Thinking Out of the Box

Posts Tagged ‘Project Management’

“Project Scoping” or how to start projects RIGHT

Tobias Gölzer

Project Scoping Workshop

Prolog

Scenario 1 – The Swiss Army Knife

Monday morning, 08:30, a meeting room somewhere on the third floor of an office complex. At the table: several developers, project managers, marketing representatives, and two UX specialists. Their budget for the next three months is secured. The goal of the workshop is to define the first work packages of a long-term plan to revise their entire software and make it more user-friendly. During the workshop, it turns out that there are four work packages in total, with each attending project manager assuming that his or her package has priority. The result is a long dispute which ends in the decision to tackle all packages simultaneously. After burning through the first budgets, the big disappointment sets in – nothing has been finished, no noticable progress compared to the status quo has been achieved. The project is therefore stopped and postponed to an uncertain date.

Scenario 2 – The Top Secret Project

Tuesday afternoon, 14:30, the CEO’s office. In addition to three close confidants of the management, the head of the development team and two representatives of an external UX agency are present. They are planning to develop a new software in the next two years. The project team is confident that the software will be a resounding success, which is why the budget for the entire development has already been assured. The software is developed in-house and after two years, a creatively sophisticated software that has been extensively tested and approved by internal staff is launched. The potential customers did not know about the new development so far, because the management did not want anybody to know something about the innovative product before release.

One year later: The software has been available for 12 months, but only sold once – to a subsidiary. Two years of development have been in vain. The UX agency gets removed from the project, as it has apparently not provided an exciting enough experience for potential users.

Projects like those two exaggerated scenarios are common. A motivated start, a great team – but a frustrating result nobody can figure out. But why is that? What can be done to avoid such situations of frustration and, above all, money sinks?

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“UX Culture” in an Organization – How to Establish and Maintain it

Markus Weber
Markus Weber
November 23rd, 2010

User interfaces should provide great user experiences in order to be successful. Organizations often make use of the services of external agencies, such as Centigrade, to support them with the creation of outstanding user experiences. In the long run, however, it should be the goal to create the soil, on which successful UX design projects can thrive, within an organization. This does not necessarily mean that an organization must do all UX related activities on its own without relying on outside help – there should, however, be an organization-wide awareness and appreciation of UX and basic knowledge and capabilities should exist in-house. The following article describes some aspects that should be taken into account when trying to create such a “UX culture” within an organization.
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“Can’t we all just get along?” – On the Cooperation Between Usability Engineers and Software Developers

Markus Weber

It is still a common complaint uttered by usability professionals that organizations in general and software developers in particular “just don’t get” usability engineering. They are frustrated because they have all good intentions to provide support for creating user-friendly systems but the reactions they get are reserved at best and developers simply don’t buy into the whole usability engineering process.

So, whose fault is it? Who is it that is just not getting it?

As often in life, it takes two and an occasion to create a problem. Let’s have a closer look.
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“Make it Like the iPhone” or: Be Careful What You Wish For

Markus Weber
Markus Weber
November 17th, 2008

These days, clients often mention the iPhone when describing their thoughts and goals concerning usability and user interface design, e.g. during project kickoffs.

On the one hand it’s nice to see user interface design and usability getting a good rap through the iPhone and more people realizing that the user interface is more than just the topping on the cake, but still, whenever those “Make it like the iPhone” statements are uttered, there are some things to discuss to set expectations appropriately.

First, it should be clarified that such a statement can be interpreted in two different ways. For one, it can mean “Make the user interface as easy to use and aesthetical as the iPhone’s”, which usually is the intended meaning. But it can also be interpreted as “Conduct the user interface design project in a way similar to the iPhone creation”, which is usually not the intended meaning, even though those two aspects are intimately intertwined.

Let’s have a look at both aspects.

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