It’s that time of year again. A fresh start for a new you. But what about a fresh start for your work? The system that you and your team have labored over, perhaps for years? Just like cleaning out your closet and reorganizing it to magazine-photoshoot perfection, the new year can be a time to take a step back and refine your system, your users, your team, your process, and your tools.
Here we suggest 5 New Year’s Resolutions for UX:
If you have a system in place, take a fresh look at it through the eyes of your user. Is it still meeting needs and allowing users to accomplish their goals? Over the course of a year (or less!), technology, tools, and motivations change. Be sure that your system is keeping up with what your users need and expect. What new features did you roll out this year? Are they being utilized? Run some analytics, or even better, conduct user testing, to see if the released version of that feature hit the nail on the head, or if it fell flat.
Speaking of users, revisit who you’ve designed for. Update any personas you’ve created, or create them if you haven’t. Keep in mind that these are different than marketing demographics or target markets. Personas should reflect a specific instance of a user that uses your system, and should capture their tasks, goals, and behaviors. If you already have personas, I guarantee that in the last year you have learned some new things about the people that use your system. Update those items that need updating, add anything new that you’ve learned, and if needed, remove or create new personas to reflect the primary users of the system. It can be hard to retire a persona, I know (if it helps, have a retirement party with cupcakes - everyone will feel better).
Give yourself and your team the gift of continuous learning, and expand your UX knowledge. Follow new blogs and UX pros on Twitter, read up on the latest UX methods (we’re currently reading Lean UX), or take the team to a UX or CX workshop. Even if you’ve been conducting research, designing, or user testing for years, seeing new approaches and methodologies help your team continue to think creatively and critically about your current processes.
I’m sure you’re thinking that your processes don’t need to be updated. Everything is going fine! Sure there are some places where things get slowed down, but that’ll happen, right? This year, set a resolution to try to tackle those inefficiencies. When it comes to UX projects, there are a few things that you can to do increase communication between teams and expedite action. Try including your designers in the research phase of the project. While they don’t need to be conducting interviews themselves, sitting in on at least some of the initial user interviews can improve the communication between the research and design team, as the context is already there. Similarly, include designers in user testing debrief sessions, or have them sit in on user tests. Affinity mapping of user testing findings can be another way to include designers in more of the process, allowing them to more quickly iterate on designs. Including developers in design discussions is another way to increase communication between teams - the developers have a greater understanding of what the designers are aiming for, and they can let the designers know earlier if something might not be feasible. Make it a goal to adopt even a couple of these cross-team integration strategies, and see how it impacts your process and efficiency.
The new year is also a great time to examine the tools you are using - in the last year there have been new tools that have emerged on the scene, and others that have made incredible updates. Perhaps there are tools out there that have been around for a while, but you and your team have yet to use them. Run a tools inventory - you might be surprised at the licenses you’re paying for, but aren’t using. Take a survey of employees to see what their favorite tools are - that developer down the hall might get you hooked on ScreenHero, or the designers across the way might show you a new way to create mood boards in InVision. Plus, those new UX blogs you’re following might have some great recommendations that you’ve never heard of.
While anytime is a great time to take a look at these five things, the new promise of a new year makes tasks like these downright enjoyable. Plus, it’s a great way to get your teams back in gear after some time off.