Besides having a really good time meeting lots of people who are overwhelmingly talented, I try to drive the process of user research together with the designer-squad Bruce, Niels and Hanna. But I also try to catch a glimpse of the code (aka back-end boys Thibault, Angrymoustache and Jasper + front-end Batteman and Huseyin) although I can’t write or read anything that has to do with CODE, they’re kind enough to translate it for the 5 year old being I am (which I really appreciate!!).
Since there are multiple ways to elaborate our two Cultuurconnect projects, I think (or we all think) our aim is to put something good out there. But how to decide what’s good enough? To me this seems like a difficult question, just because I think there is no simple system you can use to decide this. That’s why I want to try and explain the difficulties of this process in my own way by using an analogy.
Let’s say you want to cook dinner. Try to focus on the “let’s say” because in my world, there is hardly any cooking. So let’s say you want to cook dinner and oh, it isn’t dinner without some French fries, am I right?
The first thing, or first step is to cut some potatoes. This sounds very easy, like “okay this I can do without encountering any problems”. But don’t be fooled. If you slice the potato into uneven pieces, this is going to ruin your dish and make it inedible because some fries will be raw and others will be overcooked.
Deciding on the must-have features and nice to have features for the project was hard, I mean very hard. There was a very tiring discussion and I realised back-end and front-end boys were right. The check-in and places feature have more priority than rating. But still, this discussion to me was an eye-opener. When talking about dividing the different features it’s important to focus on what is needed and possible. Therefore we should indeed forget about the less important features. But these decisions are substantial and hard to make because for a non-coder girl like me I just want every possible feature in there.
— Bruce Vansteenwinkel (@Bruce_ViD) 7 juli 2016
— Video about the discussion we had on the features (@Bruce_ViD) 7 juli 2016
Now let’s think about time-management. Four weeks to finish our products is not a lot of time. Especially when you spend too much time making them “perfect”. Perfect as in making the potatoes all exactly the same size, shape and weight. Maybe you could even cut them in the shape of your favorite emoji or whatever. But the more time you spend on this, the less you have for cooking the rest of your meal. And the end result of the potatoes may not be noticeable to the person eating the meal, your guests won’t necessarily enjoy their meal more because you put more time into it.
And then, you don’t even know what perfect means. Does it mean that your fries are a little bit soft on the inside but with a crispy overlay? Perfect means something different to every single one of your guests. For example I like mine more when they’re also crispy on the inside. But on the other hand there are people that like the tall and very soft McDo fries more. It all depends on the person who is going to be eating the potatoes, to make it even more complicated. Perfect means you’ve taken into account and involved your stakeholders, your users-to-be, your competitors and many more from the beginning of the project.
And still then, it is hard to predict people’s actions, like we learnt at University “what people say, is not what people do”. You have to wait till the guests eat your meal, and then make further decisions about what you want to try next time. Maybe the meal needs twice as many potatoes? Maybe sweet potatoes would have been better? Maybe there was something wrong with the spices? Maybe you served it too early and nobody was hungry? Maybe someone can’t eat fries and you didn’t take that into account? Maybe everything was just wrong. And I bet you didn’t see that coming, or did you?
After you’ve served the meal and got feedback on what your guests liked or hated (maybe even by just looking at the leftovers) you will have a much better idea of how to improve stuff, or how to make it better. Getting feedback from your guests or users in the #oSoc16 experience is sooooo important. Do some research by just getting to know your users-in-spe and let them try the stuff you’re building. It’s important not to ask questions like “did you like the fries?”, I guess almost everyone would just say yes (just for being polite or maybe you even told them how much time or effort it took to make them). The best thing is just to look at their plates and see how you did your job.
By the way: You also forgot to make your dessert, just take note, we spend too much time obsessing over the damn potatoes.
To conclude, what I tried to make clear here is that there’s nothing wrong with aiming for ‘good enough’, especially because these two projects are the first versions. It means we’re getting something out there that is good enough to get feedback on and that can be improved over time.
Side note: It could be that nobody cares about those potatoes but you. Looks like I’m ordering spaghetti tonight!