Product Discovery

Product Discovery

Nov 16, 2023

Treat Developers as UX Partners



Ronny Roeller

Development has come a long way. With agile frameworks like Scrum, the speed and efficiency at which products are built have increased tremendously. We've optimized our processes, reduced overheads, and accelerated the cycle from ideation to production. But, while we have become proficient in how to build, we often miss the mark on what to build.

The All-Nighter for a Feature No One Uses

Ask any developer, and they'll regale you with tales of all-nighters, countless coffee cups, and the adrenaline rush of getting that feature ready for deployment. But what happens when that feature, built with sweat and love, is met with... indifference? Or even worse, annoyance?

It's not just a blow to our ego, but a significant waste of resources, time, and opportunity.

The Gap: UX Discovery and Development Execution

At the heart of this issue is the disconnect between UX researchers and developers. The common practice is for researchers to dive deep into user needs, behaviors, and preferences. They then present a polished, final report, filled with insights and recommendations. Developers, on the other hand, are handed these reports and simply told, "Make this happen."

But here's the catch: development isn’t just about execution. It's about ideation, strategy, and innovation.

The Cost of Lost Collaboration

By keeping developers out of the discovery phase, we're missing out on:

  1. Technological Insight: Developers can highlight easier and more cost-effective solutions early on.

  2. User-centric Design: Developers have a unique perspective on usability, often seeing things through a practical lens.

  3. Synergy: Combining the technical with the experiential can result in features and products that aren't just functional but delightful.

Rather than sharing only the finalized report, why not also share video snippets of user feedback sessions? Let developers watch a user struggling with a feature or gushing about a specific function they love. This raw, unfiltered feedback isn't just enlightening; it's deeply motivational. It drives the point home, reinforcing the 'why' behind the 'what' and 'how'.

When developers are involved from the start:

  • Ideas are grounded: Not just in user need, but also in feasibility and scalability.

  • Feedback loops are tighter: Adjustments can be made in real-time, not post-factum.

  • Innovation thrives: Two heads (or more) are indeed better than one.

Bridging the UX-Dev Divide

It's time we shifted the narrative. Developers are not just builders; they're creators, strategists, and innovators. UX researchers, take us seriously. Share with us your thinking, your insights, and your raw data. Let’s work together, as equal partners, to build solutions that not only meet user needs but do so efficiently and effectively.

Let's move from simply creating outputs to achieving meaningful outcomes. Together.

PS: You can try out our take on bringing developer into UX research - for free: