It was the Monday the young UI designer had been prepping for. Ravi walked into the conference room with a laptop in one hand and his mobile phone in the other. He had a transparent plastic folder loaded with papers tucked under his arm. He was accompanied by other colleagues and walked in with a confident smile.
The conference room was filled with thirty distinguished stakeholders representing various teams – product engineering, finance, marketing, customer success, and the directors.
The attendees had been discussing the development and marketing of the revamped mobile app. It was time to review the new UI of this reinvigorated mobile app.
Mike, the head of strategic design introduced the team working on the piece. Ravi had this ‘get noticed’ opportunity to present in front of Sara, the founder, and CEO of the company. Ravi had six years of experience as a UX designer, he was committed to the project from the word go and his line manager thought it best that Ravi drives the presentation.
As one could see through the glass walls of the conference, the audience was immersed into the presentation, questions were asked, there were conversations on the side, but all seemed relevant to the purpose. The team walked out of the conference room an hour and a half later with a sense of victory. They got the green signal on the UI designs. Mike stayed back with the larger group while the rest of the design team marched back to their workstations.
The victors regrouped at the end of the day for a retrospective pit party in the office. Mike had some observations on the occurrences of the day; so that they could get better at this.
Here’s what went right with the presentation. Some guidelines to a successful pitch –
Set the expectations
State clearly the purpose of the task and what the presenters aim to achieve in the stipulated time that has been allotted to them. The current business and user pain points should be highlighted. Call to attention the problems with the existing UIs. It sets the right context for the presentation.
References & Prototypes
References work where you’re able to provide a fix to a similar problem. If someone has successfully done so, then it is only prudent to use it as a point of reference. E.g., if you think the check-out journey can be shortened because brand X is already doing so, there is no harm in following the same process. Some of these journeys can be adopted by brands in other categories.
Prototypes are essential to provide a tangible outcome of your effort. Rapid prototyping platforms such as Marvel and InVision provide a collaborative system to display and review designs. Equipped with the ability to import files from creative software, and integrate with third-party workflow applications, prototyping platforms are used at various stages of the product development process.
Presentations through these mockup tools allow users to view and experience the designed journeys, providing a real-like experience. For an audience, mirror cast your phone to a large screen for an inclusive vibe to the demonstration. There are various ways to do so – with Airplay, Projection Apps, Chromecast, etc.
This is what I call the powerplay situation in cricket, when a batsman can take advantage of the fielding restriction. It’s the moment when you have the freedom to demonstrate your prowess. This is all about design. This one’s right up the alley. You’re the expert and the audience are all ears. The mood board is a visual expression of your design process and amalgamates images, snippets, animated texts, Gifs to form a vibrant and artistic concoction. Cut a video if you have to. It’s an effort, but it creates the impression you’re seeking. If time and money are a constraint, a slide show should suffice.
There are tools that help you create mood boards, namely Milanote and Adobe Spark.
The UX testbed
I can’t say this enough but always test your UI designs before you present them to a client.
Heat maps are an easy way to understand user behavior and to determine whether the information goals are met in your recommended design. Engage with a minimum of 5 individuals who fit the personas and conduct a Heat map test. Heat maps record user interactions that include mouse movements, clicks, scrolls, U-turns, and rage clicks.
Various Heat map tools that you could evaluate are hotjar and Microsoft’s Clarity. There are other similar tools out there, and best suited to the purpose and device. For a new user, I suggest you explore the free plan on hotjar to get acquainted with a Heat map online software. Here’s a useful link to understand the way it works – hotjar.com
The test insights carry an authenticity to your process. Add these insights to your presentation.
Assign a representative to capture feedback from the audience. Summarize the observations and actions at the end of the presentation. Highlight what has been approved and what requires further deliberation. Explicate the next steps to be taken on the UX journeys. Pre-empt questions from the audience and have your answers ready.
Presenting to an audience is a skill, and great presenters have one thing (among many others) in common. They’re always prepared. A dry run helps you to pace your pitch, program your delivery and give you control over the proceedings of the event. The language is not important, the content is. Articulate your thoughts in a language that you are comfortable with. You will have to time yourself because with senior executives present in the audience, there is always a paucity of time.
A 60-minute high-level presentation can be broken down to –
- 5 min. for team member introductions
- 20 min. on elucidating on the task, problem statements, addressing challenges, and setting the design expectations
- 10 min. on the design inspirations, approach, and mood board
- 20 min. on the UIs of the unique journeys
- 5 min. on the way forward or next steps to the task