Effective design reviews (slides)

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  1. 1. EFFECTIVE DESIGN REVIEWS How to give and receive meaningful, actionable design feedback Everett McKay UX Design Edge uxdesignedge.com UX Scotland (June 2015)
  2. 2. Who is this guy? Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Principal of UX Design Edge (from Vermont, USA) Offer UI design classes, workshops, and consulting services, primarily to software teams that dont have (sufficient) design talent and resources Previously was a Windows PM at Microsoft, where I owned Windows Server security UI and wrote the Windows UX Guidelines (but not for Windows 8) Before that, was a developer of Windows and Mac UIs Im really good at doing design reviews!
  3. 3. My new book is UI is Communication Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. Why are we herewhy do you care? Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Great design requires great design reviews We need constructive, actionable feedback to do our best work Most design reviews arent very effective! A top workshop request: advice on how to give more effective, persuasive feedback
  5. 5. My promise Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. You will learn at least two new, useful things!! A special requests: Email me to get deck and Everetts Design Review Rules Please tweet about any especially good design review ideas!
  6. 6. Todays agenda Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Design review challenges Design review solutions Design review techniques Hands-on design review exercise Wrapup and Q&A We have a hard end time!
  7. 7. Lets quickly review the essentials and their problems Design review challenges Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. Design review facts of life Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. The goal of most design reviews: make the design better Which means we focus on problems, improvements Our goal in most design reviews: to hear how awesome our design is These are conflicting goals!! Its hard to not react to critical feedback emotionally Effective design reviews require a thick skin
  9. 9. Setting a (low) baseline Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. The design team walks through the design, carefully explaining it screen by screen. The designers point out that it is early in the process, so they are more interested in the big picture issues than low-level details. Along the way, fellow team members nitpick at the design, focusing on minor details while completely missing any critical usability problems. At some point, someone volunteers to redesign a feature whose problems aren't yet even fully understood. The boss, a visual thinker, points out that she really can't stand that shade of blue, and that her mom could never use this UI, even though it is targeted at trained specialists. The consensus feedback of looks great!, while encouraging to hear, is probably quite literal because the mockup does in fact look great visually.
  10. 10. Setting a (low) baseline Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. The design team walks through the design, carefully explaining it screen by screen. The designers point out that it is early in the process, so they are more interested in the big picture issues than low-level details. Along the way, fellow team members nitpick at the design, focusing on minor details while completely missing any critical usability problems. At some point, someone volunteers to redesign a feature whose problems aren't yet even fully understood. The boss, a visual thinker, points out that she really can't stand that shade of blue, and that her mom could never use this UI, even though it is targeted at trained specialists. The consensus feedback of looks great!, while encouraging to hear, is probably quite literal because the mockup does in fact look great visually.
  11. 11. #1 Own the design review Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. If it is your design, its your design review process You know the feedback you need best (non-designers on your team dont) You know how to get that feedback best (non- designers on your team dont) Things to own: agenda, goals, process, rules, attendees Bottom line: Design the design reviewdont just show up! Manage up!
  12. 12. #2 Have clear design review goals Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Always have a clear design review goal Set the objective: Improve the design, sell the design, get stakeholder buyoff These are conflicting! Level: Type of feedback varies during process Early in process: high-level, big picture issues Late in process: low-level details Bottom line: Effective design reviews have clear goals. Set them and communicate them!
  13. 13. Non-goals for good design reviews Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. For design teams To defend the current design For participants To propose how you would have designed it To embarrass the design team or promote an agenda To demonstrate how smart you are For review meetings To make everyone happy (design vs. politics) To find solutions or resolve every issue raised
  14. 14. #3 Set the expectations Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Set expectationsdont assume that everyone gets it Another non-goal: to rationalize poor design Our target users are trained professionals. Is it really a problem if our design requires training? This is an internal LOB tool. Our target users must use it. Does it really matter if it is hard to use? Bottom line: If the design review goal is to make it better, then the review should focus on making it better!
  15. 15. #4 Looks good! isnt good feedback Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Ineffective design reviews are driven by the teams emotional reaction to how the UI appears visually Low fidelity prototypes avoid feedback based on emotion and visual appearance Bottom line: Looks good! is often quite literal
  16. 16. #5 Lower fidelity is better Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Use the lowest fidelity prototyping that does the job reasonably well Focuses on the high-level issues instead of details Perceived as unfinished and easily changeable, so doesnt discourage feedback People react emotionally to beautiful things Bottom line: Beauty hides flaws
  17. 17. The Windows Vista story Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. The Windows Vista design team used Photoshop- based task flows for design reviews They were gorgeous! (Especially compared to XP) Typical outcome Design reviews went well with few problems found The actual results were often disappointing (to me) I wanted to figure out why
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  24. 24. #6 Understand visual thinkers Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Some managers are visual thinkers Visual thinkers dont understand interaction design, but they have strong ideas about visual design details They cant deal with sketches and wireframes, so the insist on high-fidelity, interactive prototypes I need to see it! Bottom line: visual thinkers dislike low fi prototypes
  25. 25. LinkedIn: Do wireframes even work? Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. A discussion on LinkedIn: We have tried using wireframes, but we have found them to be a waste of time. Do wireframes even work? Me: I bet the boss is a visual thinker Later in the thread: My manager wants to give feedback on the shade of red, for example, but cant because the wireframe doesnt use the actual colors Bazinga!
  26. 26. #7 Manager feedback inversion Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Some managers tend to give detailed feedback early in the process (colors, fonts, icons, pixels), and give high- level feedback later in the process My explanation Visual thinkers dont take wireframes seriously because they look preliminaryinstead, they give the feedback that is easiest Once the design gets real, they engage and give the high- level feedback Bottom line: We need to manage up
  27. 27. Putting it all together Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. A quick summary Own the process and goals, communicate them! Set the right level and expectations Lower fidelity designs are better early in the process Watch out for visual thinkers and manager feedback inversion
  28. 28. My advice for solving common design review problems Design review solutions Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved.
  29. 29. Dealing with personal opinion Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Problem: Our feedback usually starts as subjective, personal opinionI like this, I dont like that To make it actionable, we need to translate it into something objective How? Design frameworks: scenarios, personas Design principles and guidelines Design vocabulary Compare: This design is unintuitive to That feature isnt discoverable
  30. 30. My mom would never fly this airplane
  31. 31. Dealing with non-designers Copyright 2015 UX Design Edge. All rights reserved. Problem: Most feedback is good, but often poorly expressed Observation: Most poorly expressed feedback is in the form of a (poor) solutionLets just add an option to Solution: Understand the problem first OK, great! What problem will that solve? Once you understand the problem, now you can discuss solutions
  32. 32. Dealing with de