We are living an unprecedented time in our lives. The majority of us are staying at home and the whole world has been put on some kind of pause. Globally we are facing big challenges. Only those businesses that are considered essential are up and running. By consequence, only the presence of those people who work for an essential business is required. It may seem that only this small group of people is able to do something but this is not entirely true. We as designers can also provide value with our work in order to tackle these uncertain times.
There’s no need to remind ourselves that the goal of a User Experience Designer is to solve problems with people in mind. Well, good news! There are currently many challenges to work on and as life-time problem solvers. We have developed skills that we can share with those who have never encountered such challenges. And we can certainly use this time to refine our skills set to make the most of this self-quarantine as well.
Using technology to fill the presence gap
Social distancing is the best way to reduce the number of people infected with the virus. We find ourselves not only staying away from our workplaces but we’re also staying away from people. This may not sound so bad, but when it comes to sharing ideas, brainstorming or communicating complex concepts, the limited social situation becomes more crucial.
Today, more than ever, we need to be sure that we’re providing all the information that everyone needs to perform their work. Every team member needs to have a complete understanding of what, how and why they are doing things. Collaborative tools like Figma, Invison, Miro and Mural can help us to communicate our ideas effectively and give everyone in our team a voice. Collaboration makes work visible and this allows every team member to get involved. In turn, this gives them a sense of confidence and creates a momentum to keep getting things done.
As designers we have the superpower to communicate ideas without saying a single word. It’s our calling to use any tool that we have at hand. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost amongst fancy deliverables such as pixel perfect mockups, interactive prototypes, and the like. Yes! We must provide our best quality always, but for the sake of solving the physical presence gap we can share quick ideas first. A quick paper draft, a screenshot or even a freehand board where everyone can type and draw will get us on board faster and ultimately make everyone’s life easier.
Stay in touch.
Keeping the team engaged is now a top priority and technology is setting the stage for us with video conferencing and direct messaging. But what else can we do? A virtual happy hour isn’t a bad idea! At Nearsoft we use Donut to randomly meet with someone of our team for a non-related work chat. Virtual socializing is the perfect excuse to get to know our co-workers better. If you’re not the verbal type, don’t worry! You can also propose a virtual gaming session, share pictures of your at home workspace or your pets. The possibilities are endless!
Finding new ways to provide value
An essential matter of design is to understand who we are building for. Times of change will bring about new priorities. At this point in time our product or service can go one of two ways: it can become obsolete or be known as a product that evolved and helped people overcome the struggle.
- Touch base with users. This is the perfect time to run a set of interviews and ask your customers how they are dealing with this situation. How can your product or service help them make the most of it? By knowing this information we’ll be able to reshape our product to not only be a worthy investment but a differentiator that stands out to people.
- Help is on the way! Designers are not always the decision makers but we can be the ones who take the user’s concerns to those people who can do something about it. Acting like a bridge has always been the core of our work and this is now more important than ever. Some solutions will not be in our hands, but hearing people’s concerns will give us the necessary insights to adapt our businesses and to tackle the upcoming post COVID-19 challenges.
Being ambassadors of the change
For some of us, working remotely is not new. We know all the tips and tricks and this is why we should lead those around us who are dealing with remote work for the first time. Sharing our knowledge about tools, methodologies and ceremonies adds extra value.
No matter what product or industry we serve, COVID-19 time is the perfect time for crazy ideas. Not all approaches will be tangible but sometimes knowing that a problem exists is more than enough to have in mind what needs to be done when the time is convenient.
Continuing on the Path…
I invite you to read more about the UX Team’s thoughts. You can find UX material here.
Let me know what you think! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org