How to ensure every member of your R&D Team is focused on User Experience

R&DImagine that your company’s top representative has just issued a new directive from the top, and it is regarding the development of software applications and user experience focus. So, the project manager who is over the IT software development team has the undesirable task of relaying this information to their project members. How can this assignment be accomplished appropriately without adversely impacting the team’s morale?

Well, “It’s all in the presentation.”

This is a phrase that has helped great leaders in a wide range of different supervisory roles. From small departmental assignments to large corporate projects, change is something that most people do not want to hear. Consequently, when a new corporate directive comes from above, it can provoke numerous reactions from amongst the group including: anxiety, fear, pleasure, resistance, and discouragement. To eliminate all of the negative reactions, it’s important for the project lead to develop a preemptive plan. Thereby, setting the tone for rapid changes and moving each member of the group forward to achieve them. The following is a brief guideline for ensuring everyone in the group participates and reaches the intended goals and objectives.

Setting the Tone for the Meeting

Instead of opening up the meeting with the statement, “the guys above are doing it to us again,” the leader must flip the script by saying, “team we have another opportunity to stand out above the competition.” This method can assist in setting a positive tone as well as producing a high expectancy environment amongst the group. This approach will also give the project lead a chance to eliminate many hours and even days of unproductive discontentment.

Brainstorming and Creating a United Foundation

Once the tone has been set, the project lead can move full speed ahead by involving the entire group in brainstorming ideas. Brainstorming is an appropriate activity, specifically for this directive because user experience focus involves getting both the software developers and the users solidly connected. Therefore, after the team has established a united foundation to work from (i.e. clear direction, plan to achieve), the employees can work individually to get their user networks involved.

User Experience Design Training

If the project team’s previous focus has not been on user experience, the team should be brought up to date with the most recent strategies in this industry. This task can be accomplished by providing each member of the team with User experience design training. Based on the company and their financial capability, the training can be done collectively as a group or individually. Whatever the situation, these user experience design courses can help to better equip every member with what they need to be successful.

The topics covered in these training classes will often include:

  • What is user experience focus?
  • Understanding and adopting user centric processes
  • Generating creative ideas and Ecosystems (i.e. involving users from specific online communities to beta test for user experience)
  • Establish User Centricity Metrics (measures compliance towards goals)

Shifting an IT project team to user experience focus can be a challenge within any organization. However, setting a positive tone for the new direction can be accomplished. By providing each member with clear directions and the tools that they need (i.e. user experience information and training), the project leader can ensure every member of the team is focused on user experience.

Danielle Arad

Danielle Arad is Director of Marketing and User Experience Specialist of WalkMe.com, the world's first interactive website guidance system. She is also chief writer and editor of UX Motel, a blog for user experience experts. Follow her @uxmotel.

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