How to Uncover Hidden Assumptions

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April 29, 2016

How to Uncover Hidden Assumptions

1: Why are assumptions important?
A difference in expectations is one of the most preventable causes of projects going wrong. And among all expectations, assumptions can be the most dangerous. They feel so “obvious” that no one even bothers to bring them up. But when collaborators act on conflicting assumptions, it’s only a matter of time until problems arise.

2: How to deal with them
UX designers are well positioned to help. To uncover hidden assumptions, ask questions and share work-in-progress. Diagrams and sketches help facilitate discussions and confirm “big picture” assumptions. Design Sprints help to quickly validate a product idea or a feature.

3: What to expect in return
Like with any best practice, the return on investment with finding assumptions isn’t always immediate. It’s an investment into doing solid work – not an easy fix to an obvious problem. Knowing assumptions will prevent work and time being wasted in the long run. Over time, it will help establish trust with the client and the team.

The skill of finding and addressing hidden assumptions is necessary to prevent nasty surprises down the line - and to keep client and team relationships productive in the long term. Attendees will walk away with a roadmap to dealing with assumptions in UX Design projects, as well as specific techniques and example questions they can use in almost any situation.

Audience Level: General
UX practitioners on all levels need to know how to ask good questions. Those just starting out can contribute to any project they take on by looking out for hidden assumptions. Those who are more experienced, and might be leading teams will benefit by directing attention to the potentially problematic assumptions in the planning stage.



April 29, 2016