Some time ago, I was sitting in a client meeting, reviewing the QA version of their website’s check out flow. The development team had just finished putting together all of the changes that I had designed for checkout, and I was looking through to make sure everything matched up. Luckily, many of the items that I had designed were accounted for, and the QA site was looking great. On the flip side, I found a few, smaller items, that had been missed. When I asked the technology lead about them, he replied that we didn’t have time to go back and fix them, and since they weren’t core functionality, we could put them on the backlog for later. This got me thinking ‘How many times have I heard this before?’, and then I thought ‘I know these items would enhance this flow a thousand times over, but I know that they’ll never really get done. We never actually go into the backlog’. Then I got to thinking… why?
Why is it that we forget about the little things? More importantly, why are the details of our designs and ideas being overlooked and missed? I have been in this profession for over 10 years now. This is a trend I saw when I first started, and I still see it today. Those building out our designs, often don’t see every detail, and when we point the smaller details out, they are often not important enough to fix. I don’t know how our current state still includes a lack of getting into this detail.
And not developing and designing to the details causes us some problems. First off, the details are usually where the “delight” of a product is. Follow a site like Little Big Details and you can see all of the many small details that make products so much better to use than their competitors.
The second problem we see when we over look details is that these small details do not usually take a lot of design or development time to make happen. In fact, if we took the small amount of extra time to design and develop the details, we’d see a tremendous payout with the user’s experience with our product. Thus we are forgoing this return of user delight, in order to make a schedule, or stick to a development process.
The third problem is our product experiences are not progressing at a rate that they should. I believe that missing these details is what is stifling experiences across the web. It’s not just the big product ideas that set a website apart. Most times it’s simply the UI and flow around that website that makes the difference. But without the details, and holding others accountable for designing and coding them, we are missing out on our own progression.
The thing here is that I don’t know why this is still happening. Why do we allow designers and/or developers to miss the details? Obviously there is more than just the UX team in play, and it’s a technology community problem, but I’m just not able to see why I’m having the same conversations from 10 years ago still today.
Therefore, I write this piece as a question to all of you. How are we still here, and how do we solve the problem of detailing out delight, and still not seeing our details being designed to and developed for? What am I missing that you are seeing out there in the world that can help me, and all of us get there?
Ultimately my goal is to stop getting these small “enhancements” put on the backlog or “shelf” and to start having my teams get it right the first time. I believe by doing so the products we all work on will be much better off, and our work can progress exponentially because we won’t keep coming back to the same old conversations.
Thus, what are your thoughts on how we can move forward from where we are to getting our details designed and developed correctly the first (or even second) time around?
As a jr. designer, I too design with the big pictures in mind and forgot the little stuff. Do you have any advise on how to avoid that?
Hmmm what I always force myself to do before I design any page or “thing” is to make a list of the things that they page/thing needs information wise (login, way to continue to the next page, etc), so that I can check off those things as I design. Maybe that would help?
Thanks for reading!