UX makes the developer’s life a lot easier

Opposite directions towards difficult and easy

UX determine the ”WHY”, so that the developer can concentrate on the ”HOW”!

2½ years ago we started up an UX Department at Pentia, and for that I am so happy. Prior there were the 2 scenarios – No UX process at all or collaborating with an external company.

No UX process

Typically when a developer becomes involved with a project the customers will say “I want a website with functionality A,B,C etc. “, however, they might not know WHY they want the functionality. Usually their motivation is that everyone else has it. Which is like going to a supermarket, and buying your groceries based on what everyone else is buying and it is highly unlikely, that will be a success.

As a developer it can be very frustrating, with no UX phase as there is a tendency to push for development to start too early. This tends to lead to a lot more additional questions/investigation during implementation. Developers don’t mind questions and investigation, but there is a time and place for everything and half way through a project, is not the ideal time.

Sometimes we realise too late in the process, that in fact we are not building what they need. At which point it is much more difficult/expensive to change the requirements/technology/architecture/etc.

I have also had a lot of customers that didn’t know what they wanted. This is where the User Experience (UX) department steps in and helps the customer to find what they need.
If we have established the WHY & what it makes the developers job a 1000 times easier as they can focus on the HOW, and therefore build a better solution.

From a customer’s standpoint it might be difficult to see why you should spend the extra money on a UX architect. The mind frame seems to be: more design, more features, mores developing hours, more money. But in reality, the UX architect job is to determine the WHY, so that we ensure we are building the correct product. In addition the UX process will streamline the content structure to create a focused result which only has the required features.

An external company is responsible for the UX

In the past we have collaborated with external companies who specialized in UX and design. This solution is better than having no UX involved at all, but difficulties can still arise.

When the UX is delivered by an external company; I as a developer have little or no involvement in the decision making. For example – there have been a number of occasions where from a UX perspective there is no difference between solution A or B, but from a development/technology perspective there is a world of difference (usually one is close to impossible and the other is a lot easier).

Accountability, in generally external UX companies are less concerned if it is technically possible – typical issues involve mock-up’s that don’t scale i.e. works well with 50 products, but not when you have 2.5 million products. Holding an in-house specialist accountable for their decisions that influence the final product is much easier.

The wonders of an in house UX team

Having an in-house UX department, the developers get to be part of the UX process, and that makes it is possible to influence technical choices at an earlier stage, and during development UX architects are available to provide insight into the customer’s perspective and motivation.

Another advantages is feedback and the cross over between the different expertise; occasionally when it gets to implementation there is a problem with the UX and or information architecture, now we can discuss the issue with UX architect and together come up with a solution together which is both cost effective and creates a good user experience. As a developer I can also provide feedback to the UX department in order to help them with future projects.

UX is a crucial part of modern digital products. It is important to give the end user the best possible experience and it is equally important, to make sure the end product meets the customers’ business needs and creates value. Having a UX resource on board makes sure that the right questions get asked and that we as developers can concentrate on the fun part – making it all work.

Having a UX department in-house allows for UX & development to be involved throughout the entire project, which is normally not the case with an external UX company, where the UX/information architecture is delivered as finished product. Having an UX Department increases collaboration/communication/influence between UX and development.

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Dette indlæg blev udgivet i Udvikling, UX og tagget af Alan Coates. Bogmærk permalinket.

Om Alan Coates

I’ve been working, well mostly breaking Sitecore for the past 11 years, before that I spent 10 years (wow I’m getting old) developing in C++, and prior to that it was Fortan 77 and Assembly. I am committed to providing high quality, re-usable and robust solutions. I am a Sitecore certified developer and have been awarded Sitecore MVP. Check out my blog at: http://blog.coates.dk/

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