Friday, November 7, 2014

What does it take to Succeed in UX?

Learn to balance the requirements against the technical possibilities and the time and resources available

Digital is the age of customer empathy, hence, UX (User Experience) or CX (Customer Experience) is no longer the project for a specific team, but become both a strategic level topic at round table and tactical topic at front desk. More specifically, what does it take to succeed in UX?

A solid understanding of business is essential to advance as a UX practitioner. This means both the (specific) business that you're in, as well as a general understanding of how businesses are structured and the various roles and responsibilities. The more you can align your work with the goals of the business, learn to communicate in terms that stakeholders understand and care about, and advocate for the ROI on crafting customer-centered solutions, the more successful you will be. Understanding product strategy and operating business models directly helps align projects and design with business strategy and customer values. Doing research is a large investment, and the value derived from UX practitioners’ research work is often indirect and hard to track. Therefore, the value you bring to the organization is more based on the relationships you form and nurture, and information and insight you bring to the table.

Develop empathy and active listening; this will help you to truly understand the context and the business and user needs. Be curious, be passionate, and learn by doing without fear to fail. Study a broad range of UX solutions in your particular industry, understand your customers and the life context where you're relevant, understand your business and what moves the needle, take time to imagine the future, develop your own perspective, and hold your ground. You need to hear what your customers and product specialists say the customers want, what the customers say they want, and what the end-users really want. You have to satisfy all of them to get it designed, sold and usable. 
- Passion, to make wonderful products
- Exposure, to good websites and apps
- Research, to expand one's knowledge

The designer’s responsibility: Your job as a designer is to help the organization you're with make the best possible solution for customers given all their knowledge and capabilities. The only way you can do that is by knowing what everyone else knows, thinks, and does. Once you have a handle on that, then you can make informed choices in your work, and get the most out of what everyone else around you has to offer. Your duty as a designer is to listen intently, and read between the lines so well, that they say 'this is exactly what I've been asking for!' even if their verbatim feedback has been asking for other features all along. You can only do that if you've been spending time and asking the right questions.

It takes relationships of others to be a UX advocate. If team members and product owners are advocates of UX, that makes it easier to succeed. If they are always questioning it, it becomes an exhausting grind. Also, make sure you go into a project with questions like: What is the business strategy? Competitive  Benchmarking? Are there any web analytics we can use, if appropriate? Make sure you have good behavioral scenarios and personas mapped out; prioritized features and functionality that supports the research, and the "marketing" of business drivers. Everything you learned about your design before real users got to use it should be categorized correctly. Those learning are what it takes to get a product out the door at your organization. Other than the classics for UX, it is important being able to negotiate. The digital traits include: (a) Having a framework and b) always willing to learn. (c) Allow you to adjust form time to time accordingly. 

Learn to balance the requirements against the technical possibilities and the time and resources available. Despite, or perhaps because of, the growing enthusiasm for customer-centered design techniques, there will inevitably be situations where a teammate (or client, or boss, or investor) will have different focus on customer experience design,  balance become the key, otherwise you'll end up pushing for solutions that will never happen, and miss chances to fight the battles you can win. Learn to talk to developers. You don't have to code, but you have to know how the product architecture works to design a usable front end that will work the way you think it does, within the system that already exists. And the more you know of how the system works and why, the deeper you can build usability into it. The front end is just the first place most people start with this stuff. 

Build a UX curriculum and knowledge is much different from a UX only profile. Work a little bit in marketing, in design and development and only when you have a clear view of what are the needs and the issues of these departments than move onto UX. UX as a link between across-functional departments so if you haven't got any exposure to their environment, it is almost impossible to work with them and find a solution for them that can actually work. Now Design Thinking, Goal-Oriented Design and many other similarly customer-centric approaches have gained much more widespread acceptance. It will still take patience to help clients and teammates work their way through the right approach at the right time. You will find people mistaking methodology for strategy, and applying techniques inefficiently to identify and define UX/CX.

As customer evangelist, either you are executive or strategist; UX designer or customer representatives, you will need great people and leadership skills as you will have to convince people and negotiate with different party to balance the requirement, in order to deliver benefits to the business, not just the customer. Learn to communicate effectively, and learn to balance competing requirements so you know which hills are worth climbing on.

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