Project management and UX design – hiring an expert

Application of design thinking in project management is vital in current times. Project management and UX design can benefit a lot from each other. In the previous article, we discussed how personas (Boss personas) can help you get buy in from stakeholders. Here we’ll discuss how to assess your situation and hire the best UX expert for your need.

We’ll discuss ways of refining your product even more before presenting it to the stakeholders. DIY Usability testing is used to find the most glaring problems in your product. Once you understand the real problems, you can make an informed decision about how to solve them depending upon your budget and time.

What are the things you can do before presenting the product to senior management?

Usability Testing (UT), your best friend

You can’t beat a usability test to unveil fundamental usability flaws in the product. In my opinion, it’s absolutely important that you do a usability test yourself. This would make you sensitive to the core problems yourself and would serve as a reality check. This will only take an afternoon.  You can take a look at this excellent usability testing article here.

Take help of your coworkers and ask them to use the product. People in accounting really make great users.

If you’ve personally invested a lot in the product in terms of time and effort, it will be a little tough for you to accept negative feedback about your product. But finding flaws sooner and rectifying them early on, far outweighs the product being shelved later.

Prioritise Problems

Prioritising problems is the key to better project management and UX design. Only when you find a problem can you solve it. This exercise is done, so that you know the problem is worth solving.

The UT session will give you about five to ten problems. Prioritise these problems into top three problems. Identify what is the nature of these problems, are they visual in nature? Are the user’s confused or have trouble understanding the purpose of the product? Are there any problem in the language used in the interface? Or they may be more fundamental in nature and would require you to rethink the application flow.

Weigh your options

At this point, if you’ve built the product without a designer on-board like a lot of development teams internally do, these are your options –

1. Discuss with your development team

If you understand the problems really well and are confident that you can solve them using the expertise present in-house, do that. Discuss with your development team, make them understand the value of project management and UX design. When everyone is on the same page, arrive at a solution which can be implemented within the timeframe.

Consider doing a second round of UT if time permits. It’ll tell you if you are in the right direction. If the problems are more complex in nature or at a more fundamental level, then you may need outside expertise.

2. Hire a graphic designer

If you are very confident about the functionality & usability of the product, but you think the product needs to look more appealing to the stakeholders, get a graphic designer.

If you need to level-up the visual appeal of the product for presentation, a graphic designer can really boost interfaces designed by most developers.

Mind you, this ‘dictated beautification’ almost never works since the graphic designer is not given enough time to discover the real problems. But sadly this is what most people are looking for and might work for some.

3. Hire a UI designer

Consider a UI designer if your are confident about the functionality but your users are committing errors or are lost while using your product.

A UI designer can polish the quality of the product at various levels. They will be more specialised in terms of understanding your situation.

4. User Experience (UX) Consultant

If you think the problems are more fundamental in nature, it might save you a lot of time by hiring a UX consultant. But consultant would be costly. A consultant will do an amazing job and will rethink the fundamentals of the product, its flow and everything associated with it.

They’ll generally take more time but it’ll be absolutely worth it. One point to note would be that, only a few consultants would provide hands-on design services. You’ll still need someone to do the hands on design as per their guidelines. But there are a lot of consultants that have a hands on designer with them.

5. Get a UX design firm to help you

A UX firm will bring with it a vast experience of project management and UX design, along with the deliverable. You’ll learn a lot about the design thinking process. They’ll have a team of people working on your product which would translate into more time and money. If budget is not a constraint, then definitely go for them. They’ll provide a holistic solution.

There are small and big design studios, so their budgets would vary, but the quality of the work will be absolutely professional and polished.

That’s it.

All that’s left is for you to confidently present the product to the stakeholders (senior management) and hopefully get a quick buy-in.

Once you do that and have a decent budget and time, consider getting in-house design expertise. Every team needs to have a small design team which can work closely on products they envision.

The success of your product depends on the speed with which you approach design. Don’t delay the design and keep it at the end as a mere beautification step.

While building products, involve design or principles of Design Thinking early in the process. Hope you make great products. And during the VP presentation meetings, may the force be with you! 🙂

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