Have you ever opened your sketchpad for a landing page where you’ve been given little direction beyond buzzwords like “exciting” and “fun” and the worst, “modern,” and felt intimidated by the blank canvas? I know I have, and I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years.
Design Constraints in UX Design
It’s a common problem for any creative. When you have no limitations, everything is an option. You may think that’s a beneficial scenario to be in since your creativity isn’t being stifled, but it can actually be a hindrance. We’ll get back to that in a second.
The same holds true for projects as a whole. If you’ve been told, “Go build me this,” without being given any limitations, you can definitely build it according to your standard process, but what’s it going to look like? How long is it going to take? What’s it going to cost?
Using your tried and true process may be the best solution there, but is it the right one?
Finding the right solution
First of all, there’s not always one way to do UX design. I know what you’re thinking: “Al, there’s not one way to do a lot of things. This isn’t groundbreaking news.”
And you’re right but hear me out to see what I mean.
UX design is not just about the best solution—it’s about the right solution. There’s a huge, huge distinction between the two.
The best solution is one that accounts for every variable. This is your design process where you start with research, move on to wireframing, and test the heck out of everything. A to B to C.
The right solution is one that considers the limitations—or constraints—that may exist, using them to your advantage.
That’s the beauty of UX design. That’s when the creativity floodgates really start to open.
Consider the constraints a tool in your arsenal.
What are constraints?
They’re literally that: anything that introduces limitations on a design. If you ever think, “Oh man, we only have two weeks for this project? Gotta get it done!” or “Ah, our budget is only here,” then congratulations, you’ve run into constraints.
But, you can leverage these constraints and make them work for you rather than against you.
While the best solution may involve a fully fleshed-out design process, that could actually hurt your chances for success if your project doesn’t have the budget or time for it. I say this to people all the time, “Well if you did this optimally, you can do this, this, this, and this, and it’s going to be 800 hours of work.”
Is that the best solution? Maybe, but is it the right solution? No, because you’re going to go way past budget, your timeline’s going to be crazy, and you’re not going to actually get it done.
However, if you were agile in your design process and how you approach it, you can save time and come in under your budget.
What does being agile mean?
Well, in short, it means continuous collaboration rather than working in a vacuum and going from Step 1 to Step 2 to Step 3, etc.
Everyone works together throughout the process, refining and iterating along the way.
Instead of doing wireframes and high-fidelity mockups for every page before moving on, you can stick to just the core pages and build one template for the remaining pages. That frees up enough budget for you to do some usability testing on a rudimentary prototype so you can validate what you’re doing. Maybe even do it twice.
You can also provide QA support to the development team, so the project can keep moving forward. As a bonus, you also provide value to the user.
Being agile helps bridge the gap between the best solution and the right solution so you can deliver a working product within their timeframe and budget.
At the end of the day, what good is the best solution delivered months late and unaffordable?
Delivering the right solution
At CreateApe, one of the things we focus on is being agile because we know that our clients have constraints, and we’re all about our clients’ success. Having an agile process allows us to adapt to our client’s needs and meet our estimates.
It also helps us put out a better product.
I know, I know: being agile isn’t the easy way out. You have more to consider, thinking big picture instead of going by the book every time. But I promise you’ll deliver better results (or actual results) and it’ll lead to happier clients.
Nobody likes a project scope that gets out of hand due to unforeseen circumstances. There will always be challenges that you can’t account for, but if you’re agile, you can roll with the punches more easily than if you follow a rigid process.
Again, it’s not about the best solution. It’s about the right solution. At the end of the day, nobody has endless budgets or timelines, but what they do have are constraints.