How to Uncover Hidden Assumptions

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April 29, 2016

How to Uncover Hidden Assumptions

Outline
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.

Takeaways
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.

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April 29, 2016
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Transcript

  1. How to uncover 
 hidden assumptions Maria Matveeva Head of

    Design at DockYard @rgbcolor @dockyard
  2. Photo credit: Josh Felise https://unsplash.com/jfelise

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  7. Assumptions?

  8. @rgbcolor

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  11. Moscow Sacramento Montréal Baltimore Washington, D.C. Boston (to be continued)

  12. UX Design

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  15. DockYard.com @dockyard

  16. Hidden Assumptions - Why are they important? - How to

    uncover them - What to expect in return Photo credit: Susanne Feldt https://unsplash.com/sfeldt
  17. 1: Why are assumptions important? WHY ARE ASSUMPTIONS IMPORTANT? |

    WHAT TO DO | WHAT TO EXPECT IN RETURN
  18. Hello, 9-1-1? Photo credit: Josh Felise https://unsplash.com/jfelise

  19. Emergency call: -Hello, I’d like to report a dangerous situation.

    -Ok, where are you? -Rt. 95, between exits 51 and 52… -Are you in the city or the county? -…
  20. Assumption: Administrative borders matter to humans

  21. Assumption: What’s important to me,
 is important to others.

  22. EXAMPLE

  23. WHY? “Obviously, …”

  24. WHY? Very quiet! Obviously, I’m in the room!

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  26. WHY? Conflicting assumptions create nasty surprises and break trust.

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  28. WHO’S RESPONSIBLE? The professional

  29. Designer

  30. TYPES OF ASSUMPTIONS Assumptions 
 a CLIENT makes about UX

    DESIGN 1/3
  31. TYPES OF ASSUMPTIONS Assumptions 
 a CLIENT makes about UX

    DESIGN 1/3 Establish expectations
  32. EXAMPLE Pop quiz!

  33. EXAMPLE - When a firm designs a website for a

    client, 
 who is responsible for purchasing… • hosting • stock images • fonts • and any other required assets or services?
  34. EXAMPLE - The client is responsible for these things… •

    …but only after the designer has made the next steps clear for the client. It’s part of the service we provide.
  35. TYPES OF ASSUMPTIONS Assumptions 
 a DESIGNER makes about a

    CLIENT 2/3
  36. TYPES OF ASSUMPTIONS Assumptions 
 a DESIGNER makes about a

    CLIENT 2/3 Ask “stupid” questions
  37. TYPES OF ASSUMPTIONS Assumptions 
 WE ALL make about USERS

    3/3
  38. TYPES OF ASSUMPTIONS Assumptions 
 WE ALL make about USERS

    3/3 Know your own bias
  39. 2: How can we uncover assumptions? WHY ARE ASSUMPTIONS IMPORTANT?

    | WHAT TO DO | WHAT TO EXPECT IN RETURN
  40. 2: How can we uncover assumptions? WHY ARE ASSUMPTIONS IMPORTANT?

    | WHAT TO DO | WHAT TO EXPECT IN RETURN Yay! Practical tips!
  41. WHAT TO DO - Just like giving a talk… -

    Onboarding clients and collaborators - Set reasonable expectations, then over-deliver Establish expectations
  42. WHAT TO DO “Say what you’ll do, do what you

    say… and document it.” Establish expectations
  43. WHAT TO DO - Shared values first - Goal oriented

    - Use visuals Establish expectations
  44. WHAT TO DO - Make “obvious questions” your style! •

    Designers are often good at it. • “Just to make sure I understand correctly…” - Open-ended questions - When in doubt, reiterate goals. Ask “stupid” questions
  45. WHAT TO DO - Make “obvious questions” your style! •

    Designers are often good at it. • “Just to make sure I understand correctly…” - Open-ended questions - When in doubt, reiterate goals. Ask “stupid” questions Sometimes, there won’t be an answer. That’s OK.
  46. EXAMPLE Example - catching an expensive
 architectural assumption Ask “stupid”

    questions
  47. EXAMPLE “The user will log in, and …”

  48. EXAMPLE “The user will log in, and …”

  49. EXAMPLE “The user will log in, and … How are

    we supporting
 user accounts, logging in, errors, passwords…
  50. EXAMPLE “The user will log in, and … Do we

    need all this? (Client saves $20,000)
  51. WHAT TO DO Ask the right questions

  52. EXAMPLE!

  53. EXAMPLE! “You like this widget in green, right? We picked

    green because it’s calming.” Don’t do this, k, thanx.
  54. EXAMPLE! “How do you feel about this widget? Do you

    like its color?” Slightly better…
  55. EXAMPLE! “How do you feel about this widget? What do

    you think it does?” Almost helpful!
  56. EXAMPLE! “Talk me through what you see here.” Does User

    see Widget?
  57. EXAMPLE! “How would you normally approach (widget-related task)?” Does User

    care about Widget?
  58. EXAMPLE! “How did you last (widget-related task)?” Is User telling

    it like it is?
  59. WHAT TO DO Sketch together

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  66. WHAT TO DO - Map out the knowns & unknowns

    - Speed up the discussion - Expose difference in assumptions - Encourage “big picture” thinking Sketching helps:
  67. WHAT TO DO Sprint!

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  71. DockYard.com/design-sprints

  72. WHAT TO DO - Quickly validate an idea (an assumption!)

    - Test one feature - Validate reasons to prioritize specific product features - Work “quick and dirty” Design Sprints help:
  73. WHAT TO DO Share early and often

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  75. Daily.

  76. WHAT TO DO Claim responsibility

  77. 3: What can I expect in return? WHY ARE ASSUMPTIONS

    IMPORTANT? | WHAT TO DO | WHAT TO EXPECT IN RETURN
  78. WHAT TO EXPECT Everything will be awesome right away, with

    little work.
  79. WHAT TO EXPECT Everything will be awesome right away, with

    little work.
  80. WHAT TO EXPECT - May feel weird at first -

    This takes time. Plan for it. - Some answers may not be what you’d like. - But you’ll be a professional
  81. in summary…

  82. WHAT TO EXPECT - Avoiding surprises earns you…

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  84. Photo credit: Flickr user mariachily

  85. Thank you! Maria Matveeva @rgbcolor @DockYard

  86. Maria Matveeva @rgbcolor @DockYard Over to you…

  87. “Where’s the bathroom?”

  88. @rgbcolor @DockYard “Do you share the slides?”

  89. http://DockYard.com/blog “Is there more?”

  90. “Are there puppies?”

  91. Maria Matveeva No assumption is safe here. @rgbcolor @DockYard