What’s the problem?
At its core, design is about effectively solving a problem. Without a solid understanding of what the problem you are being asked to solve is, how can you expect to solve the problem? So the first thing that I do when approaching a problem is to try to get the most accurate understanding possible of what the true problem is within the time constraints allowed by the project.
Often, it comes from looking deeply into why something isn’t getting used as it’s expected by digging into data, analytics, conducting user and stakeholder interviews, etc. The true problem might end up being something completely unexpected and disconnected from where the perceived problems are and the direction proposed solutions might be headed.
What’s the solution?
Once you have an understanding of the problem to be solved, the next step is how to solve the problem. Solving a difficult problem is quite possibly the second hardest part of UX, after defining what the problem is. That’s because you often need to do a fair amount of discovery work, through more interviews, deeper dives into data and analytics, testing and validating possible solutions via feedback from user testing, user and stakeholder interviews, wireframes, prototypes, etc. to see what works best. This is often the longest part of the process and can frustrate key stakeholders if you don’t have a good alignment on the desired outcomes and timelines the work needs to be accomplished.
Is it that simple?
It’s not. Understanding and identifying the true problem to solve is a team effort. UX is only part of the equation to finding and solving challenging problems in a product experience. That is why it’s crucial to work closely with Product Managers and Engineering partners to develop a holistic understanding of the challenges that are being faced when you’ve been assigned to solve a problem. It’s only through a deeply collaborative effort that you’ll truly realize a successful solution.
Sometimes you can’t deliver a solution without changing a core part of the business. This can create unintended wide-ranging ripples of change throughout an organization. To help mitigate this, a clear-eyed understanding of the potential impact of the solution and a focused implementation strategy needs to be had by not only the UX Team, but Product Management, Engineering, and the impacted business units.
Nothing’s ever final.
The real test comes after you’ve delivered a solution to the market. Did it perform as expected? Are there improvements that can be made? (Yes. There always are.) In the digital world, nothing is ever truly finished. There’s always room for iterative improvement and greater efficacy. The real question is, how well do you want your solution to be?
Which takes us full circle. What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?