Thursday, April 30, 2009

Using Web Software for Collaborative Work on Virtual UX Teams

Co-located team leads to better collaboration ...

"As a UX professional, whether you work for yourself, a small shop, or a large company, the chances are increasing that you’ll need to collaborate on a regular basis with a colleague or stakeholder at a distance. In addition to the cost-saving benefits of using distributed teams—especially during these difficult economic times—the availability of broadband and wireless Web connections is making virtual teamwork and collaboration both more desirable and more common. Employing virtual workers, be they freelance or full time, can save companies money on office space and the overhead that comes with it—including furniture, equipment, services, and utilities. And for the virtual worker, there is often no commute—or perhaps just a minimal one to a co-working space—resulting in savings from reduced consumption of gas and car maintenance or use of public transportation.

Increasingly, virtual teamwork means UX professionals must get things done in an environment devoid of the physical presence of colleagues and lacking the relative ease of on-site collaboration. Effectively completing UX tasks while at a distance from our clients, stakeholders, and team members can be challenging, from both technical and process perspectives. How can we, as UX professionals, enable the close collaboration with others we need and manage the process of creating engaging digital experiences when we’re so far apart from each other physically?
Detriments of Virtual Work

For UX design professionals, receiving feedback from colleagues, the back-and-forth of discussions, critiques, and in-person brainstorming sessions are some of the great benefits of working together on a co-located team. Additionally, our body language—the physical cues we give one another—are a critical part of the experience of working face to face. Once UX teams become distributed, all of these modes of communication are severely curtailed. We may feel cut loose, adrift in cyberspace, with significantly less engaging means of interaction—email, phone, and instant messaging—tethering us to the team.

If you’re used to working with a team on site, at a central office location, porting your processes to an online environment can have its challenges. While you can complete the work you do on your own in much the same way you always have, team coordination, communication, and especially creative review become entirely different in virtual space."    (Continued via UXmatters. Jonathan Follett)    [Usability Resources]

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