UX governance tips for scaling ecosystems

Once your product or service is opened up to developers in the ecosystem, you would be facing a challenging question. How much of the product should we allow them to tinker with? Too much policing can curb innovation and developers would move away. Too little governance and you have to take responsibility for bad user experiences created in your product by others. Here are some points I discovered while working on such a project.

Harmony, balance, getting things done, shining content and progressive disclosure. A sample design principles sketch.

Share your design principles and school of thought on how decisions are made for your product. Make a concise subset of these principles for the ecosystem developers to follow. It should be an easy takeaway that they understand how to preserve the user experience for your end users while developing in silos.

Explain the conceptual layers of your product’s interface to developers

Understand the anatomy of the product or service and document it in such a way that developers can understand it. Developers come to ecosystem to make money or scale their product’s adoption by leveraging successful integration opportunities. They may not have the time or motivation to understand your product in depth.

Define your product’s interface and what each part or zone does. Map out how your existing user base relate to it and explain why you want it to be preserved.

Document your product interface elements, help ecosystem developers understand why you want them standardized.

Provide reusable resources of your product like stencils, user interface component libraries and interaction patterns that are standard and highlight why re-inventing the wheel is not recommended.

It is your responsibility to promote categories or domains where you want innovation to happen and preserve the soft and sensitive parts. Have strategies in place to promote innovation in these areas. (Example — strategic partnership, demos in events, awards and recognition for superior solutions)

Have a strict governance process and stamp the ones who pass your standards.

Have a strict governance and approval process and stick to it. This is one of the most important step and many companies do not give enough importance or resources to this activity. Being gate keepers of your product helps you identify gems and rots at an early stage.

Document your product from conceptual to surface levels. The delivery of this content should also be tailored for different developer personas.