During our User Experience process, we follow three straightforward practices that are cardinal to our approach and help ensure our clients understand the value and importance of primary user research in the quest to design a more effective and enjoyable user experience for their customers:
- We conduct research about the client.
- We design the client’s processes.
- We sacrifice some short-term UX design goals to achieve long-term, strategic change.
In this article, I’ll describe these three practices and explore how other companies might apply them to their approaches to UX design.
Do research on the client, not just for the client.
UX teams perform user research so they can empathize with users. While they listen to the voice of the customer directly, they often don’t realize that this same approach works in learning more about their clients. As UX professionals, we can employ ethnography every single day in our work with clients—from sales through implementation. Observing clients’ internal interactions helps us to understand their painpoints, their goals, and what needs to change to make their lives better. Plus, throughout the process of getting to know the client, we can learn to use the client’s language rather than academic language or UX jargon.
Once you understand the client’s needs, we recommend that you share this knowledge with the design team and formulate a plan to evangelize User Experience throughout the client’s entire organization. Leverage the company’s existing culture by taking advantage of brown-bag lunches, company updates, and even digital signage in the office to share UX design outputs and receive feedback. Take the initiative to show the client what you’ve created instead of waiting for them to ask to see it. When presenting your team’s work, personalize the presentation with research results that convey your discoveries about the client and its culture, in addition to showing some of the UX changes the new design will implement. This will help them to see the value of good User Experience firsthand.
At Fuzzy Math, we often demonstrate the long-term, strategic impact of our work by presenting a UX roadmap to the organization’s leadership team, which we’ve developed on the basis of extensive research on both their users and the company’s processes. This roadmap helps us translate users’ needs into effective process and product improvements that we can assist the company in achieving. Further, our research helps us predict some of the challenges a company might face in the future—after our contracted work with them has ended. This roadmap not only presents how the user experience should evolve over time to meet their users’ needs, but also demonstrates our understanding of their organization’s current challenges in relation to their customers.