UX designers don’t work alone; they need the support of their engineering or business counterparts. Here are some tips on how to smoothly navigate collaboration and get buy-in on your ideas!
What is “Buy-in”?
If you Google “buy-in” you’ll most likely find that it’s a trading term, referring to the purchase of a controlling number of a company’s shares.
But that’s not what this article is about. We’re talking about people “buying into” an idea or concept. If a team member or stakeholder has “bought in”, then they agree with and accept your suggestions.
But how do we get buy-in?
1. Include Stakeholders in Early in the Process
Including the major stakeholders into your design process early on sets the expectation that they are equal team members rather than gatekeepers. They may also bring a unique perspective to the constraints and edge cases that designers need to incorporate.
Don’t neglect including partners early on in your product journey, as this is an excellent opportunity to educate them on the design process.
2. Speak to Tangible Ideas
One advantage designers have is the ability to quickly make lo-fidelity mock-ups. A well-known adage is that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This holds true for conversations where a team is in disagreement.
Sketch out your ideas quickly rather than spending endless hours discussing them with hand-waving. Something tangible is easier to have conversations over and eventually test than words alone. Don’t spend time polishing your designs early on in the process when you should be exploring and iterating quickly.
3. Have Empathy for Trade-offs
When engaging your engineers, consider what implications your design options have for their time and resource investment. If what you are proposing is beyond the time they have to deliver, they will likely push back on your designs. Having a general sense of what takes more or less engineering efforts will allow you to speak to what is a priority in their minds.
Note: This doesn’t mean to always cater to what is easiest to build–rather knowing what key experiences are worth the time investment as there are trade-offs to be made if resources are scarce.
4. Convince With Data
When you aren’t able to convince your team of something you strongly believe is the right direction, bring data with customer evidence to support your point.
Re-framing your point of view in terms of real users or business success is a value that most would prioritize above subjective opinions.
5. Focus on the Problem
When working in a team with many different personalities, it is easy to get caught up in the team dynamic and politics that distract from the project’s progress. Instead, focus back on the problem at hand. As a UX designer, your purpose is to bring a human-centered point of view to every problem you encounter.
Make your ideas more tangible and test them with real users early and often. Then you can get feedback to iterate again–equipped with more knowledge, even with complex problems, information directs you toward making better design decisions that (hopefully) everyone can agree on.