Good UX in a 'Yes Man' World
"Just give them what they want, we know it is wrong but..."
I was mortified the first time I heard those words. What happened? Why did my leader no longer care to ‘fight for the user!’ I never found out why the will was lost, but I maintained. I continued to push for the best experience on my own, building what I knew was necessary and recording every decision branch in my personal notes. I rarely needed these notes while presenting, but it was an invaluable reference when someone would suggest a solution I had already worked through; either it was lacking or it was a secondary option possibly worth testing. By striving for the best experience, I built a stronger network beyond my immediate team. I knew I needed to present a solid case in every meeting and presentation because I was the end of the line. If any issue was escalated, I would automatically lose.
In order to build a solid plan I needed a solid foundation. I met with end users, both first time users and daily users. I got my hands on raw data, met with analysts and perused their reports. I spoke to business owners when I had well-thought-out questions or hypotheses. Not only was I prepared for every angle, my diligence gained trust with external teams that I was prepared for every angle.
Occasionally, limitations would kill my dreams. There were times where I had to adjust the experience with a band-aid. . Together with my project team, we tracked each piece of tech debt and logged the necessary means to correct it. Sometimes that meant we needed more development time. Other times, we dealt with vendor limitations.
Each time we were limited to a band-aid implementation, I would build out better solutions. Should the opportunity arise, the necessary wires and documentation were available. I would have been crushed if development suddenly had time to implement a better solution and I was too busy with another project to get them what they needed.
In summary, be resolute and faithful to your users. Educate yourself on everything related to your projects. When you ask members of other teams to share their expertise with you, they develop trust in you. When you understand the importance of their contribution, you can utilize their knowledge to explain your added value. Our proficiency as UXers is intertwined with the expertise of others. We exist to bolster the ability to reach business goals.