BY: JACK COLE
The Client Guide
The user experience (UX) design field is booming and with good reason. From startups to Fortune 100 companies, more stakeholders are discovering that good design is good for business. Whether it’s through hiring internal UX teams or outsourcing for a specific product or service launches, working with a team of UX professionals can be one of the greatest investments a company can make.
According to a report by Forrester Research, companies who invest in UX can expect to see an ROI of $100 for every $1 invested. But in our experience, some stakeholders still struggle to see the value UX can provide. Over the years, we have developed a series of strategies to keep stakeholders engaged and excited about the UX process, a key to keeping clients happy and delivering services that get them the most out of their UX investment. Yet some clients seem unaware of the ways in which they can self-sabotage during the UX process, or how to improve the overall experience for themselves and their teams.
Do Your Homework
If you want success and an ROI on your UX investment, seek a firm that has a proven track record in your field. For example, if you’re looking to create a mobile platform for a banking application, ask for case studies that articulate the team’s ability to take a banking application to new heights.
The Early Bird
When it comes to consultation and seeking a UX team, a good rule of thumb is the sooner the better. This is not to say user experience should be ignored once a product or service has been launched, but it is much easier and morecost-effectivee to begin the design process with the end user in mind than to course correct once launched.
And this rule should continue with iteration and UX research and design over time. At the start of each new inquiry hold a Kickoff meeting to align expectations and clearly define roles. The UX professionals involved approach this Kickoff prepared with questions to guide the discussion, but if you feel as though something has not been covered, or their approach lacks your unique perspective, it’s best to speak up. By clearly providing your business goals from the start of a project, you will set realistic and tangible goals to drive your design forward, all while setting your team, your business, and yourself up for success.
Do You Really Want to Know?
Sometimes it can be difficult to hear what your customers really think about your company, product, or service, so it’s important to be prepared for some tough love. Fortunately, in UX, problems are opportunities. So, while it may be difficult to hear, remember that every time a customer pain point is discovered, or a critique is delivered, it provides an opportunity to improve upon your design and your relationships with your customers. If you close yourself off to absorbing negative feedback or react harshly to critique, you can limit what people are willing to share. This can be especially damaging when it comes to internal UX teams whose jobs and salaries are on the line.
According to a report by Forrester Research, companies who invest in UX can expect to see an ROI of $100 for every $1 invested
Ask the Right Questions
When you work with an external or internal UX team it’s important to work with people who understand what it is you want to accomplish and what they, in turn, can provide. But defining this core issue or question can be difficult if the sole perspective is seen through a purely business scope. Of course, it’s natural to frame questions around business assets and ask, “Why has our gross profit fallen this quarter?” However, the real question you may need to be asking is, “What experience is causing our customers to spend less?” If you’re not versed in the nuances of UX, that’s OK. But to get the most out of the UX design experience, it’s important to not just be a stakeholder — be a collaborator.
Once a goal is defined it’s time to work with your UX team to weigh the options of different UX research methods that best align with your specific needs. What does a lean sprint provide? What will I receive if I get an expert review? What does field study deliver by way of findings? If these options don’t feel right for me, what will you do to make it right?
Trust the Process
Although everyone is talking UX and its popularity has been on the rise, it’s not new to the scene. The process of implementing these methods has proven over time to be not just beneficial but, in many cases, imperative to the success of a company. By trusting in the process and designing with the end user in mind, you foster trust and loyalty between your users and your brand. But some methods may seem unconventional. If you’re not ready to dive in head first, dip your toe into the UX pond. Lean sprints and agile design methods can produce powerful results in short time frames, allowing you to shift your direction or solve for a newly discovered issue.
When you see results, you will see how UX can work for you and fit into your design process long term. And different methods can be used to compliment and build off of one another, so don’t be afraid to seek different solutions than you’re used to. When it comes to UX, the concept “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” goes right out the window. After all, innovation and inspired design don’t come from managing the status quo.
The truth is, if your UX team doesn’t win, your customers don’t win. And when your customers don’t win, your company will suffer. So get involved. Be a part of the process and keep the lines of communication open to expressing and hearing new thoughts and ideas. Not only will UX bring you closer to your client’s needs and provide clarity to improve upon or drive design, it can provide insight into what is possible.