slack. The integration is particularly useful and can do more than any other solution to help you stay within project timeframes.
Droplr lets you capture screenshots of chosen elements and send them in shortlinks via Slack. All it takes is ⌘+V or Ctrl+V, depending on your operating system. As you can see in the visual above, the tool allows you to annotate the file directly from Slack, which means you save time while reducing the chance of misunderstandings.
It’s a tiny but powerful addition to the software that’s already part of your workflow. It’ll feel natural to adopt it.
Trap #3 The project stakeholders – not the easiest to sway
Another challenge you’ll definitely run into are stakeholders’ unrealistic expectations of the project that threaten its success. They’ll have requirements like outdated solutions, or way too much content needing to be visible on the screen.
You need a way to persuade the people behind the problems to let you use your expertise and create a better solution.
If it’s a small side project you’re working on, you will get by without ginormous collaboration software. Leverage remote collaboration tools that let you communicate with visuals in a time-saving manner.
Visuals speak louder than words and will help you prove your point. Annotate screenshots, or record screens to capture the entire user path. Using these tools helps you convince your stakeholders that the sidescrolling they want is not cutting edge, that three clicks is not a rule, and that… their logo is big enough 😉
Convincing them of the error of their ways helps polish your reputation, too.
Prepare 3 versions of the mockups you’ll show them. Time-consuming? Maybe. You won’t regret it, though. The first version should be the one that toes the line. Conform to the requirements to the letter and comment on the pros and cons of the solution.
The second one is the one you strongly believe in and hope they’ll buy into. When presenting this version, remember to speak the language of gains. Another technique is to start with the misgivings you anticipate they’ll have and then address them.
Don’t over-emphasize the aesthetics of your work: quote numbers and focus on gains offered from the business perspective.
The third one should be a scaled-back version of the second one. Make sure you have it ready. From a psychological point of view, your stakeholders are more likely to go for the version you believe in most if their alternative is not the only one to disparage.
Effective communication in UX is not an easy feat even for seasoned designers. This blog post does not exhaust the issue for sure. We hope you found it useful, though. Feel more than welcome to share your thoughts in the comment section below the post. And stay tuned for the future feed!