In recent years, the perception of UX design has changed dramatically. In the profession’s early days, less mature organizations frequently treated UX professionals as another type of graphic designer, as though UX designers were synonymous with Web designers. But, in today’s leading organizations, UX design is a strategic capability that drives innovation and enhances competitiveness. Similarly, the role of UX professionals has shifted beyond creating functional—if not delightful—user experiences by applying usability, information architecture, and design principles. Now, UX professionals are applying more of their understanding of psychology and human behavior to devising design principles in the service of persuasion. Read More
Over the last several years, I’ve noticed a shift in the adoption of User Experience within organizations. This is encouraging, but might also require UX professionals to consider the skills and the roles that we bring to product teams. There are two key factors that are now impacting the way UX professionals work with product teams.
First is the adoption of new project-management methods, as well as the integration of UX deliverables into those methods. Early in my career, most software and Web projects followed a waterfall methodology, which is still common in manufacturing industries. The difficulty I frequently encountered with this approach was that it rarely allowed sufficient time for the integration of new knowledge. UX research often got squeezed out because it didn’t directly add business value. Often, from the beginning of a project, a product team essentially had to know exactly what they would deliver at the end of the project. The team’s inability to deviate from the original plan undermined the iterative nature of most UX design approaches. Read More
As software products have expanded over the decades, companies have had to apply a fair amount of effort to managing their customers’ experience. Since companies have added more and more features and functions to their software products, customer engagement has begun to fluctuate. Managing customers’ expectations had become complicated. These products have continued to grow because customers desired more features and the software companies wanted to offer more value—for a nominal fee, of course. Now, these companies confront the challenge not only of how to design and build the new features but also how to manage and release them.
Several companies—for example, Google—have managed these changes fairly well, but many have a lot of room for improvement. The days are over when we can honestly say, “If we build it, they will come.” We must do the work necessary to truly understand our customers’ needs. If we understood our customers, we would understand that we can’t just jam new features or functions into our software and expect customers joyfully to accept them. Read More