Essentials to Kick-Start your Design / UX Project

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Projects fail because there is no design project management included. Oftentimes, UX or Design will be integrated to be part of a project at a stage, where it’ practically already too late. We ought to not only talk about UI Design, but also talk about Stakeholder Mapping, ask for the right problems, define the best road plan, include research, development and design. To be frank: We are seeing massive challenges in projects with project managers that lack the know-how of design processes.


Use such a Strategy Plan to start your project!


To help solve this issue and provide support, we developed the UX & Design Strategy plan, comprising what a project manager should know before starting a project. These questions need to be answered first by all means.


1.) What’s the project?

Do you need Design Management in all projects? Service Design, Hardware Design, Software Design, Marketing, eCommerce… So as you see Design & UX has a considerable cross-sectional function. Indeed, you will need it in 80% of your projects. Do you have a Design Manager or a UX manager in 80% of your projects?


2.) Project Manager

That’s normally an easy question. What’s the name of your UX or Design Manager? Who is RESPONSIBLE for it? This person must know all about different design processes, must estimate the effort and must design the method an appropriate UX strategy.


3.) UX Support

Can you manage the entire effort with internal man power or do you need also external manpower? If you have no in-house UX expert, it makes sense to work with external expertise. They work in different projects and will usually be able to assist with a vast amount of experience.


I am a track and field athlete. So to illustrate what I mean, let me draw this quick comparison:

I am convinced you are an expert. Let’s assume you’re actually one of the best project managers out there. So, in my comparison you are a decathlon world champion. You can throw a javelin 70 meters. But a world champion trained in a single discipline, the actual world champion in javelin, can achieve distances 20-40% longer than you, because he is the expert in this discipline. You are a champ, but for design and UX, ask the champ in their discipline. Rely on the expertise of others and thereby build your own success.


4.) Importance of Design & UX:

What’s the importance of Design and UX? Is it an end customer process or product? Do you want to sell the product? Is it an internal service for a huge amount of people or only for fewer people? Do you develop a backend product? Depending on your strategy you must decide how important Design and UX is for your project.

Usually you will already know this, or it may actually depend on a few factors. But this Design Strategy paper is for the commitment of the whole project.


5.) Value of Design

What’s the value of design for the customer in this specific project? Is it high or not? Could it be your USP for the whole project?


6.) Product Vision

Without a project vision, you will end up on the wrong road. You must include all strategies and future functionalities in your designs. Of course we will start small and develop it for the next 10 years. But you have to think about your vision, so you don’t have to start fully redesigning after 2 years, because you didn’t think of all aspects.

It’s also important for your whole team communication. It’s much easier if your team knows what the project vision and what the target will be. The motivation is much higher, than if you keep everyone guessing about exactly it is they are developing and what the scope might be.


7.) Project objectives

What are your project objectives in detail? This will be also the key performance indicators to watch out for. For example:

  • With this project we will increase the click rate to more than 15% in the coming 2 years.
  • We will increase the net profit to 500.000 in 5 years.



8.) Stakeholder Map

The stakeholder map is one of the most important tools at the beginning of a project. You will define all actual user groups and people who will be directly or indirectly part of the project. From people who will use your system or not use the system. And those who can influence your project, as well as those who can’t.

After your first stakeholder map, you have to decide which people are important for your project and define a stakeholder activity map. For example, let’s assume you want to start a project, but your team doesn’t know how to work together in a creative process with designers. Thus, you have to motivate them with different steps, or include them in other projects to ensure that they are willing to work with you on this project in harmony, not in war.

–> Download a UXTB_Stakeholder_map


9.) Super Persona and Personas

Out of the stakeholder map you will define who will be the Super Persona, the leading target group and who will be your personas. This should be decided together with your time and should support the vision you have shared earlier. This tool is also for your team communication and to evaluate every stage at your project if you are going into the right direction.

It’s also important to define your non-personas. So you know for whom you are not developing. Maybe this might be your superior, who might have very specific ideas of how to do it, or a specific target group.


10.) Timeline, KPI’s and Exit Points

Of course, you must know your timeline,  or define the timeline for your project. Define the internal and external KPI’s to measure your services, processes and your project. And in the worst case you have to define your exit points. This would be the point, where you stop the project and acknowledge that the project has failed.

This is important, otherwise you will work on the project for years and you know that you will lose a lot of money, and never will succeed, because your project is dead.

Please keep in mind: At some point there is just no point of return, no matter how long you will try to resuscitate!


11.) Methods

Regarding to your timeline and KPI’s, which methods make sense? How often can you iterate and how often can you plan user studies? Is it more a straight forward or a really open project? Do you have enough money and manpower?


12.) UX / Design ritual

Define a UX ritual like a weekly meeting, a UX review of your Research Guerilla wall a daily standup like in scrum or something creative. You have to emphasize the importance of your designs. A ritual is really important for humans to stay in a motivated stage, to hear something new and it’s a great opportunity to discuss all failures or new ideas in your project.


If you know all the START Key facts you can start your project.

I wish you much success in your coming projects!


Hannes Robier

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