What I’ve learned from my mistakes: Part III and conclusion

This is the last of three posts covering what I was going to talk about during the UXCampLondon. You can check the previous ones here:

We focus too much on the users

I know this is going to sound nuts to some of you, but personally I think we spend too much time thinking on the users. Don't get me wrong. Obviously users are key stakeholders on any project but, I've seen too ofter how we spent days creating user journeys, personas, etc., without any actual research, or at least enough information. And more often than not, once the journeys and personas are created and signed off, we just put them in the drawer and never revisit them again, or use them as part of our conceptual design and wire framing process. Then, what's the point on creating them? Because they are a cool deliverables? "Hey I'm a UX Designer and I create personas". Because we're charging our clients for those days? We create them for the sake of following a methodology, another deliverable more? Personally I believe that unless you do a proper research, and use journeys and personas as a central tool in your design process (the whole process, from beginning to end), that time will be better spent in other things like:
  • User flows. Getting a really deep understanding of how every single page and feature of your website wrongs. A great document to discuss with your developers.
  • Study the key tasks your site/app/etc has to do. As Robert Hoekman Jr. says in his book Designing the Obvious, Situation Centred Design could be a much better approach than 'User Centred Design'. For instance, if you're creating an app to upload pictures to Twitter, how relevant is to know that your user is a 25 years old guy, art student from East London? What you should focus is on learning everything about the activity and situation around taking and uploading pictures. The who, what, when, where and why.
I don't know you, but my projects normally are constrained by time and budget, so I prefer learning about those situations and tasks rather than about the users, specially when there's no budget for research.

Conclusion

But as I said, I could be wrong, so I'd love to know what you think about these three topics. What I'm really sure is that we have to stop blaming others about what goes wrong, be more humble and think about what can we do to improve our working relationship with other players.