More and more companies realise that seamless user experience is key to successful branding. UX is no longer the sole domain of designers. Instead, it is a company-wide concern. The truth is, it takes an entire team to build a first-class product, so UX designers need to be excellent collaborators.
In today’s business landscape, UX designers cannot work alone. The quality of the final product depends on how well you can work with those around you. So it is essential to recognise the role that your colleagues play. We take a look at five people who are crucial to your success as a UX designer, and how you can work with them effectively to ensure an unbeatable user experience.
Whether you are working in-house or freelancing for different clients, one of the most crucial relationships you will have is the one with the product manager. Primarily, the product manager conducts the entire orchestra. They take the grand vision from executive level and communicate it to the people who can make it happen – including you, the UX designer. Your very first mission is to get on their wavelength and truly understand what they are after.
First of all, familiarise yourself with the brand: what are the core principles and differentiating factors? At this stage especially, open communication is vital. Sit down with the product manager, preferably face-to-face, and discuss their ideas in detail. Be honest and realistic about what is achievable, and iron out any areas of confusion as early as possible. Forging a straightforward relationship with the product manager will ensure you are all on the same page from day one, preventing any misunderstanding down the line.
UX Researchers and Customer Service Reps
Of course, you can only produce successful designs if you know whom you are designing for. Great UX requires empathy for the user – and this means truly understanding who they are and what makes them tick.
This may mean working closely with UX researchers. So take the time to understand their methods and approaches. UX researchers consider the human psychology behind UX, conducting surveys and tests to fathom how the user thinks and responds to specific situations. With the help of the research experts, you can translate these insights into user-friendly designs.
Another important department not to be overlooked is customer service. Customer service reps are in direct contact with the user on a regular basis, and therefore have exclusive inside knowledge of their needs and wants. If you are going to empathise with your target audience, meet regularly with your customer service colleagues and find out what your user’s main pain-points are.
UX and UI are exceptionally closely linked; without an intuitive user interface, great UX is simply not possible. The relationship between the UX and UI designer is therefore of utmost importance – and as a UX designer, there are certain things you can do to ensure it is a good one.
First and foremost, communicate your visions clearly and consistently at all times. Work together with the UI designer/s to establish a style guide, and find out what tools they are working with. This will make things easier for both parties when it comes to handing over your wireframes. Equally important is to involve the visual designers from the very beginning. In this way, you can make sure that you are both tackling the problem from the same angle and working towards the same end goal.
Once the visual designs have been finalised, it is up to the developers to make it happen. This relationship will be considerably more comfortable if you can speak to the developers on a technical level, so consider learning fundamental frontend skills – including some of the most common coding languages. If you know what is technically possible at the development stage, you can design accordingly – something your developers will no doubt be grateful for!
When handing over your designs, make sure you provide the developers with enough background information. They too need to know who the end product is for and how you envision the user journey, so be as thorough as possible. After the handoff, do not be afraid to check in with the developers to see how things are going – they may even be happy for you to sit down with them and tweak the code if necessary.
Quality Assurance Team
The QA team is responsible for testing what has been built and making sure that it is bug-free and fully functional. To carry out accurate testing, they need to understand what you, the designer, intended precisely – so once again, communication is vital.
However, do not wait until the testing phase to speak to QA. Their ability to anticipate potential issues makes them extremely valuable at the design stage, too. It is also a good idea to ask your QA colleagues to give your prototype a once-over before you send it off for development; they can highlight any potential design flaws that you may have missed. Not only does this save time; it helps to improve the quality of the final product. Great UX is a collaborative effort, so it is perfectly fine to involve different teams at various stages of the process.
You may have noticed a common theme throughout this article: communication. Whilst each department factors in at different stages of the process, you should be in discussion with all key players from the very beginning. Sharing your ideas, establishing a shared vision and seeking fresh perspectives from your colleagues will ensure a more efficient design process – and the results of good teamwork will be evident in the quality of the finished product. As we have said before, UX-led companies are the future, so it is time to get everyone around you involved!
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