• Mitch Malone, 6 months ago

    I've found that gathering context and understanding from these groups before the UI is designed is much more valuable than getting comments after the fact.

    Get a person from each group in a room and interview them. Listen to what they're goals are, what they are trying to do, what worries them, etc.

    5 points
    • Noah SNoah S, 6 months ago

      I've done this before but have had a hard time with some people not wanting to be the decision-maker/key-informer for a team - have you experienced this? and if so how did you get around it?

      0 points
      • Mitch Malone, 6 months ago

        First thing I would do is frame it just as a normal, casual conversation. You might only need 10-15 mins. If you need longer, invite them to out to lunch. That can make it feel more approachable. Pitch the conversation as a "shop talk" session where you just want to learn about what they do day-to-day. No need to seek a "key informer". Just find people who have a vested interest in the problem space you're designing in. They might be worried you are there to judge them or they will somehow get into trouble for speaking truthfully.

        If the person you want to talk to simply refuses and you have no one else in an analogous position to can talk to, I would escalate the matter to your manager. They should work with other business units on getting you the access you need.

        If that does not work, then the organization is deeply dysfunctional. The path ahead to align the organization in a way that would allow you to learn what you need to is long and hard and maybe not worth your time. If you want to stick it out, continue talking with your manager on how to solve the problem. Approach it as another other design problem. Try to understand the underlying motivations and goals of the folks you'd like to talk to.

        At the very least, revisit how your role and position is evaluated. If you are evaluated on the outcomes of your designs but are prohibited from truly understanding the context, environment, and users of those designs, then you are being set up to fail.

        2 points
        • Noah SNoah S, 6 months ago

          Wow thank you for such a comprehensive response. Expanding through the decision tree like that is super helpful. The only times I have run into anything similar to what I described was doing contract work for government offices which in my experience are at higher risk of these kind of bureaucratic walls. And to be fair not necessarily at the fault of the individual or team but as you described a wider org challenge.

          Do you write anywhere else? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on more of these design-within-business problems as I don't see a lot of that around. And/or could you recommend any people to follow who cover these types of things?

          Again, thank you!

          1 point
          • Mitch Malone, 6 months ago

            You are welcome! Glad it was helpful.

            I don't really write that much.

            I would recommend reading and listening to Erika Hall and Jared Spool. I've learned more about design from those two than anyone else.

            1 point