Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Building and Managing a Successful User Experience Team

Putting the team together...

"Producing a usable design takes time, money, and resources. It also requires the User Experience team’s dedication to focus on customer needs throughout the entire design process.

Knowing how to identify and communicate the value of a User Experience (UX) project will substantially help it get approved and supported by an organization. Most organizations we work with understand the need for UX efforts, yet they still struggle with how to best incorporate the team into the development process.

UIE’s Christine Perfetti recently interviewed Sarah Bloomer and Susan Wolfe, two premier User Experience experts, to discuss how organizations can make their UX practices a success. Here’s what they had to say:

We’ve worked with many clients who are struggling to sell User Experience (UX) practices within their organization. Do you have an idea why many of these UX initiatives fail?

When User Experience projects fail, it’s often because the UX team took the wrong approach to the project. One common pitfall UX teams make is when they assume that everyone in the organization values UX expertise as much as they do. They won’t - particularly if you describe the benefits simply from the users’ perspective.

Teams need to avoid the role of evangelist for user centered design. For example, let’s just consider the IT folks within an organization. If they’re not familiar with our field, their first reaction will be that this “UX stuff” will delay their projects and hamper their ability to meet their deadlines. These concerns are real because their performance isn’t measured in terms the success of the user interface. Instead, members of the UX team need to demonstrate the value of in terms of outcomes that matter to IT – such as less rework and the ability to develop reusable code. Each stakeholder group has their own set of priorities, which needs to be understood and addressed.

Another common pitfall is when a new UX team promotes yet another methodology on top of all the other methodologies within the organization – a development methodology, a change management system, a quality system, etc. Most organizations we know are weary of the ‘methodology du jour’ and want to get on with churning out what they need to churn out. Therefore, the best approach is to do UX ‘by stealth’. Figure out how to fit in what you need to do within the context of what already happens – that will make it seem much less imposing and more beneficial to all concerned."   (Continued via UIE)   [Usability Resources]

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