Virtual Design Wall: UX for the Product Team

What is a Virtual  Design Wall?

processflowA virtual design wall is basically a UX intranet site where your product/project team can view all the UX deliverables. It can be as simple or complex as needed by the product owner and stakeholders.

My virtual design wall process evolved over four years. When I started working on the American Airline’s self-service kiosk (as a UX team of one), I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with the sheer volume of requests from my immediate and extended product team. The only reasonable way to deal with it was to make all my deliverables available on a UX intranet. It works so well that I’ve included that in my process since.

What to Include on Your Virtual Design Wall

  • Wireframes: Annotated Production Screenshots
  • Use Case Flows
  • End-to-end Screen Flows
  • Project-level Mockups (not in production yet)
  • Prototypes or links to Dev/QA environments
  • Links to business and/or development documentation
  • For an Agile team: links to the user stories

I’ll break some of these down further in my next post.

Pros and Cons

  • Pro: Any one on the team can view the deliverables any time of the day or night without disturbing you. This works very well with distributed teams and provides a transparency that builds trust in the UX process.
  • Pro: Once the production-level deliverables are vetted by the team, there’s no argument about what the product does today. Now we can have better arguments about what the product should do tomorrow!
  • Pro: After four years on the American Airlines self-service kiosk application, my virtual design wall was the defacto resource for how the application worked. They used it to train field agents.
  • Con: If you build it and they come, then you’ll have to maintain it. It’s not too bad as long as you can do a little everyday. Get behind and you’re in trouble! Or, in my case, have a complete product overhaul and you have to redo all the annotated screenshots.

I call the virtual design wall “UX for the team” because it helps to create that frictionless experience were all the information the team needs is easily accessible and consumable.  If we can create a better user experience for our customers, why not make creating that product a better experience for the people we work with everyday.

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