Navigating the journey from ideas to end-users

It would be easy to presume that the role of a UX designer starts with ideas and sketches, and finishes with site maps and wireframes. However, I have found many more challenges that a designer must overcome in order to see their work reach customers.

The journey of an idea

The moment a little idea pops into your head is like the firing of the pistol at the start of a obstacle course. Think along the lines of Tough Mudder, but swap ice baths for creative differences, 6ft walls for tech constraints and electric shocks for unexpected business needs! It sounds silly, but the reality of getting your work in front of its end-users is a lot tougher than it may first appear.

The time it takes to move an idea from just a thought all the way through to live can typically last months or even years. Therefore it is very important for UX Designers to support their ideas along this journey, which involves working with the wider project team. Stop to think about a typical team for a website redesign. It would probably look something like this: Project Manager, Account Manager, Researcher, UX Designer, UI Designer, Copywriter, Front-end Developer, Back-end Developer, plus the client team which often involves many more stakeholders than you will ever meet. We're talking about dozens, if not even one hundred people who are involved. Now realise that any one of those people uncover a new obstacle for one of your ideas to overcome.


The 4 big obstacles

My experience has shown me that there are four key areas where ideas can trip up and not make it through to fruition. These are:

The three constraints of time, budget and technology are inherently intertwined as they each affect each other. However, there are specific details within each that are important to understand:

Budget
  • This has a huge influence on the amount of time that a project can run for
  • If affects whether 3rd party products and services can be purchased: stock photography, fonts, data sets, specialist freelance or agency services
  • Can affect the seniority of staff involved, both from the client and project team
  • May change the political importance of the project - high value projects tend to attract more attention.
Time
  • This has a huge influence on the complexity of build
  • Influences the number of rounds of iteration that can be carried out - rounds of testing, feedback and amends.
  • May affect the level and detail of documentation
  • Often affects the pace and momentum of a project, how much adrenaline is involved!
  • Can affect the strength of the relationship between colleagues and clients
Tech

The complexity of the build and development of a project can vary wildly. These are some of the biggest factors:

  • Time
  • Budget
  • The design
  • Whether any heritage systems have to be integrated
  • Whether any data has to be migrated
  • The skill set of the development team
Prioritisation
  • Due to business needs
  • Due to budget, time and tech constraints
  • (Hopefully) due to customer needs

Supporting your ideas from beginning to end

It is crucial to keep on top of these factors and to work with colleagues to push ideas past these hurdles. This is all part of the challenge of a UX project and I encourage you to enjoy solving the puzzles that they bring.

Read more of my thoughts

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5 things I’ve learnt from reading... "User Experience Revolution" by Paul Boag
Navigating the journey from ideas to end-users
Two sides to the story: the business and the customer

See all of my thoughts