Don’t Just Create Specifications – Deliver Experiences

A perfectly symmetrical flowerTo UX designers, order, symmetry, and perfection equals beauty. Our carefully colour coded journey maps, pixel perfect high fidelity prototypes and beautifully annotated wireframes convey a wealth of detailed information and help our clients and project teams to visualise and understand experiences, and we like them to be comprehensive, accurate and detailed. As a result, we can spend happy hours aligning arrows, synching up reference numbers, and mocking up interactions in our prototypes to work exactly as we intend. Most of this can be useful. But is all the time we spend crafting really worth the spending?

As I progress in my UX career, I am beginning to understand that the value of UX work is not just in delivering beautiful product specifications, although this is still a necessary prerequisite. Our true value comes at a strategic level – with bringing a holistic customer centred approach, inventing new products, doing the multichannel thinking, and steering the experience design in the way it should go. In order to get the headspace to do all this, we may need to give up some of the time we would normally spend on our UX deliverables. This may mean increasing our use of things like templates. Using sketches instead of full blown wireframes. It could also mean (horror!) giving up some dearly loved artefacts altogether where we can. It could mean the simple self-discipline to stop tweaking when we cease to get a great deal of value from it.

There are big advantages to working light. The success of the agile UX approach and the rise of lean startup UX thinking give us many good reasons to go light on documentation. This can seem a risky business. If we don’t deliver beautiful and complete things, how will our client / boss / co-workers know that we are bringing value to the project? What do we bring to the table if not our own unique deliverables?

Silence that inner voice. Stop defining your worth as a UX designer by the perfection of your UX deliverables. Your one and only lasting deliverable is really the experience that gets delivered to your customers. Spend more time with your developers actually crafting the real product. Design time is precious. We have the unique ability to weave together customer, business, research and technology to create elegant solutions to thorny problems. We need to maximise the time we spend doing design thinking, and cut down on things that distract us. We need to begin applying all our design skills on the real problems – less on honing our widget alignment and much more on developing and delivering products and experiences that transform how people live and work.

This post was inspired by:
Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business”, by Jeff Gothelf

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