Reducing Design Risk

Lean, agile, do more with less. Again, and again, design culture urges us to move quickly and trim research and design operations to the point where design becomes a mere thread in the larger corporate spool.

Author and designer Nikki Anderson explains the consequences of this pressure to conduct research at lightning speed:

“When we’re asked to synthesize at the speed of light, user research becomes a way for teams to take a shortcut — to invent assumptions based on quickly made correlations, opinions, and quotes.”

The result is design based on assumptions or incomplete information about users and customers. For example, a Fortune 500 company (let’s call it Company Q) hired me to conduct a usability test for a complex user interface (usability testing involves a series of one-on-one sessions with real users who are asked to complete specific tasks while using a product or piece of software).

The test yielded what would likely become recognizable patterns, and I was halfway through the analysis when I was ordered to pause and send the client the findings immediately. My explanation about the need for more time to conduct a thorough and nuanced analysis fell on deaf ears:

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