Although tech companies will need to be involved in community-wide efforts, they also have a distinct role to play. If you work for a tech company that wants to make the tech you develop more accessible, here’s what you and other people at your company can do.
Building Relationships to Develop Community-Oriented UX
The first thing you’ll want to do is to start exploring how to implement community-oriented UX.
- If you work in a large company, odds are there already community groups that your company has a relationship with, such as community groups your company has given grants or donations or groups where some of your staff volunteer. Using these pre-existing relationships, you can see if these groups might be interested in building a partnership.
- There’s a good chance your community partners aren’t familiar with community-oriented UX, so you’ll need to explain what you’re trying to do and why. But if the group has trainers who are skilled at training folks in the community to use tech, there’s a good chance that once they understand what you’re trying to do and why, they’ll be interested in at least trying a short experiment.
There are 2 keys to making this partnership work:
- Pick the Right Tech. If you have more than one framework/library/etc. to choose from, pick the tech that’s easier to make accessible. Right now, for example, if you’re developing tools in augmented and virtual reality, these are a pretty safe bet.
- Find The Right Partner. It may be that the community groups you already work with aren’t ready to make the leap. Or it may be that they aren’t a good fit right now – for example, they just don’t have the time given their other priorities. There may be other community groups you haven’t worked with who make more sense as partners – perhaps even groups that haven’t traditionally engaged in tech training but have a lot of capacity and experience training in other areas.
Once you’ve figured out the right Tech and the right partner(s), you want to start your collaboration with a pilot project. The goal of the pilot is to get your feet wet and start learning how to do community-oriented UX in a way that works for everyone involved. If you’re ready, it also might be worth considering using these first baby steps as a chance to begin conversations about the possibility of hiring one or more community groups as community-oriented UX consultants once they’ve gained some expertise.
Small Startups. For small startups, the situation is more complicated. Most startups don’t have the kind of resources that a larger shop has – and there’s a good chance they don’t have any relationships in the community to start from. But it’s still worth exploring to see if there are ways you can build a partnership.
Be Flexible. All of the above is meant only as a guide; you’ll need to adapt it to your circumstances. For example, it may take some time before you’ll figure out the right community partners. In the meantime, there’s no reason you couldn’t start working on smoothing the learning curve. In the experience of this report’s author, many emerging tech frameworks, etc. have glaring UX shortfalls – issues where anyone with experience teaching coding to non-techie adults could point out a number of problems that could be fixed even before you start using formal UX techniques.