iDevie
August 2020
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I personally believe that asking a lot of “Whys” during the initial stages of your project helps not only the designers but also the other contributors to the project. Diving deep into the problem and starting off without a solution is what designers do best. While your Product manager and other stakeholders may have many solutions in mind, but unearthing the problem completely from the beginning will direct everyone towards thinking in terms of users, towards knitting stories that solve their problems.

Here goes a group of people opening up there arms in a imaginary dramatic scene of asking Why to a greater power in the sky

Here goes a group of people opening up there arms in a imaginary dramatic scene of asking Why to a greater power in the sky

People using Whys for a higher reason. Credits to Unsplash

Unveiling the Whys throughout your process will empower everyone to learn deeply about their users.

Involving everyone will help everyone

Brainstorming sessions across product, engineering, and design team at the start of a project always helps in defining a proper roadmap, in increasing efficiency and reducing contradictions along the way. I believe, the most important thing is to brainstorm the problem: the build-up, the causes, and the effects.

Understanding the Why of the problem helps everyone involved to lie on the same page while setting a common ground of goals for the project. But in many cases, the problem setting part is handled by the product manager, creating a chain process of product development.

“Having an inclusive process with all stakeholders from the initial phase benefits because — whether we like it or not, everyone outside your design team is making some design decisions”

Everyone is a designer. Get over it. by Daniel Burka

The point is, you should always ask Why whenever you get a chance, even if the path is super clear. Your Product Manager may have a strong problem statement and may even provide proper wireframes, but don’t forget to ask Why. Start with —

  • Why does the problem exist?
  • Why is this a problem for the user? Wait… Is it?
  • Why do businesses care about this problem?
  • Why is this problem important than the other problems(projects)?
  • Why are we doing this?
A section of a marker board with Red & yellow Sticky notes/Post-aids reflecting a brainstorming session

A section of a marker board with Red & yellow Sticky notes/Post-aids reflecting a brainstorming session

This general why round will give enough clarity to all stakeholders involved, about the purpose of the project.

Having a common purpose helps all teams to align on the same path. The string of whys should stretch throughout a designer’s work cycle and must become an integral part of every design decision you take, as it will answer the reasoning behind every pixel movement of your design. These reasons will finally help in rationalizing the designs with other stakeholders.

Whys will make you dig into data

Product managers know their users very well — with their market expertise and numbers. They float on data and make or break things depending on it. This alone is a big reason for designers running after their PMs. We need data and your PM can help in all ways. A valuable PM will always be excited to know more about their users. They will become your best buddy on conducting User Research exercises and will help you in all possible ways: to learn more about the users, together.

People watching a stick movie through a hole that make it seems like they are digging for something deep

People watching a stick movie through a hole that make it seems like they are digging for something deep

People putting effort to dig into something. Credits to Unsplash

Dig into the quantitative data that your PM will have at his disposal, or plan to collect with him. Ask for research and more data, push for conducting short user interviews or simply doing A/B test on confused pieces.

The answers and the data you pulled out with the Whys will generate one true purpose and will help you resonate with your PM more. Keep challenging each other to find the Whys. Seek for more knowledge about the user, their behaviors, their goals, their needs (your list should never end); and the clarity of the story will be the fuel for the team to think together.

Remember, good questions empower everyone involved.


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