Imagine you’re in the midst of a fantastic design review of your latest wireframes with your client, when suddenly, they switch from the main line and hop onto the branch line by going on a tangent.
This blog series on tangent trains has focused on how to get back on track (and maybe even benefit) when faced with the common causes of derailment in UX workshops, and UX research. In this third and final post, we’ll focus on UX design reviews and how to manage the most common types of disruptions that you will face.
During design reviews, you want everyone to be on the same page and focused on what is being addressed in the review. When your client becomes distracted and goes on a tangent, you will need to refocus them. Distractions may come from a variety of sources and for a variety of reasons. Clients may become distracted because of the type of learner they are (visual versus auditory), spelling or grammar mistakes in the designs, the day or time the review takes place, or the review, in general, lacks a clear direction.
How to get back on track: You will likely need to interrupt the client who has gone on a tangent, or stop an argument if you have recognized that it is going nowhere. Remind your client of the original topic and direction of the review. Try to move the tangent from the yard to the engine house; at least, until the first topic is resolved. Remind your client of the objectives of the review and have them decide whether or not to continue aboard the tangent train or return to the original objective. Be cautious here. Allocating time to the tangent may mean less input elsewhere. To help avoid situations that create distractions, continue to reassess and possibly adjust the style and content of the design reviews to suit the types of learners involved and ensure that you have a clear agenda for the review.
Feedback That Is Too General
During design reviews, you are not looking for general purpose impressions or anecdotal feedback. You need specific feedback to move forward. For example, when reviewing design wireframes, you need feedback regarding the interaction design that is focused on structure and information architecture, and not visual design components (i.e. placeholder text, incomplete visual design assets, lack of branding, etc.). General purpose feedback may also be due to unclear (or lack of) usage scenarios. General feedback from clients usually describes or reflects on the design as a whole rather than its details or exceptions. Since this feedback is the general impression of the design, it does not help the design or research teams move forward with updating workflows and interactions and conducting meaningful user research.
How to get back on track: Be direct in the feedback that you need from stakeholders and help them avoid getting distracted by such design elements as placeholder text or incomplete visual design assets. Explain the purpose of the review so that they know how to help. This also gives you the authority to push your client to move forward in the review and helps you get approval for the next design steps.
A Runaway Feature Wish List
Some project teams like to implement a universe of components the product or service does not need. Consequently, a feature wish list tangent train rolls out of the station.
How to get back on track: With such enthusiasm, it may be helpful to time box project milestones (e.g. features). Otherwise, it is very easy to make something too complex. The team needs to remind themselves: “What can we build? How likely is this to be an issue? How can we validate the trip on the tangent train?” Setting a strict timeline will help avoid feature overload and enable and remind the team to stay on track.
So, be confident during your next UX design review. Although you will likely encounter these disruptions caused by tangents, by following these techniques, you can get your review back on track, achieve your objectives, and keep your UX design review chugging along to the next stop.
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