Defining project success for a software design consultancy has various dimensions. As a team and organization, it’s important to have both shared and individual definitions of what success means. Let’s look past meeting deadlines and delivering functioning software. Instead, let’s take a closer look at ways to ensure your time on a project has meaning.
Learn about a new industry.
As design consultants, we often take on projects in industries in which we have little or no experience. An easy success here is understanding the industry enough to help a client become more profitable. Learning about the structure of different organizations, as well as industry-specific laws and best practices, is a more nuanced version of success. As we expand our knowledge, we can pull from previous project experiences and apply similar patterns to new industries. It is also really cool to have your hands in and help influence good design in areas where design may have been overlooked.
Work in a new form factor.
I don’t know about everyone, but working on responsive web app dashboards can feel a little repetitive (even if they are highly nuanced and custom). But the opportunity to work in a new physical form factor can be a sign of project success (or at least a delight). IoT devices, PC or mobile games, and other infotainment systems are often highly customized products with unique design requirements. They can often be challenging, even frustrating. However, working in an area where you have little UI/UX experience can help to grow your skillset as a designer.
Influence ethical practices.
There are some times in a designer’s career when they have a project (or feature of a project) that feels a little shady. Being able to stand up, advocate, and be a voice that pushes back against unethical practices can feel incredibly rewarding. And, to be fair, not every unethical product decision is intentionally malicious. But, as designers, we advocate for users first. Address things like “Dark Patterns” that stakeholders think are a great idea. This an area where you can stand up and do what is right.
Gather feedback and make continuous improvement.
Working on projects that force us to grow as designers is incredibly important. Gathering feedback from users through testing, or from stakeholders about misalignment on requirements, or even pushing back as a development team on alternative ways to design a feature — these are all great opportunities to grow in our careers. And, anytime we have opportunities to grow, that is successful.
What are some unconventional ways you look at whether a project was successful?