Originally published at: https://www.sitepoint.com/whats-behind-most-ux-issues/
Let’s start with this premise:
The vast majority of UX defects don’t come from a lack of skill or talent or technique or process.
They don’t exist because there are no UXers or Designers on staff. They don’t exist because nobody “gets” the idea of good UX or UI design.
They don’t, in my experience, exist because people don’t know what they’re doing.
That certainly happens, to be sure. But in the last five years of my nearly three-decade career in particular, it’s exceedingly rare.
Instead, what I’ve seen is that UX and design issues that are present in software products — sites, apps, systems — come directly from misalignment of individual intent. And there are three flavors of this: personal, organizational and political.
And in the interest of being even more mysterious and cryptic, I’ll say this: while I’m sure you’ve heard that you should focus on and uncover that intent, I say it’s a hell of a lot deeper than that.
In fact, the most mission-critical thing that needs to happen in project planning is the one thing that’s almost never discussed. You don’t read about it in articles or blog posts. You don’t see it in videos or online courses or keynote speeches.
In fact, virtually no one talks about it at all.
Which, of course, is why you and I, dear reader, are here together now. To share a story.
I worked with a client several years ago, and my experience with them taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten — and never will.
That lesson came, like most things, the hard way.
The client was a 2.8-billion-dollar organization, at the top of its industry. Basically, they served as in-house fulfillment for nearly every piece of personalized, printed collateral investors receive from just about any and every investment organization you can think of. They owned 85% of that market.
But being that big also meant that they were unbelievably sloooooooooooooow — slow to adapt to change, to the pace of technology, to the growing demand by end-consumers to research and manage their investments themselves.
So the company’s clients — the Merrill Lynches and TD Ameritrades and Edward Jones of the world — had been screaming for an online, self-service portal solution from my client for well over a year … and they had nothing to offer but promises of “we’re working on it.”
By the time I got to them, several of their biggest clients had become tired of waiting; they cancelled their million-dollar contracts and began developing their own solutions for their customers. So big, big money was being lost on a steady basis.
In digging to find out why they weren’t able to at least roll out a solid MVP for clients, I learned that the stumbling block was a disconnected workflow made up of several legacy systems and an unreal amount of human intervention. Add in a shocking lack of consistency across processes and practices and a willingness to jump and deliver different flavors of custom functionality for every client, and you’ve got a recipe for chaos.
Every single job was, in essence, a custom project, with very little repeatable efficiency.
Fast-forward: after several months, we developed a recommendation for replacing these cobbled-together systems and processes with Adobe Livecycle, which, at the time, had the processing/automation power and the tight integration they needed between the print and digital worlds. So I and four other people dotted i’s and crossed t’s and presented comprehensive recommendations and budgets.
And were met with complete and total hostility from stakeholders most closely connected to customer fulfillment.
I’m not talking about full-blown screaming matches, argument or pushback. More like a deep, dangerously simmering silent treatment.