Two Takeaways from: A Project Guide to UX Design

tags: Review, Books, UX Design

For anyone interested in web development and user experience, here’s a couple things I found valuable from my delve into the book: A Project Guide to UX Design. 

With the straight forward, humble introduction and helpful little book guide from Authors Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler, I knew there was potential this book could be a winner. 

Before I explain where I think the book shines, a brief run down. 

From project roles and company culture to user research and prototyping, the authors do a great job of showing the basic tools and techniques UX designers use. They give context to the field throughout, and share useful info for those working with or without a team. The book lays a great foundation, shares resources for further study and inspires readers to stay curious, empathetic and be leaders in creating and improving their own processes. Great for anyone in or looking to get into the UX or web design field.

Okay, now without further adieu here’s the first key takeaway for me:

What are we making?

In the second chapter websites are categorized into 4 main types: 

Brand Presence, Marketing Campaign, Content Source and Task-based Applications. There’s also the addition of E-commerce, E-learning and Social Networking Applications being combinations of these 4. Short descriptions and 3-5 different design goals are listed for each type, along with examples and additional resources along the way. 

This creates a vocabulary for thinking about projects - incredibly helpful. 

Personally I think this is where the book has great value. The thing it does best is give a large amount of context to the space. You’ll learn the what and why of the processes and roles behind making a professional website and defining the types of products (websites) your field and team produce is a great start here. 

Takeaway two: 

Don’t settle for blurry goals.

Digging deeper, getting to the bottom of requirements is a theme I noticed throughout the book, although  best shown in chapters 4 and 5. 

A big part of a UX designers job is directing the project. That means gathering requirements from stakeholders, doing user research, analyzing competitors sites etc and consolidating this into clearer goals for yourself or other team members to work with throughout the project life-cycle.

When gathering goals from a client or stakeholder, taking these at face value is easy. 

It could seem like “We need a blog” is completely valid, but as a UX designer your job is to find out what direction is best for the project and that means digging deeper and asking why. 

Is the company looking to be a “thought leader” in their space?

Are they trying to “drive traffic” to their site?

What's the underlying driver for building a blog? (or any project requirement)

Asking the right questions, consolidating stakeholder needs into solid, trackable project requirements and prioritizing these has a waterfall effect. If everyone has a clear understanding of what these goals are it means designers, copywriters, developers etc down the line can make their work more effective in helping the client reach their goals.  

It’s a simple idea but processes like SWOT analysis, heuristic analysis, effective planning, meetings, etc explained in the book or simply having the mindset of getting to the bottom of ideas can have a huge impact on your projects.

If you'd like to see a heuristic analysis I did in creating the Pascoes Plumbing website you can click here for my blog post or if you're looking to collaborate with me you can get in touch with the information below, otherwise that’s it for my short review of A Project Guide to UX Design,

thanks for reading.

Contact: daniel@thoughtfulhq.com