Resilient UX

For many developers, user interfaces are one of the most irritating parts of software development. Not only do you have to support a broad range of device types, different levels of user knowledge, and a variety of workflows, but any mistake you make can send hordes of angry users to your company’s support phone line. It becomes a delicate balancing act, especially as you learn more about the problem domain in your app. You may need to restructure elements of your user interface, change the way you present information, or even drastically disrupt user workflows to accomodate changes. However, you need to make sure that those changes don’t disrupt active work by the people who are trying to use the system to get their jobs done.

If you have a designer or a product owner with some knowledge of UX, they need to be a part of this process. However, many developers aren’t so lucky, and either have no design help at all, or have a designer who is overworked. The latter often end up coming into the work later on in the process, suggesting changes. Those changes can often be fairly sweeping, meaning a lot of disruptive rework. And that’s nothing compared to the disruption and rework that gets foisted upon users when many developers make UI changes. While change is often disruptive, it doesn’t always have to be so disruptive that people walk away from your software in disgust.

Design is a real profession and you really need to have a real professional working with you. However, for various reasons, sometimes that isn’t possible. Until it is, you need to get by as well as you can with whatever design skills are available on your development team. While not perfect, it’s better than nothing. Mainly, what you want to do is design your system well enough that your users don’t hate you, while making sure that you can still accomodate future growth. The thought processes we listed this podcast will help you with that. In the aftercast, we’ll discuss how to roll out a UX change from a more managerial level.

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