On July 23, TryMyUI hosted a webinar to discuss how to reach team synchronicity in an iterative UX design process. Ritvij Gautam, CEO of TryMyUI, joined by Jennifer Romano Bergstrom, UX Researcher at Facebook, shared insights on iterative UX and how to create an efficient team workflow. Here is a recap of the Q&A from the webinar.
Q: What are some best practices in project management and teamwork you follow at Facebook?
Jen: As I mentioned earlier, we include the product team throughout the entire development cycle, so a bunch of times we are discussing the product and where it’s going, and together we’ll figure out what kind of research would best address the questions and what we want to learn. So i work with them throughout the entire project, I may go back to the drawing board to come up with the most recent research design, but like I said, we’re working together throughout.
Here, we actually use Facebook groups to communicate a lot of things, so the various projects that i’m on, we have a separate group for each one and the entire team that’s working on that project is a part of that group. So we use that to communicate regularly. Whenever there’s something new we’re posting to the group, we’re discussing it on the group, which is very helpful because we’re not having in-person meetings all the time. We still have those in-person meetings about once a week to hash out anything that’s new.
That’s what we use here to communicate on a daily basis, and I would highly recommend using something, whether you use Facebook groups to communicate regularly, or some other internal product, or you know, whatever you want to use to allow that sort of communication. I think that’s really important.
Rit: I think it’s amazing that you guys use Facebook groups, you use your own tool, which allows for collaboration and communication and you use that to allow the whole team to be in the loop on the design process. And I think that leads into our next question, which is…
Q: Let’s say you have to work on a project that involves geographically dispersed teams from different companies, working together the first time, how would you help build a close and efficient collaboration between those teams?
Rit: I think the distance is felt when there’s a lag time in collaboration, when you need to come back to the table after a couple of days to share your analysis. If the analysis is happening collaboratively, simultaneously, where as soon as insights are being found they’re immediately being relayed to the rest of the team, and the rest of those team can take those insights and point back to the specific data evidence from which the insights have been extracted, everyone is in the loop.
If I’m looking at something that my teammate found out just a minute after he found it, it’s almost like they’re across the table from you saying “Hey! Check this out.” That really drives collaboration that bridges the geographic distance.
That distance is really felt when you have to account for time differences, communication problems you run into when you’re setting up a meeting. But you can set up fewer meetings when everyone is in the loop with the data; you have to meet less frequently because the purposes of the meeting changes from getting everyone up to speed to deciding, what do we do next? and I think that helps in a big way.
Q: As a product manager, how can you engage everyone on the team and still move quickly? What’s the key to striking the balance between iteration and collaboration?
Jen: Well this kind of goes back to what i was saying about including people throughout the entire process and that’s really the key to keeping people engaged. They should understand how participants are going to see the product and if you are using these communication tools to continuously communicate what’s going on, what you learned, what your thoughts are about the process, the product, the next steps, that also really motivates people and keeps them involved.
Sometimes people lose motivation not because they are not genuinely interested, but just because it’s falling off their radar. People are busy, people are working on different things. You want to stay on their radar and keep them engaged and interested in what’s going on.
Rit: To address the second half of the question, you want to iterate as often as possible, run as many tests as possible. And really iteration is driven by how quickly you can extract insights from the data of the previous iteration and implement those so you can iterate again.
Collaboration reduces the time between iterations so you can iterate more often and faster. The key to striking the balance is to iterate only when you’ve accessed as much of the data as possible from the previous iteration. You haven’t just skimmed it and then you’re iterating again, you want to implement changes that are relevant and will yield fruit, will yield different analysis in the next iteration. You have to change something and make a good and significant change and only then will iteration pay off.
You can’t just iterate on the same product; if you’re not altering something, you can’t iterate on the same version because you’ll just get back the same feedback. So you want to use collaboration to effectively analyze the data so you can make the most impactful changes to your product and then iterate. And that’s really the key to striking a balance.
Q: With multiple projects and tight deadlines, what’s the best strategy to ensure the stakeholders and leadership would be fully on board to extend project deadlines to incorporate usability testing into project plans?
Rit: This is a great question and it’s really the meat of the matter — at the end of the day, how do I convince someone to either give me the budget, or give me the time, or both, to run my usability tests? I think there’s something about video data and video evidence, especially when you can present it effectively to the stakeholders, that makes it transcend from opinions and personal feelings to something more factual. And really what stakeholders care about is whether they can actively track the usability testing’s impact on the product.
In the past the challenge has been that when there’s a lack of collaboration it feels like, after approving usability testing, you go away for a long time and there’s no communication until you come back with a full set of results.
That’s harder to believe than if you can show a step-by-step iterative process where everyone else is in on the loop, your whole team is in the loop, and so are the stakeholders, representing everyone’s contributions back to the stakeholder, back to the leader. And at that point it becomes a lot easier for them to approve usability testing because they’ll be able to clearly see the impact usability testing is having on the project, on the product.