Iâ€™ve been thinking lately about how UX is usually brought in to answer â€œhow will we build it?â€ questions, but not â€œwhat will we build?â€ questions.
â€œWhat will we build?â€ questions deal with the matter of finding out what usersâ€™ needs are and connecting those needs to something the business can actually do. Getting the right answer to this question means that the organization doesnâ€™t spend a bunch of time building the wrong thingâ€”building something that, no matter how well designed, doesnâ€™t meet anyoneâ€™s needs. The user experience field offers some great tools for learning about users and answering the question of â€œwhat will we build?”
Of course, this question is usually answered long before UX is involved.
Instead, weâ€™re usually involved at the point of â€œhow will we build it?â€ This question assumes the matter of what to build is already settled, and instead all thatâ€™s left to do is figure out what the design should be. UX can offer value here, obviously. The problem is that weâ€™re usually pigeonholed into answering only that question, even when it turns out that weâ€™re working on a feature that should never be built because the design problem was framed wrong from the beginning.
The effort to push UX earlier into the design process is an effort to get closer to the â€œwhat will we build?â€ question, but part of the problem we face is that there are already people who â€œownâ€ that question, and our effort to provide more value can look like a challenge to them.
Iâ€™m not sure what to do about this, yet, though. Just pondering it.