Creating Digital Products & Services at The Guardian

BY Chris Massey ON APRIL 19, 2016

Nick Haley, Head of UX at Guardian News Media, joined us at ProductTank at the BBC to give us practical examples of how his team is becoming more agile and how digital products are iterated every day with real users, breaking his thoughts down into five core principles.

1 – Know Your Audience

The UX teams at the Guardian spend a lot of time thinking about flow and digital touchpoints, and this – by necessity – is a data-heavy process. Multi-platform journeys are now the norm (even down to smart watches), and so large amounts of data make it possible to map these journeys, and see not only when people are using services, but where, how, and (to a certain degree) why. Data also helps us start to see not only user journeys, but the life-cycle of digital content.

2 – Create a Vision

Having a Vision of what you want to create is important, but it’s crucial that you’re able to share that with others, in whatever format makes sense. Whether you create a poster, a film, or even a working prototype, having a means of communicating your vision helps align your team and helps you to start spotting challenges and issues. At the same time, you need to be able to validate your vision:

  • Can users actually use it
  • Do they want to use it
  • Can the developers build it?
  • Can your stakeholders support it? (is it going to be true to the brand, support the commercial team…?)

3 – Design in the Browser

One of the biggest changes at The Guardian in recent years is that they’ve moved away from building wireframes, and now build HTML prototypes directly in the browser. This allows the team to test with real content and real devices, and get more meaningful feedback. The leads on to principle number 4…

4 – Test Often, Make Decisions

With a new UX Lab and embedded user research, product teams can run quick, lightwegith tests and maintain a good flow in their work, shipping improvements to their product. At the same time, the dev teams are practicing Continuous Delivery.It allows you to continously learn from features – release it on Monday, and refine it into a fantastic state by Friday.

However, it’s easy to test – it is absolutely crucial that you also make hard decisions, and close down certain paths to focus on others.

5 – Respect the Craft

Everyone on your team will have a varied background – maybe a few of your UX specialists used to be developers, for example. Respecting each other’s crafts means that you have to acknowledge that your developers are the best people to do code reviews and deployments, or that your designers are the right people to make decisions about product UI and UX.

Don’t undermine each other – talk to your colleagues and have them contribute. Create a great team.

Chris Massey

About

Chris Massey

With his background in technical editing, community building and product marketing, Chris' approach to product management is inherently centred around user narratives. He spent the first few years of his career working with the B2B developer products, prototyped an experimental technical publishing platform along the way, and now makes the Inception noise whenever he talks about his work. His time at Mind the Product is split between being an editor, community leader, enthusiastic baker, and Product Manager. You can find him at ProductTank London, or on twitter as @camassey.

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