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The Impact of Inclusive Communication


Episode Summary

In this episode, host Mudassar Malik sits with Laura McCutchan, a seasoned UX design leader with experience in various web designer roles. Laura emphasizes the importance of effective communication within teams, sharing personal experiences on how it influences project outcomes. She speaks of the power of inclusive conversation and design thinking, shedding light on the significance of consultation and collaborative decision-making in UX/UI design.

Laura further discusses the necessity of striking a balance between feedback, negotiation, and execution in the development process. She underscores the critical role of early discovery and research, cautioning against compromising these for expediency, as it often leads to quality issues down the line.

Finally, Laura imparts her advice to fellow web and graphic designers: always ask “why.” She advocates for a problem-solving approach, focusing on serving the users rather than merely creating aesthetic designs. She stresses the importance of understanding the purpose behind every design requirement, making “why” an integral part of the design process.

Featured Guest

  • Name: Laura McCutchan
  • What she does: Director of Design at mobileLIVE
  • Company: mobileLIVE
  • Noteworthy: From a web designer in the early dot com boom, to now the Director of Design at mobileLIVE, Laura McCutchan boasts a progressive career of over 20 years in the field. She is a consummate creative, an advocate for effective communication and user-centred design, and a keen facilitator in elevating those around her.

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Key Insights

The Power of Effective Communication in UX Design. Laura McCutchan emphasizes the significance of effective communication in UX design. An essential part of the job involves not just relaying information but understanding the perspectives of various stakeholders, from developers to end-users. Laura’s experience illustrates that open lines of communication can lead to better solutions and smoother projects, while a lack of transparency can make work challenging and slow overall progress. She argues that communication fosters collaboration, ultimately leading to a better product.

Striking a Balance in Project Stages. In the world of UX design, timing is crucial. Mudassar Malik and Laura McCutchan discuss the importance of balancing feedback, negotiation, and knowing when to buckle down and execute. Spending adequate time on discovery and research before moving on to design and development can prevent potential compromises in quality later on. It’s all about striking the right balance for optimal project flow.

The Importance of User-Centric Approach. A major theme in this conversation is the user-centric approach in UX design. Laura firmly believes that designers should always ask “why” – a question that keeps the focus on users and the problem is solved. She argues that without understanding the users’ needs and problems, designs can end up serving the designer more than the user, leading to ineffective solutions. The “why” ensures designs are purposeful and user-focused.

Episode Highlights

The Role of Developers in UX Design

In this segment, Laura McCutchan sheds light on the importance of developers’ involvement in UX design. She shares her experience with clients and the varying levels of openness from the developers’ side. McCutchan emphasizes how a positive, inclusive attitude from developers can positively impact the project’s flow and overall quality. On the flip side, she discusses the challenges when developers are reluctant to share their knowledge.

“I’ve had environments where developers really own everything, and they weren’t very open with their knowledge. And I, as I was trying to learn the portal that I was working on, uh, they weren’t super open with their knowledge, and it made things very painful.”

Navigating Client Relationships

Laura McCutchan talks about her experiences dealing with difficult clients, particularly those who were resistant to change or constructive feedback. She underscores the importance of picking your battles in the realm of UX design, illustrating how every client relationship demands a unique approach.

“They didn’t wanna share knowledge. They were very like, this is the way it’s gonna be and we think this is right. And I’d be like, but ba, but, but, but this is not accessible. These colors don’t work.”

The Art of Asking “Why”

McCutchan articulates the significance of asking ‘why’ in the world of UX design. She believes this question helps designers stay focused on their mission to serve the users, underlining the need to understand the purpose behind every task.

“One of my favorite questions is why? And I think that should be the favorite question of all UX designers is you should always be asking why. Because if, if you’re being handed requirements or this request comes in, there should be an understanding of why are we doing this?”

The Importance of User Research

Laura advocates for the importance of comprehensive user research at the early stages of a project. She argues that skimping on this crucial step can lead to compromises in quality later in the project.

“So I, if you cut corners in, uh, in user research, that can, that really can lead to a lot of compromises in the quality as you, uh, as you move forward in the, in the project or the product.”

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