Technology

Working With UX Teams In Software Development

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Most companies create UX teams (user experience) to improve the quality of their products and usability, so far so good. But at what stage are they starting their UX processes?

The role of a UX designer in software development depends almost entirely on the business culture and what the company believes this designer does. It is very common to believe that this role is linked to that of UI (user interface). As a consequence, the necessary tasks of a user experience designer such as research, writing, psychology, and analysis are left aside. If companies “educate” their workers about the importance of UX in the early stages of product creation, it will not act as a separate component of software development but will be integrated into the life cycle of agile development.

To ensure from the beginning that usability is as important as functionality, carrying User Research before starting the development process is basic for developers and the company itself. A problem that takes to be solved a day in the design stage, can take up to 10 days during the development and 100 days after the launch of the product. If the UX designer is involved from the start, it will save time and money implementing user-centric processes (UCD).

Stages Of UX In a Company

You have to transform the processes from the inside out.

In the initial stage, developers do not want to hear anything about the users or their needs, their only goal is to make things work. With this mentality, users are irrelevant. And they are forced to use something regardless of whether it is easy or pleasant to do so.

We are facing a stage of hostility towards usability. If your company is here, forget about promoting the user experience. To change things first you have to want to do it. Until the company is not faced with a design disaster, it will not be motivated to give importance to usability.

It is so wrong what I just commented, and that companies rely solely on the intuition of the design team to build what we call “a good UX”. You have to find a balance between the technical part, the design part, the UX and even the marketing. It is disastrous to trust only one type of profile for the design and development of any type of product. Anyone who works on a project knows too much about it to represent any profile of a “normal user”.
 
A small effort in UX generates great improvements in the user experience when the designs get a little injection of ease of use, they improve, that’s clear. The problem is that once that improvement is made, it seems so obvious, that the company itself may not recognize the amount of work needed to simplify the design or functionality.
 
According to Nielsen, another of the phases in which you can find your company is when it actually has and invests resources for UX and activities are planned for it. An example can be the user tests, which invariably take place later in the process of developing a product, once there is already a UI. In these cases the company expects the UX to act as a kind of “magic” that gives meaning to the interface. This is also contrary to recommended best practices, which require frequent and early testing, including the use of prototypes on paper.

Having UX and Development Teams Working Together

How can we improve the interaction of the UX team with engineering?

If we have a company, it is clear (or should be) the human potential of our teams, and we know (or should know) the skills of the people who form them. These skills must be transversal regardless of their profile: design, interaction, development and strategy. We must ensure that among all team members we count on all the skills necessary to develop all the activities required by our project. Hence the importance of creating mixed teams from the start, regardless of their roles.

Create an interdisciplinary team will make broad views from different perspectives. We must work on solutions and not just on requirements.

UX As a Catalyst For Change

It is possible that if your organization does not give enough importance to the UX. Because of that you can start having problems such as: the lack of involvement in the product design process, that the UX has little impact on the requirements, that the only importance is given to the usability in more advanced stages of the project … in short, an organization where the UX does not play a determining role.
 
The organizations that incorporate the UX in their methodology usually fulfill a series of characteristics:
 

  • The UX has a team with its own entity and has a transversal influence on the design and development of the product or service
  • Research and strategy are standard pieces of the UX process
  • The UX is decisive when defining standards for taking requirements, planning and normal quality.
  • The ratios between UX and engineering are between 1: 3 and 1:10, that is, one UX designer for every 3-10 engineers
  • The goal of working with the UX is to create satisfied customers that generate better results in the business.

Conclusions

There is still a lot of work to be done to make UX a step forward in organizations. The objective is to change systemically the way in which all the teams (marketing, product, design, sales) think about the creation of their products and services. But it takes more than giving your workers a wand to turn them into magicians when you decide that the UX has to become part of the project.
 
When more intelligence and analysis tasks are carried out, more products and/or functionalities based on the user will be created and therefore the UX team will no longer be considered a tool, to become the team that proposes instead of being just the one that executes.

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Article written by Ana Rosa González, User Experience Manager at Barbara IoT.

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