Making UX Happen

Last night’s UKPA UK workshop on Making UX Happen reinforced my view that the User Experience community are guilty of many of the failings that we label as “the client doesn’t understand us.” Yesterday at times felt like the UX equivalent of alcoholics anonymous, as UX practitioners slowly stepped forwarded with confessions that there is more they could be doing to make UX happen.  My response to “the client doesn’t understand us,” has always been “well, you clearly didn’t do enough to help them  understand.” We regularly hide behind our rich toolkit of methods, great consumer insight and design thinking that all has its focus set firmly on the end-user. We drop our guard when it comes to understanding the client. The client has needs, behaviours and attitudes – and we need to focus in on these if we want our discipline to be better understood and to be ‘agents of change’ in driving business transformation. We have consumer empathy in abundance, but we lack empathy for our stakeholders and the business. We need to grow up and recognise that our primary aim is to fulfill the business objectives set out by our clients. Too often we are focused purely on producing the project outputs that were specified in the project plan, ignoring the other elements that are fundamental to the projects success. But these outputs don’t matter if they aren’t adopted by the stakeholders. We are responsible, along with the wider project team, for their adoption.

Do we understand all the stakeholders that can impact and influence a decision? Do we know who to engage, when to engage them, and how? Are their expectations of our customer-led approach and of the final experience correctly aligned? If we don’t know who to engage, or don’t have a strategy for engaging and communicating with our stakeholders, then this severely reduces our effectives, and increases the likelihood that our vision of the experience will not happen. Stakeholder analysis and management, communications strategies and plans, and expectations management may all sound like dull business talk, but these are techniques that we need in our toolkit now. Terms such as Power-Interest analysis and RACI matrix should be as much part of our vocabulary as personas and wireframes!

Thanks to UXUPA UK for hosting this event, and thanks to Jason Mesut, Timothy Loo and Marcus Smet for running a very worthwhile session.

I’ll follow up with a more in-depth post on more of my takeaways from last night’s event.

2 Responses to Making UX Happen
  1. Emma Reply

    Maybe it’s just me, but recently I just see the client as another user. The way I look at it is that we shouldn’t be just looking at trying to make the end product user friendly, but also the documentation they see.

    I think background in communications / change / stakeholder management has taught me that talking to the audience in ways that they understand takes a lot of tension out of projects – most clients and stakeholders are driven by the need to see benefits and I find it’s a case of quantifying each deliverable by showing what benefits it brings.

  2. Jess Reply

    There’s sometimes a tendency to see ‘business’ as anonymous, corporate or cynical and therefore somehow less worthy of our empathy. That’s very rarely a true reflection of the clients and companies most of of us end up working with though. Most clients just want their users to be happy to engage with their brand/product/idea and need help understanding how best to make that happen. Which is something very easy to empathise with!

    As an aside, one thing I’ve found is that aligning the business case with the end user experience is a really compelling argument for making change…

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