Facilitate a Better Design Critique

Winding Road

The path to a great UX can be a little winding. Put engineers, product managers, designers and various stakeholders together in a room and everyone has their own agenda and is trying to have their say. Too often I’ve heard the conversation get halted before the real UX discussions can even begin.

Share Openly and Often

One of the many reason meetings can get halted and go of track is when someone new is in the room and has never seen the designs before. Avoid this as much as possible. Get any and all key stakeholders in the room or at least viewing the designs as often and as early as possible.

I realize this is impossible to avoid all the time, executives are busy or someone is new to the group. At times this isn’t all bad, new eyes can be the best source to uncovering unseen usability issues.

Set the Tone

The key to the most constructive design meetings is to have clear cut goals and understandings up front. Make sure everyone in the room is aware of the purpose of the design, what is it exactly you are trying to accomplish.

Then describe how you got there, your thoughts and process of why the design is like it is today. The more details the audience has on the background, the more informative their feedback can be.

Lastly, what kind of feedback are you looking for? What is on the table for discussion and what is not.

Capture and Table Side Ideas

That being said, I’m a huge component of throwing out any and all possibilities at any stage in the process. Finding the best possible experience for the users is always the main goal at hand.

Sadly, many times numerous people have already invested so much time and energy to the current design that any new ideas are immediately shut down. I prefer to hear things out, briefly, jot down it down, and then move on.

Change Doesn’t Mean Now

Maybe it’s a hard code change, maybe it’s easy but it affects a lot of screens, or it’s impossible to happen in the next release. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t ever happen.

The goal is let great ideas come to life, let the discussions flow and hopefully you’ll discover the best possible experience for the user. THEN figure out how to get it into the product at a later date.

At some point, mock it up, test it with real users and figure out a way to add it into the product in some future release, if it indeed works out to be a better UI.

Great ideas can come from anyone at any time, be open to them!

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