Comment for Beyond Wireframing: The Real-Life UX Design Process
Original article: http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/08/29/beyond-wireframing-real-life-ux-design-process/
Author: Adam Nemeth
Not conducting user interviews... that's strange to me...
I think what I enjoy the most in UX is the preliminary user interviews. I do that, this is the heart of the job, the cherry topping on the cake.
I always point out to customers that I do need to do user interviews and / or field studies. I'm not drawing anything before that. I always tell them, they can't pretend to be the user, I'm sorry, I have to meet them for real. Even the "manager" of the users is not dwelling down into the everyday problems.
I do enjoy this because the users are those who have a problem. If the users don't have a problem, then the whole thing is f.ed. If everything is fine, then you can only ruin the world, so be good and quit the job/project you're working on, as all you bring is pain or you just waste the resources of humanity.
When the users do have a problem, they love it that someone actually cares about this problem. Of course, they'll tell you about a lot of other things, like, problems at home, problems with education / market, whatever, but that's fine! At the end of the day, at least there was someone who listened to their problems.
I always put great deal into sending back a detailed draft of the interview and asking them to "confirm" it, saying that yes, these are their pain points. This is more about making everyone care about what we're doing, by simply showing that I do care.
When the application is not an internal app, but rather, an external one (like, for a startup or a website), and we don't know the users, I try to grab some potential users, asking the customer wether they know some or trying to research some of my own friends.
If we can't find such people in 10 minutes, the product is a flip anyway: if the customer doesn't know anyone who might be interested in this, what shall we do? What will be sold?
Of course, you could quote Ford, the inventor of T-Model: "If I asked people, what do they want, they would have said: faster horses!"
In such cases, of course, I don't do user interviews, but assemble a working prototype instead. Maybe the prototype can do only one thing and the whole data is static (it's a powerpoint presentation with hotspots), still, I give the potential users a test-ride. How does it feel?
In one case, I was researching on how people use chat systems by grabbing around half of my MSN/Gtalk contact list, based on the target age groups (which we retrieved from the system itself), and did interviews with them online.
Of course, this could break a lot of NDAs, I told them I can't tell them which company it is, which product it is, and I trust them they don't tell it to anyone else as they're my friends.
If the problem is a deep one - with internal tools, it's mostly the case - I try to maintain close contact. I tell them: it's the customer who's paying for it, but you're the ones who will actually have to live with it, so, from time to time, every week or two, I might ask your opinion.
Sometimes I grabbed them while coming back / going to lunch, hey, a moment, sit down, what do you think about this?
Of course, you can't maintain deep contact with "potential customers", you steal their time. Still, whenever I have the opportunity, I collect the who-said-what (even through the personas), and send out a mail to them, saying, "hey, the product is in beta, you said this, that and that, and it's all there like you requested!"
There's only one thing what's needed for this:
T I M E.
I think that making an exceptionally great job, and having a life are more-or-less mutually exclusive, so I try to live my life in "batches": either I'm totally immersed in my work, or don't care about it at all. I understand this doesn't work for everyone, especially those who already have kids, but on the other hand - for those, who have noone to care for, shouldn't they concentrate bringing humanity forward, one little pixel at the time instead on themselves?
So, don't say it's a budget constraint: usually, where there's budget constraint, the time constraints are easier. And even time constraints could be made flexible, by you working 12-18 hours a day. I know it sounds harsh, but on the other hand, if you really love your job, you just don't care. You do what you love for 16 hours a day, so what?