User-centered design gives any sort of development process a powerful boost. But integrating a new approach to design is bound to disrupt established procedures and relationships. Project members have to learn new skills and ways of doing things. Much of the look and behavior of a system won’t be designed by the same people, or in the same way.
At InContext, we’ve successfully trained teams on how to bring real customer data into their organization and integrate it into their technologies and methods. We’ve worked with many large companies, helping them address these problems and manage their projects to a successful and timely outcome. Having been in business since 1992, we’ve seen the introduction of many different technologies and methods and we know how to leverage customer-centered design to get the best out of any of them.
Many companies are now adopting agile methods—most often XP or Scrum—and finding them very effective in reducing chaos in the development process. Unfortunately, these same methods tend to disrupt existing arrangements. It sometimes happens that a working UX group is displaced by the introduction of XP and a development team that says, “We’re doing Agile! We’re not planning anymore!”
While any number of ‘Voice of the Customer’ methodologies can be used, we believe user-centered design offers significant advantages over other methods such as having a representative from each department or conducting focus groups or surveys.
But in reality, Agile methods depend entirely on a strong connection to the voice of your user. If your user isn’t a strong, powerful voice on your Agile team, there’s no way for rapid iterations and frequent testing to improve the product. Yet most teams find it impossible to make actual, full-time users full-time members of the project team. Most project teams end up using surrogates.
Contextual Design gives you a way out—a practical way to keep a strong user voice on the Agile team. Read our article on our work with one of our clients to find out how.
To improve process quality, Six Sigma has become a popular approach. It depends on careful measurement of business processes to find out what takes the most time and where defects are being created. When the process is changed, continuous measurement ensures that changes produce real improvement.
This highly measurement-oriented approach depends on deep insight into what is going wrong in the current process and how to change it to make it more effective. When the process includes people and people’s work strategies, that insight is hard to develop.
Contextual Design dovetails with Six Sigma process improvement by generating the deep insight you need. While any number of ‘Voice of the Customer’ methodologies can be used, we believe user-centered design offers significant advantages over other methods such as having a representative from each department or conducting focus groups or surveys. We have helped many customers gain a full understanding of people’s work strategies, intents, and problems. Learn about our user-centered design process and contact us to discuss how Contextual Design could be used in your organization.
When building internal systems, companies have to design the business process and software together, to ensure the software provides the right information and function to support the process as envisioned. Often software design and process design is done by parallel streams operating as part of a larger effort.
With Contextual Design, we’ve successfully coordinated these efforts, integrating both design streams using our in-depth understanding of the user’s work and of the business needs to define tested, proven processes and robust system interfaces that support them.
Since 1992, InContext has been a leader in moving the high-tech industry from engineering-driven to user-centered design, helping major companies across industries tame complex problems with innovative solutions that delight users. InContext can partner with you through coaching, hybrid teams, or complete outsourcing of design projects. Find out how InContext can introduce a new level of innovation to your organization.