Myriad Mobile’s design team has recently been reading The UI Audit by Jane Portman. Portman’s years of experience as a UI/UX consultant created the foundation for the ebook. Our Lead UX/UI Designer, Alison, was inspired by Portman’s research and wrote a three-part blog series about how Myriad approaches UX/UI with clients. Happy Reading!

Part Two of Three: Your Sheep, Good Enough, and Focus

This is part two in a series on you, the software client. We’ve just covered idea validation, research, and refinement. Now that your idea is firmed up, we can head into the shop. Next step, Discovery!

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Rule Number 4: Know Your Users

So you’ve firmed up your idea. Maybe on your own, or maybe with our team of consultants. You’ve just spent a lot of time with your would-be users, asking them endless amounts of questions. You now know your users the best. And you should. You should be one, or be married to one, or work with them. You know your group of people inside and out. You know what they want and what they don’t.

Empathy is an important rule in this industry. You are your user’s advocate. Make us understand the user’s problem.

Another of our favorite clients came to us wheelchair-bound later in life. She graciously explained her struggle as she adjusted to a new life, still wanting to travel, and how her idea could improve her situation. As our team researched, throwing our phones in disgust at hotel booking sites, we committed ourselves to rebuilding the entire hotel industry. We were moved beyond sympathy for this complete oversight of a large population.

Get inside your users mind, and then make us understand it. No one should own your users more than you, not even bleeding-heart UX designers.

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Rule Number 5: It’s good enough

Jane Portman’s call to wisdom in her ebook UI Audit (read here) in the area of ‘it’s good enough’ is especially poignant and wholly counter-intuitive. And she’s not the only one. Don Norman’s much-acclaimed book The Design of Everyday Things also touts the idea that your project does not have to get design perfect (or even pretty) the first time.

Let’s look at the iconic example of AirBnB. AirBnB began with two college students in San Francisco who could not afford their rent (shocker). They put an ad on Craigslist (also a totally amazing site with not so amazing design) for a place to stay with three mattresses on the floor and breakfast. To their surprise, people bought in! They grew slowly with a very simple website. Very simple. And people slowly bought in. But then they stalemated their growth at $200 a month. Through their research they discovered that people wanted big, bold, high quality pictures of the places they’ll be staying. They traveled rooms for let in New York City taking professional pictures of the spaces. Their income doubled in a week. From then, those large beautiful photos have been a staple on their site.

The big idea: don’t design it ‘perfectly’ the first time. This may be surprising to you, especially being written by a designer. Own the long run. Let’s start with the rock-solid foundation that is value to the users. And then we begin to invest more and more into the design. Paint and plaster won’t fix a steel bridge.

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Rule Number 6: Focus

Turning down suggested functionality is more important than accepting it. Especially in the beginning of your software’s life, focus on the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). What is the minimum that the software should do to fix your pain points? There should be only a few core functions to make your app go. Focus on those, and do them well. And then ship it immediately. Remember how important users are? Use them.

This is the time for the real and tangible feedback from your users. If the world were a perfect place you’d now be in Beta testing mode (but we won’t judge if your world has timelines that can’t be negotiated). Whether on the stores or in private beta testing mode, you should be listening to your user base. Because you and your software are in your young and impressionable years, you should limit the range of impressions. Be focused on the same group of people that you interviewed before. Keep your focus, and pain points, and main (small) demographic in mind.

See if your software is doing what it was intended to do. Test until you begin seeing both trends and variations in responses. This shouldn’t take more than 10 people.

After your software has matured through rounds of testing and iterations and you are confident that you are supplying a solution for a group of people, branch out to see how other people might be using it or what they might need. Or, begin to look at improving the ‘lesser’ priority functionality and tasks.

In any stage of feedback you might be in, remember that focused software is better than ‘please everybody’ software. You have the power to say, “That’s very interesting feedback!” and then decide not to implement it.

“So the vision continues to evolve, and we do keep adding things, but we’re very, very careful to only add things that don’t change the philosophy behind the product, don’t change the promise that we give our customers — that it’s going to be Zen-ware. My job is saying “no” a lot. You can’t make a tool that satisfies everyone. And if you try, it’s going to be a terrible tool.”

Peldi, founder of Balsamiq

Interview from UI Audit, by Jane Portman

Read Part III here

Read Part I here

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