As a User Experience (UX) consultant, much of my time is spent talking with colleagues, clients and industry peers about user experience design processes and the benefits of UX techniques.
Sometimes these conversations happen in a meeting environment which I am used to – but often, I find the more challenging conversation is when a colleague makes an off-the-cuff remark in the lift: “so what is UX anyway?”.
It’s important for me to make these interactions valuable as a key part of my role is to build UX advocacy within our internal business and teams.
I know a lot of my clients have faced a similar challenge where they need to effectively articulate the value of a commonly misunderstood practice and in turn grab the attention of senior stakeholders.
What’s become very clear over the years is, my peers – who are not directly part of the UX community – have vastly different interpretations of what user experience is or means.
There are those who really get on board as they inherently understand the value of applying user-centric processes to project implementation, but occasionally I come across an ArcGIS guru who – probably due to their own genius – can’t really comprehend that anyone would ever have usability issues with GIS technology.
Then there are those – and there are many in this category – who have absolutely no idea what the acronym “UX” stands for.
And who can really blame them with all the acronyms being thrown around these days?
In the user experience world, we use UX, HCD, IXD, CE just to name a few… and then we talk about “heuristics analysis”, “discovery sessions” and “A/B testing”.
It’s bound to get confusing for anyone not versed in UX design terminology.
It’s safe to say I’ve been guilty of causing my fair share of glazed-over stares in my time…. those moments when I realise I’ve completely lost the person I’m talking to. They politely listen to my spiel on the value of good user experience and then respond with something like “so can you just make it look good with our brand colours?”.
That’s when my heart sinks as I know I’ve failed to communicate the UX message clearly.
So, here are a few tips to help you approach those “What is UX?” conversations differently – and hopefully move you that bit closer to securing UX advocacy for your project planning and delivery.
It makes sense to draw on the very tactics and key messages that user experience is all about:
Know your audience
Understand their needs
Make it relevant to them
Put simply, tailor your conversation based on who you’re talking to at the time and provide the info that’s important to them, while leaving out all the unnecessary jargon and irrelevant detail.
Here’s an example of how you can explain to your co-workers what UX is and why it matters (in under one minute).
UX for senior executives
Senior executives are time poor, fact driven and always focused on the bottom line. You need to communicate the problem (quickly) – and more importantly – follow it up with how you’re going to fix it through UX techniques. Then, highlight the benefit this will have on the business.
“Metrics show us that the new solution is being used by only 40% of employees, so we are going to do a company-wide survey and conduct user testing to pin-point and understand the specific barriers to adoption. From there, we will optimise the application for users which will increase uptake – and we’ll finally be in a position to decommission those legacy licences we are still paying for.”
UX for project managers
If I’m chatting with a project manager, it’s likely they need to understand the value UX can bring to their projects. A relevant angle would be to outline how the UX process assists with timeline and budget management.
“To alleviate the issue of scope creep on projects, we devote 10% of the project time to user research and prototyping so the client can test and sign off on user requirements before implementation. Being clear on ‘needs’ over ‘wants’ gives PMs clarity on what tasks to prioritise within budgets and deadlines.”
UX for developers
When it comes to designers and developers, their bugbears might be rework and recode. Position UX in a way that highlights how upfront research and planning can dramatically reduce the time they are used to spending on rework.
“Stats suggest that 50% of project time is spent on rework and edits. Techniques like user profiling and journey mapping give us amazing insight into how a user might interact with an application, which allows us to create, test and confirm detailed design layouts long before any pixels are positioned, or code is written.”
While these conversation tactics should help, getting your colleagues on-board the UX train will probably take more than some dazzling conversation.
Include them in UX activities like workshops and interviews so they can see for themselves how these practices so intricately influence the planning and design of a solution.
And as they say, the proof is in the pudding – sharing your user experience success stories in language that is relevant across the business, may just be what’s needed to win over sceptics.
To discuss how to tackle your organisations unique UX challenges, head to our website and book a free 30-minute phone consultation with our UXG team.
We are happy to help in any way we can, no matter how big or small the challenge.