Introducing User-Centered Design
Kellie Mecham

Q: I am the only Information Architect + Designer in an IT Solutions company. I am also fresh out of college. How can I introduce some processes to work with the programmers / coders who are working on Enterprise Solutions?

This is a question we could speak about endlessly! The good news is you’ve completed the first step. The company hired you to do IA and design work, so they are interested in what you have to say and what you can teach them about processes.

When introducing user-centered design processes, first think about the culture in which you work and consider your internal audience. For example, in an Enterprise Solutions company, how much freedom do developers have to create screens “their own way” versus using standards and guidelines? Developing effective standards and guidelines for screens, components and workflows is one good way to show your value and position yourself as an expert resource. Standards and guidelines are also beneficial because you are the only IA, and it’s likely you will not be able to personally design, or redesign, every screen of a solution by yourself.

In some organizations, conducting informal “brown bag lunches” or similar activities is a good way to determine who your advocates are and what barriers exist within the organization. Give a brief overview of a topic in IA or user-centered design that you know well. Then, leave plenty of time for questions and discussion so you can learn about your internal audience, their needs and their perceptions of you and what you can do for them.

Be careful not to stretch yourself too thin. Come up with a small set of goals for yourself and focus based on where you can add the most value. Also, consider where other people (new hires, consultants, trainers, etc.) might be able to help meet your and your organization’s goals.