We love getting great deals on things and I am no different! Two for one deals and BOGO have become entrenched in our consumer consciousness and we’re always seeking the best deal in virtually every avenue of our lives. We are programmed to believe that getting more for less is always going to be better, and in almost every situation we find ourselves in this mindset makes sense. But there is an exception to this thinking and that is the idea that getting a person who can user experience research AND user experience design is the best solution for solving your UX problems. In this case, the two-fer’ deal may not the best path forward.
Finding The Unicorn
The exception to this idea is when you actually locate this fabled professional who is trained and competent at doing both design and research – the ever-elusive unicorn! They’re out there, they do exist but they are rare. The education, training and real-world experience required to become a UX researcher versus a UX designer is vastly different and more often than not, a person has built their career around one of these disciplines and has been thrown into the other out of necessity. Here’s how it typically starts…
And that’s how UX people end up cross-pollinating into research or design when they aren’t necessarily ready to “lead the charge.”
Wonder Twins Activate!
We’ve established that finding the UX unicorn is going to be difficult so the logical alternative is finding two UX pros – one for research and one for design. The biggest benefit to this scenario is the potential for different perspectives and approaches when it comes to solving a UX problem. The researcher brings the findings and first-hand experience gained from talking to and understanding the user, while the designer brings the knowledge of best practices, best-in-class competitors, and contemporary trends and design patterns to the table. The only downfall in having two UX pros instead of one is cost but as we will see shortly, this may be offset by other determining factors.
The journey of our two UX pros begins with the researcher conducting their initial findings on the current state of the product/service. This research is typically focused around the tasks being performed with the product and how the overall experience with the product makes the user feel. While this is happening, the designer is digging into the direct competition and the best-in-class competition. This “getting up to speed” process gives the designer a solid understanding of potential design problems and plants some seeds for possible solutions.
Once the initial round of research is complete, the designer uses the research findings to create the concepts. Working closely with the business stakeholders and the researcher, the designer creates several options for possible solutions. These ideas serve as the beginning of the iterative testing cycle. From here, the researcher takes the concepts and puts them in front of users for a round of testing. At the end of the testing cycle, the designer, the researcher and the business stakeholder analyze the findings to help decide what is working and what is not. The designer then iterates the concept and this loop of narrowing down design options based on the results of user testing continues until the solution is found. This method gives the best possible solution in a relatively short amount of time. Magical!
Show Me The Money
The real value of this method is the potential savings in both time and budget. Quick design iterations allow ideas to be explored while avoiding a serious commitment of resources or time, both of which ultimately are the biggest drains on a budget. Having concepts run through several rounds of user testing also saves money as it reduces the risk of redoing code or designs once a product has been brought to market. There’s also an added bonus for the business stakeholder: looking like a rock star because they based design decisions on real user feedback. This is a big deal because it gives the product instant credibility, which in turn makes it easier to “sell” to reluctant team members, supervisors, etc.