Salesforce User Experience (UX) Design Process for Small Teams
More and more companies are discovering and harnessing the power of well-designed technology user experiences.
As usual, Salesforce has been at the forefront of user experience design best practices with resources dedicated to Trailhead modules, Design Guidelines, and soon even a Salesforce User Experience Certification!
With so much to consider when designing user experiences for Salesforce orgs with thousands of users, it’s no wonder internal user experience (UX) teams can contain myriad roles:
But for UX designers who don’t work at giant enterprises, the weight of all tasks related to UX design resting on your shoulders can seem daunting.
Maybe you’re new to the task of user experience design, but it’s not your primary role. Or, maybe you manage a small team and don’t have the resources to hire a trained army.
I’m here to share proven methods for creating a comprehensive UX design process that small, agile teams can put into practice immediately.
Salesforce UX Design Best Practices
Before diving into the details of creating a comprehensive user experience design process for your small UX team, here are a few Salesforce UX design best practices to keep in mind.
Trust the Process
The first thing to realize is that any time an end user is working within a system, you must design the experience.
No project is too small. If you need proof, think about that one water bottle that always leaks, or the Tupperware with the lid you have trouble closing.
Seeking Stakeholder Approval for UX Design Mockups
Seasoned designers know how to handle rejection. However, it’s critical to remember that a rejected design is still a win. That’s one step closer to the solution; a small setback now means you’ve avoided a huge one later.
That being said, remember to stay agile, but avoid infinite cycles of revisions. The good rule of thumb is to limit stakeholder revisions to two rounds for mockups. After that, it’s time to push forward since revisions can always be made during prototyping.
The last bit of advice is don’t be too attached to your designs. Remove your own opinions or bias and be an advocate for the user.
For example, if research shows that users find icons confusing, then get rid of them. Maybe you put a lot of effort into designing them, but in the end, the users are the ones who have to experience the system.
Speak the Same Language
Assumptions are the great enemy of UX Design.
Keep a list of definitions and make them available to the team. For example, when I say wireframe, what comes to mind?
As you can see in the example, your idea of a mockup may be different than someone else's.
Always set clear expectations. Sometimes it may seem obvious, but it doesn’t hurt to explain “This is only a mockup, so the content is not final.”
Contrariwise, don’t be afraid to ask questions during discovery. Even seemingly obvious questions can get people to think and draw out more complex requirements.
During discovery, document everything. Did I mention not to assume anything? If it isn’t in the design documents then it doesn’t exist.
A good practice is to do a brain dump with the core team after a meeting and while it’s fresh to ask “What did we all hear?” For organizational purposes, compile all notes in a single document all team members can access. This way, notes can easily be converted to user stories later.
Example of a User Experience Design Process for a Small Team
With the aforementioned UX design best practices in mind, you can start to develop a comprehensive user experience design process for your small team. The process should begin by opening lines of communication with stakeholders by asking questions to kickstart the UX design process.
Some questions to ask stakeholders are:
Have you identified the problem that needs to be solved?
What are the pain points?
What does success look like? - This is a great one to write down and evaluate for yourself later.
Are we starting from the beginning or is there existing technology in use today?
When solving the problem, empathize with the user, but remember to consider the return on investment (ROI). Good UX design will satisfy user acceptance criteria as well as business requirements.
Gather User Experience (UX) Requirements During Discovery Phase
Before trying to solve the problem, make sure you have completed sufficient discovery tasks through a variety of research methods.
User research is a gold mine when it comes to UX design. Make sure you collect any data from users who already exist. Conduct interviews with users through virtual meeting tools (remember to get explicit consent from users before recording user research meetings), and whenever possible, let users demonstrate the existing system for you.
It’s critical to let users demo the existing system for you without interruption. You won’t always be there to give certain actions context, so you want to observe a user interaction as naturally as possible.
During interviews, make sure to ask what works, what doesn’t work, and what they think would improve the experience for them. Even if they can’t articulate it, knowing the thought process is valuable information.
How does the company portray itself? Incorporate company branding into the solution as much as possible.
Try to get your hands on the company brand style guide. Aside from colors and fonts, branding reflects the company’s identity to differentiate it within the marketplace.
Is the company brand bold and straightforward, or fun and colorful? If you can’t obtain branding guidelines, look at the corporate website. What message is this website trying to send?
You may need to complete technical research to learn more about the existing technology. This can help set the stage for the user stories as well as provide inspiration.
Work closely with the Architect or Lead Developer to ensure you are not proposing anything that is not technologically possible. That being said don’t be afraid to show “what it could be.”
Don’t design in a vacuum. Instead, do some competitive research. Did this problem exist before? How did others solve similar challenges?
Through competitive research, you can learn how others have solved similar user experience design problems. That’s not to say you should replicate another solution, but rather you can improve upon previous designs.
Create User Stories and Personas to Guide User Experience Design
The next step is to compile all user acceptance criteria into user stories. It’s important to capture all the notes, comments, and requests you gathered in the previous steps into user stories.
Although time consuming, user stories have several benefits. First off, user stories will ease the process of aligning stakeholders on which features should be part of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Secondly, user stories serve as good record keeping for future versions, which means good ideas that aren’t included in the MVP don’t get lost.
Here’s some tips for writing good user stories:
Consider the ROI for the end result.
Avoid adding the solution into the user story.
Salesforce User Story Examples
Good User Story
As an end user, I need a way to know my schedule for the day so that I can be on time and avoid interruptions to focused work.
Bad User Story
As an end user, I need a calendar component on the home page so that I can see my schedule on the home page.
One of the problems with the bad user story is that it assumes the solution is a calendar component. Perhaps it is, but that shouldn’t be boxed in before the designing has started. It also doesn’t provide the end business requirement, but rather restates the need as the goal.
Create User Personas
Okay, one last item to check off before we put pen to paper — whether physically or digitally.
What about user personas? Many times user personas may seem unnecessary, which is especially true for smaller projects with only one user type. However, creating user personas is an essential part of the Salesforce UX design process.
The fact is, it’s impossible to design a user experience properly if you don’t know who you’re designing it for. At the very least, go through the exercise of listing all the different user types for the Salesforce instance you’re working on. This way, you’ll have the user personas in mind while writing user stories. Then a determination can be made about how in-depth the descriptions need to be.
Creating User Experience (UX) Design Mockups
There is certainly no shortage of existing tools out there when it comes to visual design. The Salesforce Component Reference even provides a playground you can use to create prototypes in the cloud without installing anything.
Note: Starting March 2021, Salesforce will retire its playground in lieu of webcomponents.dev.
Remember the old adage, ‘A poor workman blames his tools.’ Start with pen and paper if it feels right — there’s no shame in it.
If you’re struggling, spend time being creative. Sketch, doodle, or surf the web for cool UX design stuff. It’s easier to be creative when you’re in the right frame of mind. I know my best designs don’t come at 9 a.m.! ☕
Remember to Focus on End Users with Your Design
Consider your audience while creating mockups. How much polish should you use? Will color help sell the design or just distract? Does it make sense to diagram the user flow first?
Ask yourself these questions, and when in doubt, start rough and add polish as needed.
Get Approvals and Follow Up with the Team
It’s important not to walk away at this point. A lot of research and thought went into your user experience design mockups.
Once you’ve submitted your mockups and made any requested edits (while sticking to only two rounds of changes), follow up to ensure your design is being built to your specifications — even if you’re not assigned to the project any more. You may need to get intrapreneurial in this regard.
Keep Records to Track Your Time
My last tip for building a comprehensive user experience design process for a small team is to keep your own time logs. Design work is difficult to estimate because it involves things like brainstorming and trial and error, which can require a wide range of time to complete.
Don’t wait for project managers to crunch the numbers of past projects to find out how long it takes. Instead, keep your own notes to detail how much time you spent on each stage of the user experience design process.
Salesforce UX Design Resources
Webinar Replay - Salesforce User Experience Customizations: Best Practices and Quick Wins
Webinar Replay - How to Design Intuitive Salesforce Interfaces to Improve ROI
Blog - 3 Salesforce Customization Examples that Enhance User Experiences
Blog - Salesforce User Experience (UX) Design: An Introductory Guide
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