So, which conversation do you think I’m referring to?”  Really think about it for a minute. Now keep that thought in your mind.

You’ve most likely been on a project team and have an understanding of what it takes to move an idea from concept to design and then to developed and finally delivered. If you don’t know, well … It takes a lot of really smart people acting in unison. They all have to come to some sort of agreement on a lot of very complex conversations and decisions.

The group must create a beautiful, easy to use application all while making sure the product is converting customers, sales leads or performing it’s intended business function, etc. This is no easy task.

That is why most of us also know that many projects go over budget and past their intended deadlines.

I don’t have to convince anyone that these complicated and intricate business processes take a lot of conversation with a lot of people, all needing different assets, outcomes and pushing different agendas to meet their own personal or corporate goals.

The people I’m talking about are the business stakeholders, designers, developers, QA testers, project managers, and countless other business subject matter experts, directors, bankers, pilots, etc., that you’ll need to work with to make the product a reality.

At the end of the day, each of these roles has to come to some sort of consensus on what the experience should be and deliver that product in time and on budget.

Like I said before, this stuff is not easy.

Every conversation prior to that product being developed and delivered, from the time the idea comes out of the initial person’s mouth until the time the first pixels are tested for their utility, is a massively large game of telephone.

You know what I’m talking about. Yes, that’s it. The game we all played in grade school.

There are a host of conversations taking place and some of the conversations and decisions will ultimately play a role in shaping the customer’s and end user’s experience.

And an extra cheers to you if you’ve noticed I’ve not talked about the end user’s input in this already complicated conversation!

The end user will ultimately be the judge of the project success. These are the people who will be using the product. It is their input that is vital to success.

So, what do we know? We know we’ve had a lot of conversation amongst the project team and there are a lot of supporting materials to supplement the conversation. The project has gone in several directions, some good and some not so good, but you’re going to deliver a product almost on time and almost budget!

Yay! Cheers everyone!

Hold on. Don’t get too excited. On the delivery of the product, there are 2 main things to consider. Is it functioning properly and can people actually use it and complete the tasks in a timely manner with little confusion?

BOOM! Right there, did you see it?

That’s the conversation I’m talking about!

The project team bottled up their conversation and displayed it on a screen for the end user to find and interact with and hopefully complete it’s intended function.

Like I said… NOT EASY.

The application, user flows, and screens are the culmination of all of the conversations wrapped up into a pretty UI.

Think of it as sign-language. The end user doesn’t hear the conversation. He or she interprets the meaning from body movements and placements of hands, motion of arms, position of fingers, etc.

What we don’t always think about is that to the end user, there isn’t a conversation behind the scenes and if they even think about that for a minute they probably have no idea what takes place to make this UI work for them.

This reminds me of something my cousin said to me the other day. He said, “when you say develop to me or other words like the project or business analyst, you could just as easily use words like stuff. I’d still have no idea what you are talking about.”

Ha, right. Well, not really. My point is that the end users have no idea what it takes, nor should they.

The users see the conversation, unknowingly, of the project team through the lens of the UI and understand (hopefully) the interactions between UI components, screens, applications.

The conversation doesn’t end with the delivery of the product. The conversation is only halfway there and should not be considered complete until a user can sit down without any understanding of what got the product this far and be able to use the interface with minimal intervention.

This is the feedback loop and final communication that is needed to keep the project going and should be added in at certain times during the project. More to come on usability testing your products later!

Thanks for reading!