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 One of Three: Validation, Research, Refinement

What every service company everywhere wants you the client to know:

You are the most important part of the entire project. You.

You’re paying us lots of money, and we’re the best at what we do, but you decide if this thing is going to succeed. You decide it by the quality of your solution, by the time researching and understanding your problem, by your sympathy towards the user, by your tenacity to bring this to life, and by your ability to hand it off to us the experts, totally and completely.

Here at Myriad we view our clients as extended team members. We’d like to write this blog series to educate you on just how important you and the decisions you make are. We’ve recently been reading Jane Portman’s UI Audit ebook, which is aimed at helping product owners do audits on their existing software. Below are snippets of her well-informed insights, along with some things we’ve learned from our 350+ projects. Check out her ebook here for even more.

And let the on-boarding begin.

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The first rule for the product owner in software: Validation.

On a given day, as many as 5 people of the Myriad team of 30 can be seen wearing the same event t-shirt. One of these well-owned t-shirts are from the numerous Startup Weekends hosted in Fargo. At these tech-heavy events they preach that your idea is worthless without anyone else behind it. The host knows well, his once-failed startup team spent two years and several million in investments building a product they then discovered no one wanted. Don’t do this. Ask before you build.

(Also, do yourself a favor and attend a Startup Weekend.)

You’re here because you have an idea. Ideas are neat. Some ideas created the wheel, and world-class companies, and solve real problems. And some ideas are to create drones to babysit your kids while they run wild and unattended through the streets. (That was a pitch from Startup Weekend 2016 and received nervous laughter through the audience). You might have an idea for an app, and it might be precious to you, but more precious to me is the space on my phone. Your idea had better be dang good and applicable to my life with my short attention span.

Or, you may not even have an idea, you may have a company and a budget and a need for market presence. Ask your customers what are their pain points. What task do they hate doing? What papers do they lose? What reports do they need to easily run? What takes too much time?

In the end, it might not be an app with your giant logo. In the end, you might not even need an app but decide to have a killer mobile-friendly website instead.

The big idea: it’s not about your idea, or you, or your logo. It’s about what the people want.

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The second rule: Research.

One of our favorite clients (and we have many) spent 10 years and a PhD researching for his idea. He brought us his baby: his idea wrapping in years of research of how to revolutionize treating behaviours in the classroom. Other software is creeping it’s way into the market, but our client is sure that through his years of experience and research, his methods are better. And they’re currently winning over school system after school system.

Speed to market is an interesting pressure in our industry. Websites and entire businesses can be launched with astonishing speed. This pressure puts pressure on this part of the process: validation and research. Let me assure you however, the first one to market doesn’t automatically control the market. Remember Myspace? There is capitalism in software and on the Play Store as well. Take a little bit of time to refine your vision. Make it the best for your users.

In 1990, Sam Farber reinvented the potato peeler for the comfort of his arthritic wife. As it turns out, we all would pay 700% more for that OXO potato peeler. Can you even find those old steel potato peelers anymore? The OXO story is iconic in the way that Farber saw a painpoint (literally) and went to work making hundreds of iterations to alleviate the discomfort. Even the potato peeler can be reinvented if the people want it bad enough.

Watch your users. Watch how they currently solve the problem. Find out how important it is. Watch how frustrated they become. Ask a billion questions. Research other solutions. Read the comments and reviews of those solutions.

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Rule number three: Refine Your Vision

Software is about refinement. It’s one of the most beautiful aspects in our entire industry. A strategist can hear a pain point from an end-user, a designer can solve in the UI, a developer can create the code, and with a click of a button that fix can make it across the world. We do not always get it right the first time, and neither will you. Ask the hard questions, listen to people’s level of interest, and iterate around your vision.

P.S. – Your team won’t think that undecided items are a weakness. In fact, they are a strength to your program. The healthiest thing for the product is to say “I think this item could go either way. Let’s try it this way for now and keep our eye on it.”

Refine and move forward. Refine and move forward.

Why would I, a mild-mannered Midwesterner, write to you in this extraordinarily-frank-I-would-never-say-this-in-real-life type of blog post? Because my teammates and I want to do work that we’re proud of, and we know that it starts with you. Read on to know why you’re important in User Experience.

Read Part II here.

Read Part III here.

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