Project Management Through A Design Lens
You’re An Experience Architect Developing Wireframes For A New Website. Where Do You Begin?
First, you review the project plan and take note of some key scope points:
- 30 wireframes
- Three rounds of revisions
- Visual design (to follow wireframes)
Next, you work on your assined tasks over the next 3 weeks.
In this time period, you create the wireframes, present them to the client, and make any necessary revisions based on their feedback.
After you receive the client’s approval, you review the wireframes with the visual designers so that they can start their design.
The review meeting is held, you walk through the wireframes, everyone is on the same page, and there are no pressing questions. Now your part is done, right?
Not So Fast…
It is easy to fall off of projects as soon as the majority of your core work is finished.
However, you are not done when your own phase of the project is complete – it is when all phases of the project, including the ones that follow your own, are finished.
Designers should see their projects through until the very (hopefully not bitter) end!
There will always be challenges when you are transitioning project work to another working team and when there are many cooks in the kitchen. But we can make project work as seamless as possible if we keep a few approaches top of mind before, during, and after a project.
Through a UX and visual design lens, here are some tips for kick-starting projects and making sure they run as smoothly as possible throughout the project lifecycle (These recommendations are also helpful when managing projects that involve multiple teams)
Start with an internal kickoff meeting
- Organize a quick meet with all team members. This meeting can be used to assign the project lead, and discuss the project plan and deliverables.
This is a good opportunity to make the team aware of what is in scope versus out of scope for the project.
You can also discuss who and what you are designing for, the number of iterations, how the teams plan to work together and keep each other informed etc.
Keep project roles top of mind
- In some cases, the UX Architects and visual designers are client-facing and will contact the client directly to ask questions and discuss deliverables.
This approach is useful and can eliminate any back and forth. However, it is the project manager who helps manage client expectations throughout the project. The designers should keep the PM abreast of any situations that might affect the project scope, schedule, and cost, and aim their focus on completing the core work without concern for PM duties and responsibilities.
The PM and Designer’s Roles are Treated as Separate and Distinct.
Encourage collaboration among teams
- Teams shouldn’t operate in silos. Face-to-face contact and collaborative discussions shouldn’t end once UX Architects hand over wireframes to visual designers.
The visual designers should be present during the UX design phase and the UX Architects should be present during the visual design phase.
A collaborative mindset and practice between the two teams will help to uphold the integrity of the designs and can be encouraged through internal workshops and brainstorming sessions.
Record Lessons Learned During the Project – Not After the Project Ends
- While the project is running, keep notes on what is working well and what is not working well. Is there scope creep? Does the client require more on boarding of your process? Has the agenda been followed in your status meetings?
It is best to keep a running list of these items and record them right when they happen. Sometimes debrief meetings are not booked until several weeks after the project ends. By this time, the project is not as fresh and top of mind and it is harder to recall details and situations specific to the project.
These lessons learned are important and useful, especially when reviewed during a project kickoff meeting (see #1).
The start of a new project is a good time for team members to discuss amongst themselves what can be improved based on previous, similar projects that they have worked on.
Are there any tips that you can share when managing projects that involve both UX and visual design? Leave them in the comments below…