UX is changing. You may have noticed that UX designers are spending less and less time at their desks, doing UX. They’re spending their time talking to people, whether at other people's desks, in workshops or stood up in front of white boards—decorating it with post-it notes. But what are they doing? And when do they do their UX work?
The UX design process is based on a set of deliverables. From Personas to Empathy Maps and Customer Journey Maps to Wireframes, Site maps and User Flows, there are many. Creating these deliverables is what the UX designer does, these deliverables are UX, right? And if UX is about creating these deliverables, why aren’t they sat at their desks busily creating them?
Lean UX has been around for over seven years now, thanks mainly to Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden’s book Lean UX, published in 2013. Lean UX asks designers to ‘get out of the deliverables business’. Many design teams have embraced this. Switching from the traditional deliverables of UX to the newer ‘transient artefacts’ of Lean UX.
Transient Artefacts are designed ‘just-enough’ to communicate their purpose. They are temporary, replaced as new learnings are discovered and new artefacts created. These are far from the traditional, well presented deliverables of the old UX. Quite often these take the form of loose drawings or collections of post-it notes.
Whether a designer uses traditional UX deliverables or newer, Transient Artefacts one thing that hasn’t changed is the content. Be it a Persona or a Wireframe the deliverables still exist—just in newer forms. But what are these really for?
Creating ‘structured’ conversations
UX Designers now use these deliverables as a way to create ‘structured’ conversations. Meaningful discussions with other designers, developers, stakeholders to customers. Aimed at learning what we need to know to deliver the right solution.
Working by themselves, sat at their desks creating deliverables is not the way forward. UX designers need to be social, creating these meaningful conversations.
For example, they’ll create a persona to structure a conversation with the team about understanding the customer and their needs. A prototype to discuss with customers whether or not the solution solves their needs. Or a quick sketch to facilitate a discussion with a developer about how to implement the solution.
The persona, prototype or sketch in the above examples are used to structure the conversation. They are not the output.
These conversations enable UX designers to switch from the traditional deliverable focused approach—or output driven design. To an outcome focused approach. Success is no longer measured by getting sign off on deliverables, design is now measured against key business and customer metrics with clear success factors.
These conversations are the tool used by designers to reach these goals. UX is no longer about creating deliverables. The outcome or end goal has become the deliverable. The new UX is about meaningful conversations.
Meaning, UX really has become all talk.
As Director of Experience Design, Chris Thelwell leads our experience design team and practice. He has worked globally as a digital product designer for many years, juggling award-winning F1 projects, cool Google Chrome apps, with consulting for some of the biggest companies in the world and the occasional European football championship. An outcome focused design leader, Chris specialises in disrupting markets, creating innovative new digital products and building high-performing design teams in Agile software delivery environments within large enterprises, startups and agencies.