At that point in my story, all that I knew—and all I really cared about—was that I, as the customer, was being inconvenienced; one contractor or the other would have to spend more time fixing the problem; and fixing the issue would cost me more money than I’d planned to spend. It would have been so much simpler and more cost effective if it had just been done right the first time.
So, what does this have to do with UX consulting? Quite a lot actually. It all comes down to effective planning, which is something that differentiates a truly successful UX consultant from one who is merely busy—constantly putting out fires.
Planning for Success
Almost every day, I notice parallels between my interactions with people in my personal life and my interactions as a professional UX consultant. There are useful lessons to be learned from these daily interactions. The basic interactions that we have with people are similar across all aspects of our lives. I am no more inclined to give work to a contractor who does not meet my expectations when working on my house than I am to give work to UX consultants who are unable to do what I ask of them. When I look at the reasons for not hiring a person, more often than not, they are the same—whether I’m hiring someone to install a hardwood floor or create a stellar user experience for enterprise software.
IBM did a famous study whose findings still hold true today. The gist of it goes like this: $1 spent in planning, saves $10 when doing development, and saves $100 over what it would cost to do the same work during maintenance. This formula breaks things down simply, but it is applicable not only to software design and development, but to almost everything in life. Plan properly and doing something is cheap and simple. Don’t plan to try to fix a problem later on, after everything is done, when fixing it would be expensive and complex.
Anyone may seek the cheap-and-easy fix at some point. Sometimes doing so even makes sense. Day to day, we never have just one problem to solve. We’re confronted with multiple issues that clamor for our attention. We sometimes make snap decisions about things that really require us to slow down, think, and plan out what is necessary—not only tactically, but strategically as well.