When initiating a project with an agency or a development company it can be a daunting task to understand who does what and where you as the client fit into the picture. Below we have broken down the roles and responsibility of each team member and provided some tips on how best to interact with each member
Client Role aka Product Owner
The client usually approaches the agency or development company with an idea for the development of a “product”. The product is the deliverable and could range from an extension to an existing product such as a new feature on a website, it could be a new or upgraded website, or it could be a piece of custom software to improve a business process or to use in interacting with their customer base.
The client’s role is to explain the concept and provide the project team with an understanding of the business requirements such as goals, measures of success, milestones etc, a breakdown of who the users are, or if it is a brand new product concept then who the target user groups are. It’s also really important to understand if there are any other requirements for the product such as collecting certain information, complying with certain procedures, or integrating with technologies.
Throughout the development of the product design and the delivery of the product the team will come to the Client with questions and as a team will need to make decisions based on the requirements of the business and the users. These decisions will relate to the finer details of the features and may relate to prioritising the features in order to keep on track with timing and budget.
UX (User Experience) Producer aka Functional Researcher and Designer
The role of the UX producer is to work with the Client to understand all of the project requirements but most importantly the UX producer will advocate on behalf of the users throughout the entire project lifecycle.
The UX producer will research who the users are and create a profile for each main type which details information about them as well as what their frustrations and needs are. They need to get inside the head of each user type and understand what will motivate them to interact with the product. This information will then be used to drive the direction of the product.
User information can be used to define the look and feel which will appeal to the user groups as well as drive the functional design of the product. The UX producer will map out the path each user will follow to achieve their goals, describe user requirements in the form of user stories and acceptance criteria, put together the site structure using a site map, lay out the key content messages within each page structure and design the function of the features.
The key tools of the UX producer in communicating all of the above information to the rest of the team is page wireframes which can be turned into clickable prototypes. These wireframes and prototypes will be used to test the product design with the rest of the team and most importantly the users. By testing the design with the users the UX Producer will be able to catch any problems in making product intuitive. The end goal is to make the product as intuitive for the User so that they love it and keep coming back for more.
UI (User Interface) Designer aka Graphic Designer
UI and UX roles often get confused but their roles can be very different. The UX Producer described above cares about the user and how they will interact with the site structure, navigation, accessing content, filling out forms, what paths they will follow to complete their goals. The UI Designer designs the visual aspects of the interface, how the branding will be incorporated, what colours and font details will be used, how the content will be laid out and balanced so the user’s eye is not overwhelmed or confused.
For the goals of both Client and User to be met we may need to find ways to visually lead the user through a series of content sections. We may need to highlight important buttons using alternative styling treatments.
The Designer also works to ensure the overall look and feel remains consistent so that the user becomes familiar with the style. Designs are often created in modules or sections which can then be reorganised to create the various layout templates. By reusing design elements throughout the site the user learns very quickly how to interact with the site and what the expected behaviour is if they click and interact with certain elements.
Developer aka Software Engineer
The developer's role is to build the product into reality. They need to be involved throughout the planning and designing stages so that they can understand all of the project requirements. The developer will interpret these requirements and use them to come up with a technical solution. It is very important that the developer knows what the long term goals are for the project so that these can be factored into the technical solution so that the project is not limited at a later date when additional features may need to be added.
The developer works very closely with all of the other team members to work through the project features. They work with the UX producer to accurately describe the requirements in the form of User Stories. User stories describe who will interact with the product, what they need and why. They usually follow a format such as: As a ….. I need …. , so that …… . Each user story will also have a set of acceptance criteria which will describe the details of what needs to be put in place for the user story to be successfully developed and rolled out to users. Below is an example of one;
User Story example: As an end customer I want to be able to complete a transaction for the top I have selected so that I can complete my purchase.
Acceptance Criteria example:
- Shopping cart page with product details, quantity and proceed to checkout button
- Checkout page with payment and shipping forms
- Payment gateway chosen and set up for processing payments
- Thank you page to confirm payment has been processed
The above example could even be broken down into far more detail to describe the fields which are needed on each page to collect the data, links back to previous pages to continue shopping, multiple payment options, shipping options including connecting to shipping integrations to calculate shipping rates etc and much more.
The Developer also works closely with the Graphic Designer to understand all of the design specifications so that they can turn the requirements not only into functioning pages but also pages which reflect a design which will appeal to the users visually.
End User aka Customer
While the end user is not invited into the Project team as an active member, every decision that shapes the end product should be made with their needs in mind. In order for the product to be successful and for the business's goals to be met the product has to be actively adopted and embraced by the user base.
There has to be an initial motivation for them to sign up or register to become users. Their first impression of the product needs to be positive. They need to be able to intuitively navigate through the pages as required to complete their goals, and they need to love it so much that they return to use it again and again.
By having the UX Producer research and define their needs and frustrations and then to have all team members regularly make decisions and create designs with the users in mind we create an initial design which the users should love. To validate this concept we need to follow through with user testing to ensure we are on the right track and identify any parts of the product which might need further attention. We do this by conducting workshops, surveys and / or one on one interviews. We analyze the feedback and findings to establish insights into their motivations. We then test at each stage of the design process, initially paper prototypes sketches, then computer generated prototypes, then the graphic designs. Each time we test we walk the user through the journeys or scenarios which were created in the early stages of the project. These journeys detail the steps the user needs to complete to achieve their goals. By asking open ending questions around what the user expects to happen when clicking through the design we identify if there is any mismatch between what was expected and what was designed and are able to adjust as necessary.
If you have an idea for a product which you are wanting to develop, or even just a problem that you need help solving, reach out to our team and we can walk you through the steps we would take follow to start to turn your ideas into reality.