Represent the user in the product development process. Balance the user's needs with the business goals and technical costs. Create workflows that have a continuous flow with a comfortable feel. Uncover more efficient ways to do things that enable higher productivity on repetitive tasks.
Every large initiative or feature should start with a meeting with all key team members: UX, product managers, developers, visual designers, tech writers and QA. The feature is narrated to the team so we all understand what we are trying to accomplish. Use cases are walked-thru, and cross-vertical dependancies and impact are discovered.
Before the real work starts, UX gets in a room with developers and product managers to spend a couple hours drawing up some initial workflows and UIs. This exercise workshop quickly captures and eliminates ideas, and aligns everyone's expectations as to what we're trying to build. UX should drive but collaboration is the rule.
Whiteboards are then transferred to lo-fi wireframes which are perfect for rapid iterations, explorations, and creating quick prototypes. Works best for internal team reviews, as stakeholders often have a hard time visualizing the final result. These can often be used as the final instructions to the dev teams.
Thanks to modern flat UI designs, we can sometimes go straight to hi-fidelity wireframes. This is great for demos, user testing and preventing ideas from getting lost in translation between design and development.
The best source of information is the customer. The opportunity to interview these experts, demo our working design concepts, and validate those concepts is invaluable for building in the right direction.
The only way the UX team can know what's going on in the trenches is to engage with the product managers, developers and QA on a daily basis. That means presence and participation at standups, scrums and sprint demos. Knowing what individual developers are working on at all times helps UX keep an eye on the ball.
It's the UX/UI designers role to maintain a visual style guide that goes way beyond fonts and colors. It gets into the complicated area of seemingly always needing to introduce new IX patterns, yet trying to maintain consistency.
Critical. UX needs to talk to and test end users. Internal power users and subject matter experts are also a great source of feedback. They are the next best thing to the end user. Paper prototypes, interactive demos, and simple Q&A sessions help validate and inform our design decisions.
My experience in the ecommerce space gave me access to hundreds of online retailers. That was the go-to source for innovative patterns, best practices and complete shopper experiences.
The UX team also needs to listen in on sales demos, training calls and onboarding sessions, as well as keeping an eye on the support tickets for usability issues.
Of course there's also user personas, customer journeys, analytics, heatmaps, contextual research and all those other sources of information we leverage and mine to better understand our users.
The more informed the UX team is, the more on-target are the designs.