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in « UX/UI design »,
 April 19 2017

UX Invasion: How to prioritize User Experience in your workplace

What client doesn’t want their user to like the product? In turn, is prioritizing User Experience an add-on? Or is it a building block for every successful application?

As a UX designer, I find it very frustrating that in 2017, I must still fight to prove the value of User Experience. It’s like having to fight for women’s equality at a time when you’d hope it had become common sense. But, like everything else on this planet, what is common sense now had to be fought for and earned.

To all the frustrated designers out there, I hear you. So let’s transform this frustration into creative solutions to get our message across. I am grateful to finally work for a company where users have earned their rightful place in the development process. But trust me, it did not come easily. Our amazing team of designers had to work in unison for months to cultivate awareness about UX and earn the trust of clients, managers and developers.

This article is a fun twist on how we made it happen here at Spiria. I hope it serves as an inspiration for you to lead a UX invasion into the heart of your workplace. Here we go!!!

The Problem
Many companies and clients are oblivious to the vital role UX plays in developing a successful application.

UX Designers’ Goal
Have an opportunity to optimize User Experience for every application.

But How?
Educate your stakeholders about what UX can do. Yes, this is your job.
Use their language to make your voice heard.

The irony: Use UX to nail this problem
The essence of what we do is understanding our target audience and addressing its needs. So why not do the same in this case?

Let’s use the UX process to solve this problem!

User Research & Analysis

Start by researching your users. Go around the office and talk to your colleagues: developers, project managers and, most importantly, the sales representatives who are recruiting the clients and projects. Ask them what they know about UX and where they think it fits in the process of creating an application. Analyze the collected data in order to understand your audience, their views on UX, as well as their goals and frustrations. Then, create personas using this data.

Personas

This story involves too many users. The following sample personas are not real people but a figment of my inspired imagination. Let’s even add a persona for you, the UX designer.

Maya Myers, UX Designer, Amazingo
Maya.Maya lives and breathes User Experience. She is a staunch advocate of UX, but her passion is not enough to successfully lobby for UX in a logic-dominated industry. She needs to speak the right language to stakeholders and prove that prioritizing user needs will successfully deliver business needs. But above all, Maya must find a way to make her voice heard.

Mario Russo, Sales Manager, Amazingo
Mario.Mario is great at building relationships and obtaining new business. Clients love him and cannot seal the deal without him. But he doesn’t fully understand technology. When Maya approached him about UX, he thought it was just one more JavaScript Library he couldn’t remember. His goal is to impress his clients and generate more business.

Brian Williams, Senior Developer, Amazingo
Brian.Brian is an experienced developer who also plays the role of project manager. UX and UI are one and the same to him; both serve the purpose of defining the style and aesthetics of the interface. When new features are required, he relies on his common sense to come up with quick solutions. His goal is to please the client, and deliver the product on time and on budget.

Gerald White, CEO, Amazingo
Gerald.Gerald successfully built Amazingo from the ground up. His goal is to ship cutting-edge solutions to the market and attract more clients. Having been in the business for a while, he knows the value of UX in application design. In fact, UX is in such hot demand by wellheeled clients that he started selling it as a premium feature.

Joe Beefman, Client, Owner of Instant Kababs
Joe.Joe is a very successful entrepreneur. Thanks to some brilliant ideas, he has launched many successful businesses. His current vision is to turn his kabab franchise into an instant online delivery service. Joe wants a smart website and mobile app that will boost his profits. While is not willing to compromise on quality, he nevertheless wants the best possible price.

Scenarios

Scenario 1: The one where you give up

Mario, the salesman, meets the client, Joe Beefman, and works with the developers at Amazingo to write a proposal. Maya, the designer, is itching to participate, but she hesitates to come forward. UX Design is not included in the approach and was not pitched to the client. Joe Beefman signs the contract and hopes that Amazingo will deliver a successful website that converts users into instant customers.

Brian the developer efficiently leads the project, and after a quick UI design, divides the work into sprints. Developers leverage the latest technologies to achieve great functionality and highquality reusable code. They create the website within the promised timeline and budget and the client is very pleased with their professionalism.

However, a few months later Joe Beefman comes back to Amazingo. He approaches Mario and asks him to hold off on the mobile application because the website is not performing according to his expectations.

Gerald, the CEO, calls an emergency meeting to assess the situation. Analytics confirm that the website has a very high bounce rate; users seem to be leaving without ordering. Beefman’s intel points to a competitor’s website, to which users are flocking, and whose business is booming.

Naturally, everyone involved is disappointed and is asking Why? The website’s functionality is impeccable, so what can be causing users to leave for another forum? At this stage, Maya is called upon to analyze the low conversion rates and propose solutions.

After so much effort and investment, if users reject the product, we all fail. The client, sales, the CEO, developers, designers, we all failed to achieve our goal. Our efforts are rewarded only if the product wins the ❤️ heart of users.

Scenario 2: The one where you make a difference

Mario meets the client and starts working with developers to write a proposal.

Meanwhile, Maya has already started her UX Invasion Campaign. She pounced on Gerald, the CEO, at lunchtime and respectfully gave him a hardhitting speech on the indispensable benefits of UX. Gerald may have seen the value of her approach, or he simply wanted to eat his meal in peace; we don’t know for sure. But he nodded politely and asked her to join the “Instant Kababs” team. Hoooorayyyyy!!! ✅ CEO check;

One week later, in a client meeting, Maya used case studies to prove that a usercentred approach is the best investment to ensure the success of a product. She presented facts about the impact of UX on Return on Investment (ROI). At this point, Joe Beefman started listening to how UX increases customer retention and customer conversion, and boosts SEO and marketing efforts. Yes, yes, he wants all that. ✅ Client check;

And, when Maya suggested reducing wasted development time by testing and fixing errors on prototypes, even our brainy Brian was sold. ✅ Developer check;

Maya presented numbers, data and facts rather than colors, feelings and opinions. She used language that her stakeholders understood and appreciated. Her message was heard and users were put at the heart of design. A timeline and budget were allotted for user research and ideation; wireframes were designed and tested before jumping into development.

When developers started coding, every page was already thought through and designed to meet users’ needs. Executing the designs was easy, allowing developers to focus on what they do best, i.e. ensuring great functionality to enable users to achieve their goal.

Throughout the project, designers and developers collaborated to produce a rockstar website that was fully optimized for its target audience. So, naturally, in this best-case scenario, the following happened:

  • Users loved the website: it was user-friendly, accessible and reputable. They used it often and recommended it to their friends.
  • Joe’s business boomed. He was ecstatic and asked Amazingo to proceed with the mobile app.
  • Gerald got a new multimilliondollar project and a happy client, who confidently referred many other clients to Amazingo.
  • Mario got a huge commission and a bunch of new references from Joe. He was proud to work with a strong team that delivers what clients want.
  • Developers were happy to create a successful product that both the client and users appreciated.
  • Maya, well, you must know how she feels. She can’t wipe the smile of success off her face.

I need not spell it out in wireframes & prototypes for you to get the point. Endusers are what make an application successful. As a UX designer, your job is to get your stakeholders to see this. Use every tool in your toolbox to make your voice heard. Once you’ve earned the trust of clients and colleagues, you can get off your soapbox. Everyone will see the value of your approach. Everyone wants exactly what you want: A Happy User. So, get moving and make it happen!

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