Last Spring, I came across an article entitled Better Revenue Through UX out on Adaptive Path’s site. After spending the months before giving my Learn The Business Behind the IA Business talk, I realized running into this piece was fate. The article features a video of Melissa Matross’s MX Conference talk, and I highly recommend watching. But today’s piece is not just about promoting a great speaker and their great content. You see, once I saw this post I had even more evidence for many of the claims I make in the Learn the Business talk. And that is what I hope to share with you today. But first, allow me to back up a bit.
Lack of UX leadership in an organization is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, epidemic to plague the User Experience community. Even though the role of Chief Experience Officier has been popping up in companies more than ever, many UX practitioners are still seeing the consequences of this lack of UX leadership plague. All we UXers want is representation at an executive level, but it seems that will never happen. In fact, sometimes it can feel like we’ll never really “get a seat the table”.
Further, the problems we see with a lack of UX leadership, even though well voiced, are still very much alive. First, because we don’t usually see someone with a solid UX background sitting “at the table” it is impossible for UX thinking to flow through the rest of the organization. Thus, there is no one with a big enough budget, or with enough power, advocating for real UX, and this literally stifles all movement towards creating a company that extends a great user experience to its users.
Second, without a real UX leader who knows how to grow a solid user experience, organizations try to stop the bleeding with process changes and new trends. They thing that shortening the UX process, putting UX into Agile, or making UX deliverables less formal (and anything else you can think of that is a quick fix), without making an organizational change at the same time, will guarantee a solid user experience for their users. These organizations only see the face of UX (I.e. The interface) as the experience, and, once they’ve created that “experience” more quickly than before, they assume that a great user experience can be achieved. With no one there, in power, to disprove these claims, the Wireframe Machine rages on.
But dear reader, do not fear, for there is hope. There is a way that we can begin to get that seat at the table, and stop our organizations from seeing UX as just a pretty face. That way? We Learn the Business Behind Our Business, and once we do that, we use our knowledge and UX expertise to not only affect our businesses, but to prove that effect. And, in her talk, Melissa shows us how she did just that (Read the article and view the video here).
Melissa knew her business, she knew her data, and she knew both so well that she was able to use creativity and UX know how to couple business need and user need into a new way to generate revenue for the company. Without having a in-depth knowledge of her data and business, she would not have been about to do this. And, THIS… this is what User Experience really is to me. It’s not just about the users, it is creating a partnership between users, business and technology. But, Melissa didn’t just stop there. Once she saw her ideas make real business value, she talked about it! She spread the word and made sure every knew that UX was at the center of this success
Once we start to do the same, we’ll see changes in leaps and bounds. Our organizations will WANT user experience in a leadership role, becuase doing so will just be better for business. Having more UX leadership will help us to extend great UX throughout our companies, and even more to our users.
Sir Issac Newton’s First Law of Motion (also known as the Law of Inertia) states “An object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force. An object in motion remains in motion, and at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.”. My advice to you today is to be that outside force. Be the one that changes your organizations trajectory and speed. Learn the Business Behind your business, and then use your new knowledge to create real UX change in your organization. Lastly, be sure to publicize that change and provide UX the credit it deserves.
[…] in our ways, and if we don’t start moving, our industry will never change. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Newton didn’t […]
What is helpful is sharing more case studies, like what Melissa Matross provided. And more level-setting around how long does it take to make real impact. Depending on your position, it may take a year to understand the domain and the business culture’s nuances and tackle ux debt. Then another year to get in and make real business strategy change/revenue.
Great Article Lis!
I think in addition to being Learning the Business behind our Business we need to continue to put ourselves out there. Whether organizing an internal organization brown bag lunch speaker series or just having lunch with those who have power over the decisions on our products. In Scott Berkun’s talk “The Five Most Dangerous Ideas” (http://vimeo.com/63902503) he references the idea of in room power vs out of room power when it comes to getting a “seat at the table”. I agree with him that sometimes we focus so much energy on being included in on meetings and not enough on just plain old trying to influence product decisions outside of those meetings where more often then not is where the decisions are made.
Completely agree… Great points!!
Lis, nice article (like most of them).
The main problem I meet when trying to include UX in business is that most managers think they don’t need anyone specialized in UX.
“Oh, yes, usability… very important; our designeres take care of it, and we offer our users what they need”
Thanks!! (And thanks for continue to read and comment :-)).
Great point… that is always something that I hear as well. I’m trying, at least in my own practice, to think of better ways to sell my importance. Would love to hear if you’ve found any.