Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Jun 2018

Experience Last

The project is well-past the kickoff, and it feels as if there are no other successes to be pulled. The pace of development seems to have slowed. The stakeholders are getting ancy. What seemed like the right solution months ago now seems so far from the truth of how they will use it. And yet, the budget says it must persist. There are calls to trim the team and go “lean” in both focus and resources. Then someone asks, “so how will we evaluate the experience of this once we’ve released it?”

The question seems obvious but the truth is that it was never considered. The project wasn’t started out of impulse. There was a recognized gap in performance and productivity and this was the best route provided to executives as the way forward. Cursory conversations were had with those who’d been in those roles but have moved forward to others to validate the solution. On the surface, this was going to be a win-win. And yet, the voice of those who’d be there after the transition, not those who’d be managing the transition but those who’d be implementing it, was missing. Their experience was not willingly dismissed, but they had little clue of how the business ran above their work. It was decided to bring them in closer to the release. At that point, their feedback would capture what was missed.

A user experience (UX) practioner was consulted. They were queried as to what might be some gaps they have missed — what might be some better ways to galvanize the project to its expected end? Where might the project find some of the solutions to the issues we think might show up in performance, adoption, or training?

The UX practioner looks on. Then gets to work. Yet internally hangs their head. These questions would have been easier to address if they were consulted earlier in the project. The experience of doing and using the product seems to have been the last thing considered — and is only now coming to a head because other levers have been pulled to no success. So the UX practioner asks:

“What do your users think of this change? How has their feedback shaped the project to date? And where are they in our review sessions?”

A realization hits the project manager and product owner, “why did we consider the user experience last?”