December 17, 2019
5 min Read
Have you ever had a fantastic UX idea that you thought would improve your product, but when you talked to the designers, no one understood what you exactly had in mind, and the idea was never implemented? In this article, I will cover a few simple steps you can take that will help make your UX idea pitch easier to understand for UX designers.
Speaking Fluent UX
Let’s cover the basic elements that are a must when you’re coming to present ideas to the design team:
1. Learn Some UX Terminology
UX terms can sound like a different language to non-designers. Whether you’re a stranger to the field or working with pros, it’s recommended to learn how to speak User Experience and designer. You must understand the terms:
- UX research – this is where you study a product’s users, learn what are the user’s needs, analyze how the current user experience serves them, and determine how to improve it based on results.
- A/B testing – here, you take two (A and B) or more versions of your site or app, present it to your target audience, and see which one they statistically prefer.
- Heat Maps – this UX tool tracks and records the user’s mouse pointer and display position when they’re on your site to gain insights on their behavior.
- Information Architecture – this is the thought process responsible for arranging apps, software, site sections, or even actual rooms and galleries to improve how they’re used or viewed.
- UX Iteration – it required constant prototyping, sharing versions with users, doing interviews with them, and adjusting or reworking your design based on what was learned.
- Journey Mapping – here you create a visual mockup of the user’s journey while using your site or product, with the help of the data collected during UX research. This practice is also called Customer Journey Mapping.
- Personas – it’s a carefully crafted user profile made-up by UX designers to help understand and relate to the type of user a product is developed for.
- Wireframes – a basic blueprint that shows the base sections and layout of a site or web application.
- Prototype – when compared to a wireframe, a prototype will be at a later stage of development, and serves as a test version of your creation used for research prior to final release.
- Usability Testing – a practice that gives users variations of a site or app to try, while UX researchers watch, study, and take notes as the user completes tasks with different versions of the tool.
Knowing these terms might ease your conversations or even help save time beforehand. Also, the design team will be more eager to talk UX to you if you speak their language.
2. Do Your Research
“UX without user research is not UX,” – said Don Norman, the man who coined the term “User Experience.” Usually, research is the first logical step to take when working on UX projects. The type of research that you should do solely depends on what problem are you trying to solve. And the better you know the problem and who would your solution benefit most, the more clearly you can communicate it to others.
Designers love well-done research and precise facts, so when you’re trying to communicate your ideas to them, they might ask you for data backing up your claims. This is where having research done beforehand will benefit the conversation greatly.
3. Get Comfortable Sketching on Paper
Most people are visual creatures. So the quickest way to communicate ideas is to sketch them out. You’re probably thinking, “I can’t draw, and you said this tutorial was for non-designers.” Well, to calm your worries, if you can write, draw a line or a shape that looks like a rectangle, you’re entirely qualified to make User Interface sketches.
For sketching out your ideas, you will need a few things. First of all, get some paper or a notepad, a thick marker, and a timer. Thick markers help focus on the big picture instead of sketching out all the shadows and fancy UI elements that you envision. Keep your focus entirely on the depiction of your idea.
Secondly, try to sketch as many ideas as you can without judging any of them just yet. That is why having a timer is so important. It helps you set up time constraints, so you have to think quick and can’t judge your ideas too much.
Lastly, give the most attention to the copy you write. Text is the most crucial element in design sketches because it provides a purpose to a drawing, and makes it much more understandable.
Remember, when drawing your ideas in this step, quantity is more important than quality, so set a timer for 30 minutes or whatever time you got and try to jot down as many ideas as you possibly can. We’ll review them later.
The Four-Step Sketching Process
Everything becomes more comfortable when following a process. So here is one for your sketching session so you won’t get carried away. I’ve borrowed this method from “Design Sprints” by Jake Knapp.
- Start with setting your timer for twenty minutes and take notes of the goal, opportunities, and inspiration you’ve collected earlier on during research.
- Set another twenty minutes to sketch rough ideas to form your thoughts.
- Crazy 8’s. Take the one solution that you think is the strongest. Divide an A4 page into eight rectangles by folding, and in those rectangles, sketch out eight different variations of your most potent idea. Give one minute for each sketch.
- Finally, give yourself up to 40 minutes on the timer to sketch an end to end final solution before presenting it to your peers and the designers.
Why Should You Follow This Sketching Process
By sketching out different ideas on paper and iterating them, you have enough material to present clearly and get actionable feedback. This way, everyone can see what your thought process was. Also, by doing this, you make it easy for people to spot potential in other ideas that you may have missed.
Get Some Feedback
The time has come to put your idea out there for the whole team to see. So pick a way to present your design. It could be a post in a Slack group, a comment in your virtual scrum board, or a live feedback session with real people, where you would arrange your work as an art gallery for everyone to see.
Whichever you pick is up to you. But note that communicating in person always works faster and overall better than virtual communication.
Ideally, when hosting feedback sessions, you should try to invite people from different departments. Try to limit the feedback group to just one designer and invite stakeholders, marketing people, customer success agents, etc. to have as many different outlooks as possible.
Take notes on the feedback, iterate, and repeat the feedback process until you feel the idea is ready for the design team to work on.
By the time you’re done with this idea generation process, you should have a clear understanding of what you’re trying to solve or improve, who your idea benefits, and, most importantly, the possible actionable solution that might end up being implemented.
Now you can approach the design team with confidence and start sharing your ideas. Congratulations, you’re now fluent in designer. Keep doing this, and the team will love you forever, take it from a designer.
In case you didn’t notice, this ideation process is based on “the Design Sprint book” by Jake Knapp. A phenomenal book, I recommend to both designers, marketers, and everyone else.