Monica: The whole day was great but the surprising part for me was the unconference session on getting buy-in for UX in government. Three themes emerged from the session. These were:
- Get buy-in with stakeholders – You’ll need a senior manager to champion your cause if your department is not yet using a user-centred design process.
- Metrics – People like numbers, so tie UX back to improvement. That means you’ll need a system in place to measure and goals that define success.
- Skunkworks – If you’re starting from the ground up, take on a small test yourself to show the results. Test something that would be of interest to senior management. Show the output and the measures. Do something small and prove that it works.
Monica: For us it was just the perfect storm of things – the right people; including a director who was open to suggestions and therefore became a strong proponent for intentional design within our department. Someone new had joined our group from a private sector organization where they’d had a strong process around UX so we built that into our unit. Applications are more complicated than websites because there’s more interactivity so we needed a clear process anyway.
The interaction designers were tasked with the additional responsibility of ensuring Common Look and Feel 2.0 compliance. They designed both usability and accessibility in together; they had to wear both hats. The benefit of doing it this way is that you end up with higher compliance and usability than if you tried to introduce usability later or separately from accessibility or other requirements.
Monica: We were part of the application development shop. The interaction designers would get requirements from the clients and produce mock-ups to show how the front-end would look. Then they’d pass the mock-ups and requirements to the developers to build a back-end that would make it functional. The interaction designers remain accountable for making sure the rules are followed on the final product.
You can have a design group that’s separate or integrated; I’ve worked in both scenarios. Personally I think integrated is better because you can build relationships because people get to know each other.
Monica: Start inside your own group. Add an interaction designer and usability person within your own team. Be patient – it takes time to get acceptance and respect within the rest of the organization. Design in accessability and usability at the same time.