Do you think UX is something a Project Manager should concern about? Are UX and UI important in Project Management? What are the relationships between UX and UI? Let’s have a look at these considerations.
Hey Crizpers, today I would like to communicate the relationships among the UX (User eXperience), UI (User Interface) and Project Management. There are various beliefs regarding these elements and their connection. Some people think that UX/UI are a direct designer’s responsibility, others want to implement them into the project management activities. Let’s knock it down and define how could we integrate them together and whether should we try to.
UX vs UI?
First of all, let’s make the difference between these components transparent. I would point out at the popular entertainment story that is voyaging through the internet: how the customer explained the idea; how the project leader got it; how the analyst has designed it, and etc. I bet you know it and read a thousand of times.
Here we can see how the understanding and the perception of the same idea differ. And how different people see the same product. Most likely they were understanding distinctly as no-one, including the customer, has never seen or felt this kind of solution before.
This is a visual explicit description of how a miscommunication and misunderstanding could drop the final outcome. But is only a misunderstanding?
Feel and Elephant
Today I am a narrator. Here is another very famous story, but more ancient. As a short summary, three blind men was sitting in the market street and talking. They were discussing how much would they like to find out what an elephant is. A sales man with an elephant was passing by and heard the discussion. He was so kind to propose the blind people to touch his animal so they could have a chance to find out what it feels like. The excited blind men stood in line and started to touch the different parts of the elephant. Finally, they thanked the sales man and got back to their sits discussing what they have had experienced. One has started to describe the tucks, another was talking about the legs and the third one was describing the elephants tail.
What we can get from the story? Although they have been touching the same animal, they were discovering how different parts of it feel. Thus there is no mystery why these users finally had that much different experience.
How could we link both stories? In case of the elephant, blind men were the users who were getting a user eXperience from an animal. As for the swings, again different people were providing the vision of the application which will finally turn into the experience. Interesting, isn’t it?
Moreover, there is a huge chance that even within the same team which is developing a product the sense of it may vary from person to person. People may have a diversified understanding of a solution as they are working only with its certain part. And because it is way too time consuming to touch all the product inside and out people don’t do this.
Similar with the end users. There is a possibility they will be playing only with the certain part of the product. And the understanding of it could vary from user to user. From this perspective it should be native and intuitive no matter what channel the user enters the product from.
To clear it up, UX is about the experience that you are earning utilizing a solution. The general impression you are getting from the product during the exploitation and is about how enjoyable it is to use something. It usually comes from the first sense, so you either love it or hate it.
And this users’ impression impacts the business. If people love the product, the business earns money, if people hate it, the business experiences a loss.
To sum up, User eXperience is about the product look and feel, whether it brings value to users. If they love it or hate it. Whether it brings value to the business.
What about UI?
From the above we got the clarification that User Interface is a part of UX. Obviously, the user interacts with the interface and in most cases it is the first touch point. However, the general experience comes from an overall product solution which includes other parts but the interface.
For example, you have a marvelous website design, so much native, responsive and top-notch. The user comes in and cannot find the cart to process and order. Or registration is too complicated and many people do not complete it. Or, all is good about the web part, but when it comes to support, the support team is not performing well. This is also a part of the overall impression and the experience. The whole solution impacts the final outcome. Would you still love the product if you need to wait for the support team response for centuries, or if the information they provide is not sufficient?
Where the Project Management is?
Now let’s look into the integration part. I am talking about the integration of instances: UI, UX and Project Management. If you may recall, the general project purpose is to bring VALUE (Who the Project Managers are). As Project Managers we have the main accountability to correspond to the project’s KPIs and to deliver the worthy solution.
From the User eXperience clarification we have defined that its purpose is to make users love the product and through the users’ positive impression to also bring value to the business.
I guess we have managed to get the transparency. I would call UX and Project Management the Delivery Instruments, and both of them are called to bring value.
Thus we are as Project Managers to carefully consider UX and to try to integrate it into the projects so that it will become a natural part of every new design. By the design I mean not only the interface, but the main idea, architecture, workflows, processes.
Make a Sketch
Here is again an little story, but now it is from my real life. Initially I was a follower of a belief that everybody should do what they can do at their best. Thus, if you are a PM, then manage; if you are a designer, design. Initially it worked as I was not a sole follower of that idea. However, the life turned me to start a new position. No way, I was still a Project Manager. Unexpectedly for the new position it was mandatory to include sketches into the project specifications. Well, I was skilled in specs, but sketches..
That was new to me. From another hand, this gives more clarity from the very beginning of the project as by sketching you are eliminating a giant piece of misunderstanding, especially if visual sense prevails.
At this point my UI path has started. And it has started together with UX as within the specification we should design the workflow together with the usability and a possibility of the intuitive utilization.
Will not hide it, at first it was a nightmare. My early wireframes were so ugly that it was a pity to include them into specs, therefore my original specs were without pics. Well, now I could see and recognize how bad the first sketches were. The problem is that when a person does not have enough knowledge or experience in a sphere, it is not possible for him or for her to see the true picture.
UX and UI Importance
I has been struggling to wake up an artist in me for several months and finally my sketches became more pure, clean and fresh. Now a days I cannot imagine a spec for a new app or a startup without wireframes. It seems so obvious and natural to include them and to clarify your idea of the solution through them. Curious how things may change in a while!
So what I am about, as for a Project Manager it would be an advantage to know how the UX works. I was rescued by getting the relevant education through courses. In the modern world UX and UI come together, so you do not have to double your efforts in obtaining both facets. Perhaps this is not something mandatory, but definitely something good to have complementary. Moreover, I bet you will enjoy sketching yourself. And this will allow you to stay on a close term with designers and to understand their cruft better.
So are UX and UI important for a PM? Two more cents, as I say, this will bring more transparency, no matter whether you work with the external customer, on the internal project or with the team. Sometimes one picture could worth a thousand words and that will save a tone of time for all.
Let me know your thoughts about the integration of the User eXperience into the Project Management sphere. Do you feel that a skill to make good sketches useful for a PM? Please tell me your feedback in comments.