User Experience (UX) design is a critical process determining the success of any software development project. As such, focusing on delivering a great user experience can be the backbone of driving profitable interactions and outcomes for people and digital initiatives whatever the channel or form (web, mobile, product or service). Effectively conducted UX design ensures delivering a well-tailored product, satisfying exact users needs and providing them with an excellent experience, which in return generates a high conversion rate.
Here are five simple tips to minimize commercial risks and maximize benefits while collaborating with an external UX design team.
1. Set the stage
Getting to know each other is an important part of the initial stage of the project. Since the team members represent various points of view and have different responsibilities, introducing them to each other brings real value and facilitates the success of the future collaborative efforts. It is the right time to share the vision and reveal each other’s domain knowledge for aligning technical and business perspective.
It may happen, that the roles of team members are not defined, not known well enough, or even cross-over at some points, for example, UX designers may cover Project Manager's or Product Owner’s competencies. It is important to clarify responsibilities at the very beginning of the collaboration; this increases productivity and success of the team.
2. Get ready for questions
At its core, UX design is fundamentally about creating value and business viable human-technology relationships. Balancing business acumen alongside design-centric skillsets in any team makeup is equally crucial, to enable both organizational and user priorities to be considered in any solution or outcome. UX professionals are deeply focused on understanding the crux of a problem, and on generating, validating and developing precisely crafted digital solutions.
It is the insight UX designers gather through research and workshops that make this possible. From a business perspective, the best way to benefit from Product Designers competencies is to provide them with full access to inners of the problem space i.e. the business, the processes, the consumers, etc. It all comes down to answering questions that relate to audience, goals, existing research, and technology constraints. Some of these questions might be left without an answer at the initial point, and it’s ok. If allowed, UX designers will find the answers by asking the right people, the right questions, in a right way.
Who are the right people? They are the users. Knowing the users’ perspective is the way to get to the top. It is the users experience that is the key success factor.
What are the right questions? Businesses often ask their target group for what they need. However, people rarely can define on their own what solution would meet their needs. They also tend to think in the first place about possible solutions they already know. By conducting robust interviews, UX specialists can identify latent needs (those unarticulated or to be met), Journeys and workflows and mental models (framing tasks, expectations, and experience) and come up with an exact tailored solution.
What are the right ways? The right ways are the ones that allow for minimizing the risk of misleading conclusions. UX professionals are trained to choose the methods dedicated to tackling a particular issue in the best possible way through a suite of tools, frameworks, and methods. Depending on the stage of a project, problems to solve and available resources, UX specialists may choose to conduct diagnostic approaches to known solutions or problems e.g. iterative user testing, guerilla testing, remote testing, qualitative surveys and much more.
UX designers combine competencies of cognitive psychology and sociology. They know how to define users’ intuitive understanding of how something functions (mental models) and how to incorporate this knowledge into information architecture, interaction design and visual interfaces. They are also trained to guide other team members in defining an ideal scope of functionalities to cover. They are familiar with good practices, which are like traffic regulations – you'd better not create your own, just for your town.
The higher the mutual understanding and trust between the business and UX team, the higher the chances for joined success. However, trusting experts doesn’t mean to not question their choices. Businesses should make sure UX team members have selected a well-tailored design process for their case. They should ask for justification of design decisions and for their recommendations. Designers, on the other hand, should guide business stakeholders through the basis of design decisions. Their know-how can be an additional benefit for the client.
4. Take care of a good communication
Although this may sound obvious, it is important to know how to explain business needs to a UX designer. Business stakeholders are feeling familiar with their customers’ needs and habits and having a strong understanding of what the business’s competitive edge is, often find it tempting to demand an already defined solution for a problem. This approach often happens to be an obstacle for an effective and innovation-driven collaboration with a UX design team.
It is because the UX designer’s role is to bring together disparate viewpoints from numerous areas such as user outcomes, engineering, customer service, and marketing. Aside from business goals, they are above all focused on the user motivations and needs first and foremost. Referring to well-defined key strategic goals while communicating with UX professional is just enough to make sure that designed solution will meet users’ needs as well as business viability expectations.
5. Decide effectively
The UX research and design phase might require some decisions to be made. Product designers may take some responsibility for making the decisions in the scope of their competencies. It is worth trusting them. The design process may uncover a need for redefining strategy or implementing new procedures among organization to support new functionalities. UX team should offer alternatives and come up with several solutions with a clear list of their pros and cons. Delegating a person at the business side responsible for supervising and facilitating decision process, might be of crucial importance for sustaining optimal workflow.
To quote former IBM President, Thomas Watson – “Good Design is good business.” In fact, Forester Research shows that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. Poor user experience only naturally equates to poor conversion rates, uptake, and loyalty. More and more companies are turning to the collaboration with Product, Service & Experience design teams to determine the definition of successful outcomes for their business solution needs, be they Business to Consumer (B2C) or Business to Business (B2B) every company in every industry can leverage great customer experiences for business gain. Investing your time and money into setting the right stage for any project, clarifying responsibilities, allowing UX designers to collect insight and frame innovation, applying the selected solutions and facilitating seamless decisions, pays off in creating winning customer-centered solutions that increase user satisfaction and drive performance.