Why UX is So Chaotic
It never fails. In almost every project I’ve worked on, there’s been a healthy amount of chaos. A certain design solution seems right, then, as if on cue, some new issue comes out of the woodwork. For awhile, I thought this was an artifact of poor process. I’ve learned, however, that it’s completely normal.
When UX is done right, it’s strategic. It asks tough questions about people using a product, the product lifecycle, how it fits into a market, and the ecosystem it lives in. While it also deals with screens, flows and technical aspects of crafting an experience, this strategic component guides that work and directly impacts the design solution. When those questions start being asked – Why would someone do this? How would they go about that? When during their day would they use this? – the foundation of a product changes. All the sudden, new requirements emerge: “Oh, wait, if someone is doing this, then that means it’ll affect that. We haven’t even thought about that yet”. Happens every time. Often, until you see something partially built or designed, you don’t even realize you haven’t thought of something. Iteration, and the ability to quickly scrap work and change direction, is key.
This is why requirements-based design is flawed, or at best, limited. A strictly requirements-based design (“Here, design to afford these tasks”) misses the value that UX can bring – that is, carefully examining and evaluating the DNA of the product, and building from a strategic understanding, instead of a checklist of requirements.
This can be frustrating. During this weird, iterative design process, things feel chaotic. That’s OK – it has to be. Without that chaos, without the constant “Oh crap, we didn’t think about this” moments, you aren’t getting to really great design. Embrace that chaos and understand it’s part of the process. Design isn’t neat and methodical – the faster you accept and understand that, the faster you’ll get to great products.