If you are following along my UserBit journey, you know that about 2 months ago I finally decided to cut the cord and work on it full-time. It has been an intense, productive and exciting two months so far. As the year comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on some of the reasons as to why I decided to dedicate my time to UserBit.
1. UX is more than prototypes!
I know, we all know this. Especially people who work in the field are probably laughing at me for stating something so obvious. I need to make this distinction because there’s an observable trend in the last few years where the industry seems to be focusing more and more on the flashy parts of UX. Go ahead and google “UX apps” or search popular sites for UX Tools. If you’re reading this in 2018, a page full of links about wireframing and prototyping tools will be staring back at you.
Let’s be clear — I’m not saying prototyping or high fidelity mockups are not important. If we’re at the sensory stage though, it means we have gone through the bulk of our process already — we have figured out business objectives, success metrics, user needs, we have developed empathy maps, user journeys, user stories, (hopefully) come up with personas, sitemaps and countless other things that we do as UX folks, to shape a product. For that bulk of work, not much has changed in terms of tooling for the last decade or so.
2. UX Research and Ideation needs unified tools and organization
We have our work in google drives, notebooks, Dropbox, none of which is specifically designed for UX work. Every time we have to make a presentation we rummage through loads of material to put together something in the already limited time that we get allocated. And then someone asks:
Where did this requirement come from? It doesn’t make sense!
Back to rummaging through user interviews, affinity diagrams, etc. to justify what we did. What if there was a unified platform that not only provided the tools we need to conduct the research and synthesis but also automatically spit out organized, presentable results at a moment’s notice? A platform where you could trace back your findings to its roots in a snap?
3. Emphasis on Prototypes makes it easier to skip research & ideation
With so much emphasis on flashy prototypes, cool animations, and sleek looks, the bigger picture is being overlooked by stakeholders and sometimes even us. Our job is to create products that are useful and successful — not just good looking. Here’s what I hear from management over and over:
We are all agile like! We can iterate on this fancy prototype till we have a perfect product and skip all the research/ideation phase… snoozefest!
This just means we’ll be iterating over that prototype into oblivion. Agile doesn’t mean we skip research/ideation! We just need to find more practical/logical methods to do it within the time constraint. If anything, it advocates spending less time making your prototypes perfect and shipping the product out early. Skipping research and ideation in favor of high fidelity mockups/prototypes is a recipe for good looking failed products.
We need a UX platform that will help reduce the amount of manual work involved with organizing research and ideation. We need to make sure we make it an integral part of the process while keeping up with the fast pace of agile cycles.
4. UX is not magic!
UX is very much process oriented and any process can benefit from tools that make the steps of the process easier. Yes, you have to understand user psychology which can often be unpredictable or irrational, but smart people in the field have laid out a path towards this understanding through a set of proven methods. Just like any other skill, it’ll take some studying and practice to be good at it but it can be done.
Over the last decade I’ve come across several companies where product managers, frontend teams want to adopt UX process but are overwhelmed by the different methods, processes and unnecessary gatekeeping. It would be great if a platform provided a framework for a simple but powerful process to let UX inform your designs regardless of your experience level.
UserBit Goals — A UX Platform that
- provides a unified set of tools for research and ideation
- organizes and provides presentable outputs for every tool
- provides a process guide and the tools to enable each step
- offers real-time team collaboration