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Are you on a project where there isn’t quite enough time to really get the job done? Or maybe there’s NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH! We’ve all been there. Check out our 5 Ways to Get More Time for UX.

But if it’s a little late for that, here are 4 ideas for working more efficiently with what you have.

 1. Cut Scope

Designers are usually on the adding scope side of the scales of justice, so this can be a counter-intuitive skill for us to develop. But let’s say someone is asking you to design something huge—or for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re building a bridge across a canyon. Is there a way you can still achieve the project’s goals, but build a little less than what they’re asking? Could it just be a rope bridge, rather than a steel one? Could we just draw out the bridge and show that to stakeholders and users first? Could you build the first half of the bridge well, and start the second half when that’s complete?

Even in this example you can see how this sometimes may work, and sometimes not. But what do you have to loose? ;-] The key is keeping the business and project objective in mind, and down-sizing the work to something you can achieve in the time available. People are still going to try to get you to work magic sometimes, but you may find a compromise.

2. Experiment

Are there other ways of working you haven’t tried yet? New processes that might be more efficient and yield even better results? Are you familiar with Lean UX? Agile design? Maybe trying a new process would make the annoyance of not having enough time a little more entertaining.

You may already be using these techniques, and even if you’re not, there’s almost certainly nothing wrong with your process. When I hear designers tell me their process, I have rarely thought, I wouldn’t waste time with that. It’s much more like, wow, you really ought to be doing this or this, how do you know you’re not totally wrong? It’s worth introspecting, but there is probably nothing wrong with your process. More likely, your organization isn’t doing a great job of supporting design at that specific moment.

3. Consider the bigger picture

While you might not have enough time on this project, is there some small win you can score for your team’s design practice on the course of the project? Is there something you can learn? Maybe everything goes to hell in a handbasket, but you finally got a week of user testing in. Now the devs can watch videos of users they never saw before. Or you always wanted to try skipping a specification drawing and just making a javascript prototype, but were too afraid it wouldn’t work as well as your tried and true techniques.  If you’re already hours-screwed, what have you got to lose now?  Wheeeeee!

4. Embrace (and argue for) Iteration

It’s easier to stomach doing something part-way if you know you’ll come back to it. And if you get to show it to users in between–you might actually come up with a second iteration that’s way better than what your first would have been.  We’ll never know, but I’d bet you a cheeseburger on it.

Arguing for future iterations can be another way of being a team player, but also voicing that this project was a problem and not okay with you. Best case, you get to come back and fix your rash mistakes. Worst case, at least someone might hear more clearly that they planned and budgeted this project totally wrong.

It also gives everyone a positive outlet for frustrations they see in the UX as they inevitably begin to emerge. Instead of just wanting to burn the building to the ground, you can start planning the next release. Look at you, all sunshine and rainbows. No, but seriously, it pays to stay professional and positive, no matter how much you want to flip a table. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Let’s shoot for more this:

You are so going to school them.

Less this:

Furious Pony

Furious Pony


Although trust me. We’ve all been there. And some of us are with you there, right now.


What other tips and techniques do you use to do the impossible and work magic when you’re under the gun? Let us know in the comments!

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