My very first project at my new job and the opportunity to fly solo! Fresh out of college with my shiny new degree and budding with energy to make the world a better place through my work, I was excited! I knew my never-say-never attitude would help me navigate this project with flying colors but boy, was I in for a journey!
My project was about refreshing the legacy code and along the way 'fix some small UX issues' and 'make it match the current style guide'. It seemed easy enough but it wasn't!
fix some small UX issues and make it match the current style guide
Firstly, what are 'small UX issues'? Secondly, 'make it match the current style guide'? It wasn't enough to just do so visually right?! All my excitement started to turn into this unfamiliar feeling in my gut! I shared my reservations with my team and they encouraged me to do the best I can. And so I did.
I prepped for my first meeting with the stakeholders i.e. dev and product. I had had some discussions with my product partner before but not as much with the dev team. I figured, at the very least, I'll make some connections and that will set the foundation for our journey forward.
Come my first meeting, I am sharing my findings with the group and I realize my audience is varied. I am resonating really well with some folks, some are just not engaged and a few do not see any value in my findings at all. It isn't helping that we aren't co-located either. Amidst, 'I don't see why this is a problem', 'We have been doing this for a decade and never heard of this', 'Oh.. how long have you worked with this product... what do you know' and even 'I can do this just fine myself, you didn't pick the right user'; I began to realize my work was cut out for me. These concerns were consistent with a team that wasn't exposed to UX and didn't really understand what we did.
I don't see why this a problem
I can do this just fine by myself, you didn't pick the right user
It was no longer just about doing the project, but more importantly, it was also about establishing trust and building the team's UX knowledge and potential. Since, we were all learning from each other, I tried a number of different things with the team and found that some things worked better than others.
I established a cadence with the team where I started to make my meetings more hands on. I would present a new idea and then work on it with the team. This way they could see how we UXers actually did our job. Also, It was true that I was new and this, I thought, would be the fastest way for me to gather all the knowledge in the team via our subject matter experts.
I also wanted to ensure that people would feel comfortable with sharing their ideas and would have a voice, that it would be more of a dialogue than just a UX recommendation. It was clear they hadn't done this before and certainly not in this way. Over time, the team started to feel heard and then started to open up. They started to look forward to our weekly sync-ups and some would even come prepared with their ideas on something they noticed that needed fixing. We weren't really Agile, but I felt the weekly cadence worked well for us all. We eventually managed to accomplish more goals than in our initial 'scope' and that would definitely not have been possible without all the team work.
Together, we iterated based on shared feedback from product, dev and UX. Eventually, when I was rolling off the project, I knew I had created a team that was now UX aware and could make better decisions even when any UX help was not available. I consider that a win!