Monday 7 November 2016

Saving money by neglecting

It is simple, can we do it cheaper? Can we skip these steps to save money? My friend can do this in a day, your company should be able to do it in a day aswell. These are the 101 must say sentences for majority of the clients you will meet. How to fight it?

I know these questions well enough. As UX Designer I am in charge of the experience, the joy, the feeling. My work cannot be touched and in some cases, you don't even know its there. When I come to a meeting with a client who has no experience with UX, I am percevied as useless guy selling fairly tales. And yet, my work is important.

Building a house

How web pages are created? Well, a web developer comes to her computer and says: "Computer, please make me a webpage, make it responsible, modern-looking and nice." And the web page is born. Right? That is how many clients see the process. It is funny but it is also very real.

There is very good analogy for web building. Imagine you are building a house. There are certain steps along the way. Lemme just describe very simple concept:

  • Planning - How big house you want, how big garden? How many floors, how many rooms?
  • Scheme - Architect needs to draw your house, see if everything is in order, calculate the dimensions. Where do you want the kitchen, the toilet, the bathroom?
  • Electricity, materials, plumbing - You need to have electricity, water, you don't want walls from easily flammable materials. Static needs to be calculated so the house doesn't fall over. Either you have ultimate architect or you just need multiple experts to take into consideration all of these.
  • Build - Finally, when everything is ready you can start building the house according to carefully layout out and prepared specifications.

You can apply similar mentality to web building:

  • Research - This is your planning phase. You gather all the information, requirements, problems you are trying to solve.
  • Low fidelity wireframe - This is the basic black and white scheme of your page. It shows where is what. What is the logic and hierarchy of the page.
  • High fidelity mockup - This is pixel-precise image of the page that applies colors and clears the design making slight changes to the layout where necessary.
  • Product - This is your product, your web page, your software.

Leaving out steps

You can by all means leave all the steps of house building process and go straight to building the house while believing that those builders standing on the sun 12 hours a day will do all of the magic.

You can leave out the electricity, plumbing, materials and static calculations. Just don't be surprised if you have no water, your roof is collapsing inward into your house and your electricity is shortening every Sunday when there is too many people home.

You can leave out the scheme and the planning and have just one big room with toilet, bathtub, sofa, TV, computer, kitchen table, oven and no windows cause they were never counted with.

Same goes for web pages. You leave any of these steps out and you gonna hurt yourself, you gonna hurt the final product.

"We will do it"

One of the project I was working on suffered by this problem. Budget was low so clients decided to "do it" on their own. They payed Information Architect and Graphic Designer, but instead of getting Content Strategist, they decided to freestyle the texts and write something on their own. And instead of getting professional photographers, some guys with love for Instagram filters were asked to take the pictures.

The result was solid Information Architecture and Graphic Design. The texts and the photos were problematic and eventually let to redoing of the project. Luckily only thing needed to be done was to change the texts and photos. But that meant additional charges for doing double the job.

To me that was the irony in nutshell. All those things that clients were trying to save money on came back to haunt them, postponing the release and increasing the budget spent.

Explain it beforehand

Every time you meet with new clients, explain this to them. Explain to them the complexity of development, the need for planning, strategy, for maintaining order of steps. Its there to keep them safe as well. Its easier to change scheme before you even have materials bought than to start destroying already built house wasting time and materials just because you want bigger bathroom.

The sooner the issue is found, the sooner you can fix it. The price only goes up as you are progressing in the development process. And it tends to increase exponentially. Therefore always check with your clients before you progress to next step. Make sure they approve of what is in front of them.

Lay down the rules, describe the process. Do this before you start doing anything so all the interested parties understand. And if your clients are smart, they will think twice about cutting some important steps.

Explain to them that it is never so simple as it might look. Software doesn't just code itself out of nowhere. Skipping steps creates world of pain for everyone and it will still need to be fixed but for way more money. And if they have friend who can do it in one day, why are they talking to you?

You offer quality. And quality takes some effort.

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