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“Can I have it in blue?” – Are you suffering from the Bike-Shed Effect?

This blog is an updated version of one I posted a few years ago now.
I’ve updated to show how SAP Fiori can avoid one major design pitfall.

As a somewhat experienced UX Designer, I came across the term “Bikeshedding” and as a Software Developer, it’s something I had encountered many times, but could never put a name to it.

The official name is Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, and it explains that organisations place too much importance on trivial things. Which in Parkinson’s case was the design a nuclear power plant’s bike shed, over the actual nuclear power plant itself!

In my world, this means asking for a button to be Blue, Green or any colour without actually discussing what the button should do. Now I admit that in some cases the colour is very important to the end user, especially those with visual impairments, but in the case of Bike-shedding, these conversations waste time and often money, as too much effort is put in to areas that have little or no bearing on the functionality of the end product.

I’m guessing many people have been involved in project meetings, where you often leave wondering what you actually achieved, or that you never actually made a decision about the topic you were there to discuss in the first place?

There are many reasons why this might occur. For instance, the people making decisions have little or no understanding of the more complex issues of a project, and therefore wish to delay discussing it. Perhaps they have too much knowledge, so think it is something that can be left until the end, or in some cases, they just feel they have to make a decision about something, no matter what it is, in order for them to feel like they are contributing. Point to note, the latter of these can sometimes have a detrimental effect on product quality.

Regardless of the reason, Bike-shedding is rather frustrating for those of us actually creating, building or designing. However, by using SAP Fiori and theme designer organisation can in some case overcome these challenges.

How SAP Fiori can help…

SAP offers a multitude of resources that can be found in the link below
https://experience.sap.com/fiori-design-web/

But I have picked out some key ones that I believe will help, along with some well-known words of wisdom.

1. Keep it Simple

If you follow the SAP Fiori Design Principles you can’t go wrong. They’re called Principles for a reason, don’t try and recreate the wheel. Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s not innovative.
https://experience.sap.com/fiori-design-web/design-principles/

2. Don’t worry about what it looks like! Make sure it works

SAP’s Theme designer tool takes a lot of the stress out of recreating colour themes and branding of solutions
https://experience.sap.com/fiori-design-web/theming/

But you need to consider how pivotal something is to the overall functionality of a solution.
Make sure it works, the rest can come later. This something that needs to be established early on with clients.
There will always be elements where the colour is fundamental to the design and functionality and that should be brought out as early as possible. However, whether a logo needs to be one the left or right? That’s not going to help in training is it?

3. Don’t make it harder for yourself

Whether you’re an SAP Consultant, or you work for an organisation that runs SAP. Don’t make things harder for yourself on the first day by starting with a blank slate and asking a group of people who’ve never been involved in design to design something.
SAP has some ready-made stencils that you can use, as a starter for 10
https://experience.sap.com/fiori-design-web/downloads/#stencils-for-tool-design-axure-rp

These provide a great foundation for opening conversations to design and are great examples of Design Thinking.

Conclusion

Don’t get sucked into the never ending Bike-shedding cycles, SAP has enough resources to make sure you’re well equipped for any design meeting.  Also, don’t be afraid to stick to the basis until the complex requirements are agreed.  There are so many other resources available for SAP Fiori, but these three should give you enough to get going.

 

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