How To Win (UX) Friends And Influence People
As awareness of UX is increasing, user experience professionals may find themselves hired by a company that wants to reap the benefits of UX but doesn’t really understand the process of user-centred design. This can lead to problems in getting approval to conduct UX activities and/or implementing design changes. So, what can you do to increase your influence and demonstrate the value of UX? I’m going to share a few tips to get you started.
Enthusiasm is contagious so, whenever you’re talking to someone about UX, sound like you care about what you’re doing and the difference a user-centred approach can make to your company’s products/services.
Don’t just talk a good game though; make the effort to bring a positive energy to projects and deliver high-quality work so people get to see the benefits you and your approach bring.
Building good working relationships with various stakeholders in your company in order to get things done. Identify who these people are, then make the effort to get to know them. Ask them about their role, what their needs are and the challenges they’re facing. Tell them about your needs and challenges too. Then, work out how your UX activities can help them achieve their goals and offer your help, bearing in mind how their knowledge, experience and ways of working could shape your efforts. Share your thoughts with them and/or start doing things that you think will benefit them so that they will (hopefully) reciprocate and you will build the strong working relationship you’re after.
Sabrina Duda, UX Researcher at Experian Data Quality (and a UX professional with 20 years’ experience) actually brought up the importance of building relationships at our most recent workshop, UX On The Front Line – which shows that having strong internal relationships really does work!
Spread The Word
As well as getting key stakeholders onboard with what you’re trying to achieve, it’s a good idea to increase a wider awareness throughout your company to improve the chance of UX support requests coming your way. If you can demonstrate the value of your UX activities, even better!
Here are a few ways you can achieve this:
- Running seminars about UX and its benefits (offering free food and drink is a good way to get more people to turn up!)
- Test early-stage prototypes with colleagues so that they get exposed to, and feel included in, the user testing process
- Ask people to come and observe user testing sessions so they can see for themselves how your products are used by customers
- Share high-level insights from recent projects, e.g. a short summary email describing the project, the UX activities undertaken and the key learnings/improvements made
- Create case studies showcasing the impact of your UX activities
- Showcase your work in communal areas (ideally near your workspace so you can have conversations with anyone who stops to take a look)
Make your life easier by creating a set of UX assets that will allow you to work more efficiently, and therefore reduce your cost to the business. If you can reduce the cost of your work, people (e.g. product owners) are more likely to involve you in projects. You may find that you need a number of assets so prioritise the ones that will have the most impact on the efficiency of the UX process. These may include:
- A project briefing document that captures the essential information you need to know before you start your work
- Discussion guides for use during research and evaluation activities, e.g. usability testing, focus groups, contextual observations
- Personas (sketch personas are a good place to start if you don’t have enough insight about your customers for full-blown ones)
- Prototype templates for the products and devices you design for
- Video and audio recording equipment for use during user testing and other research activities
- A big stack of post-it notes for those in-depth analysis sessions
- Design guidelines covering visual and interaction design so you can create a consistent look and feel to your work (these are likely to take a lot of effort to create but can pay dividends in the long-run)
Once you’ve established yourself as a valuable and positive member of the organisation, you can look to further embed UX into the company’s operations (for example, aligning UX activities with the organisation’s key performance indicators). Getting your organisation to adopt and embed UX practices can be viewed as increasing the company’s UX maturity. To learn more about UX maturity and how to affect it, get in touch – we’d be happy to help.
Want to learn more?