Compromise: Balancing Project Needs with Internal Ideals

There are certain ideals that, as a designer, you strive for. For me, working with my focus firmly on the field of User Experience, it is to put the user at the heart of our design and decision making processes.

As a User Experience Team of One - which is also a fantastic book by Leah Buley - the responsibility falls to me to bring the user’s voice into the projects I work on.

Now, this doesn’t equate to me flinging both doors open to the meeting room, striding in declaring how this ship is going to be run (although I reckon I may be able to pull that off… I said ‘may’). No, this involves me taking my seat, sitting back, soaking up the new information as it presents itself, what stakes the other areas of the business have in this project that you may not have been aware of, and picking the right moments to interject in order to tease out more useful information that would otherwise go unnoticed.

It’s no good going in all guns blazing with the demands of the user, simply because that approach refuses to acknowledge the business.

Every project needs to have a business case that proves to the decision makers that the project should be undertaken, and that its successful implementation means that the company will make money. It is a business after all.

As the title of this piece would suggest, this is where compromise enters.

However, I have a problem with the phrase “compromise” in this type of situation.

When did the interests of the business and the interest of the user (or potential customer) become mutually exclusive?

If you don’t mind, I’ll answer that for you; They didn’t.

In the vast majority of cases - well, all cases in my experience, but everyone has their own unique experiences, so I can only talk for myself — not once has the introduction of user research resulted in a compromise of the business needs.

If anything, it has either backed up the case that was already being presented, or has altered the course of action that increase the benefit to the business.

Let me be clear, this is not a certifiable outcome just because the person who “does UX” is in the room, it is grounded in preparation.

The hours of research, testing, more research, and more testing. The compilation of results from that work into documents that can be easily distributed to, and easily understood by all involved.

And the key thing?

Do it early.

Do it before that kick-off meeting I was talking about at the beginning, you know, where I flung those double doors open and strode in to the room.

There’s no need for compromise when your ideals are in place at the inception of any project.

~ A contribution to #StartYourShift