Is UX a waste of time? Part Two

What is Wrong with UX – Numero Dos. Last time we introduced the dark art of UX problems. Our aim is to cut the wheat from the chaff. The belly button fluff from the belly button. Not for philanthropic reasons – oh no – it’s so that Charlatans don’t give the profession such a bad rep that we can’t work in it any longer! Or they throw all the UX work to BA’s. And none of us want that. Remember the first problem? Let’s dive straight into the next big one.

Issue 2 – Tea and Biscuits o’clock.  The UX process shouldn’t take long. That’s the second thing that catches us out. Once upon a time, a particularly large site undergoing redevelopment had issues with progress. Basically, the UX was taking too long, and wireframes weren’t delivered. In fact, they were barely started as it turned out, 6 months after an agreed sign-off date. Poor BA’s had the unenviable task to write stories and plan point estimates against wireframes that didn’t exist. Front End developers had nothing to do. In a desperate attempt to achieve some type of velocity, “pixel perfect” work had to be completed … against lo-fi Balsamiq type designs. Yes, it was a mess. The testers really did expect to see greyscale wavy lines around boxes.

The solution proposed? Get rid of chairs. Seriously. The UX team had their chairs taken away, forcing them to stand while they had their debates (see Issue 1, if you missed the earlier article). So that didn’t work. With the increased back strain it probably led to more anger and resentment, and longer debates. The client lost millions in development time. Go-live dates were scrapped. Insults were hurled. Developers on the site still hadn’t seen a final signed-off “hi fi” version of a wireframe. And it was a big site. So where does it all go wrong? Indirect sabotage? Contractors dragging their feet? Pride? Too few chairs? Too much debating?  Lack of experience? The chairs thing again? Lack of resources? Leadership? It all falls down to (lack of) line management leadership. Needs a bit of back-bone from up above to stand up to fixed deliverable dates and crack the whip when needed on anyone ‘playing the game’. And some more chairs around the place wouldn’t hurt.

But in all seriousness, if the very first phase of development is over 6 months late, how on earth can a 12 month project be delivered on time? UX as a discipline needs to be as accountable, goal-focused and deadline driven as the established Development disciplines. Yes it’s a creative talent, and feedback can slow down the process, but now UX is taken seriously from all levels, it’s important the profession stands up for itself and delivers – on quality, on time and on budget. The elusive magic three. Next time, we’ll look at Agile, and get into trouble from Agile fans for telling it like it is. Catch up soon!

Jordan Taylor has been developing websites since he started using Dreamweaver way back when it was in version 3 (yes, that far back) and everyone loved tables. He has worked on UX and Front End projects for many global ecommerce projects including Gucci.com, Superdrug and Dr Martens. He is currently a UX Architect on a major SaaS development project, and the lead on an NDA-driven Front End only team of stealthy ninjas for high end “on shore” Hybris and Demandware projects, called Rapid Commerce.

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