Advocating for Good UX

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User experience professionals striving for good UX face many demands. One enduring challenge is how to convey the value of UX to colleagues and decision makers. In this post, we outline 5 tips aimed at helping you advocate for UX in your organization.

Tip 1—Push Return on Investment (ROI)

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In 2008, Jakob Nielsen published a report based on a survey of design projects. The average ROI for KPIs was 83%. At UI UX training, our post about ROI cites more recent data. The point is straightforward. Many executives respond to numbers. While UX ROI can be hard to measure, \whenever possible, document the impact of your team’s design work on KPIs and overall customer satisfaction. Such effort will increase the credibility of UX and could lead to the UX team’s involvement in high-profile projects.

Tip 2—Conduct Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis is essentially a heuristic evaluation of the competition’s products. A common approach is to begin with a heuristic evaluation of your app and then extend the evaluation to your top competitors.

This exercise helps you understand the user’s experience with each competitor’s app, including:

  • What works well and what you might want to replicate (not copy but include) in the experience you design for customers and prospects.
  • Competitor weaknesses and areas where you can leverage your firm’s strengths.
  • Possible gaps that you can fill to provide a seamless, engaging experience.

Tip 3—Spread the Word

In advocate., Paul Boag describes 10 ways UX designers can advocate for good UX. Three stand out:

  • Seek others in the organization who care about a high-quality user experience. Meet with these like-minded colleagues and find ways to work together to promote user experience in your organization.
  • Formalize design principles. One effective method is to for designers, developers, and product managers to work together to build a patterns library. At UI UX Training, we have found this approach to be effective in sustaining good design and advocating for good UX. For example, we worked on a multi-year project to build a patterns library for several products suites at a large finance firm. The rigorous and sustained effort resulted in buy-in from executives and product and development teams.
  • Create posters of personas and distribute them throughout the office. Boag cites Mailchimp’s success with this strategy. At UI UX Training, we’ve seen this strategy work well because it literally provides a visual for everyone in the company as they stroll through the halls to their next meeting.

Tip 4—Share the Pain

Inviting developers, product managers, and other decisions makers to usability tests is hardly a new idea. In our experience at UI UX Training, however, it happens less often then you might think. “I’ll definitely be there for every session,” often becomes “I’ll try observe one session,” to “I can’t make it, on a deadline.”

It’s worth pushing the point, however. For example, while working on a UX team at a large financial firm, we encountered intense resistance from devs when we asked for changes to the UI. Fortunately, they agreed to observe a few usability test sessions. Not surprisingly, the developers in the observation room nearly jumped out of their skin when they saw how users struggled. “But, it’s right there, the button is right there,” they fumed. Professionals that we were, we did not say “If the user doesn’t see it, it’s not there.”

Adobe employees took a similar approach when they realized that customers were struggling to buy multiple copies of software licenses. Rather than complain to I/T or plead to upper management for support, they staged a demonstration. They politely asked executives to log on and buy several copies of a license for one of the Adobe product suites, something that the system did not allow at that time. When executives experienced the same frustration as Adobe customers, they quickly ordered their staff to fix the problem.

Share the pain. It works!

Tip 5—Insert UX into CX

While the line between UX and CS is often fuzzy, CX often carries the day. Rather than staking out a separate UX territory, trying riding on CX’s coattails.

This issue emerged while we were teaching a three-day workshop on UX Web and app design. One student was a highly experienced UX director at a large retailer. He had achieved buy-in for UX at the executive level. His challenge was how to persuade his fellow directors in other areas that UX was good for them and would serve the company well.

After an extended discussion, we suggested skipping World Usability Day because, in our experience, it does not often persuade those who resist devoting resources to UX.

Instead, we suggested participating in the company’s annual CX day. Because CX and UX are complementary, showing the insights provided by contextual inquiry, heuristic evaluations, iterative design, and usability testing would be straightforward. Furthermore, properly presented, these demonstrations would show other teams how the UX group could lighten their workload by conducting research and testing and then sharing the results with everyone involved in customer experience.

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If you’re in need of user experience training, workshops, or design courses tailored to your organization’s unique needs, get in touch with our team today! We’re passionate about helping brands and individuals delve into the realm of UI and UX, and we’d love to work with you to provide the ideal solutions to your individualized needs.

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