The User Experience Practice (UxP) is ubiquitous. Usability (often labeled ‘UX’) has evolved from being perceived as a superficial “nice to have” to a core necessity that resonates across all levels of the organization.
UxP fulfills several roles
Our Role in Design
Implementation: At the most granular “nuts-and-bolts” level, we provide best practices, continuity, standards, design models workflow efficiency, responsiveness, branding.
We do ease of use, as well as ease of maintenance.
Our Role in the Team
Collaboration: When stakeholders say “What’s your process?”, they often want to know How can you make the Usability Practice part of how we do things? The focus is on Integration within the team’s culture. It’s often a balancing act between responsiveness and guideance.
The baseline is to get things under control.
Our Role in the Enterprise
This is Multi-Dimensional UX
At a very granular-product level, the Practice focuses on “dirt under the fingernails” usability solutions.:
- Do we use a dropdown or display a series of optionbuttons?
- Is it a list of steps or wizard?.
- How do we deal with multiple presentation platforms?
We implement Design Solutions
Many of these techniques are already accepted “knowns & norms“. They don’t necessarily need to be re-discovered or rigorously tested.
- They’re used in assessing a Site Evaluation and identifying the Content Inventory.
- They exist as standards and usage patterns, like the CSS Styleguide and Best Practices.
- They’re implemented in the Sitemap, in Wireframes, and in a Demo Site.
By the same token, we’re still working out some of the UX logistics of designing for a Mobile platform. Technology is a moving target.
Usability Design is an ongoing iterative process
UxP takes the customer information gathered by Marketing.
UxPdesigns a solution to the needs defined by Business.
UxP hands the model over to the Technical for implementation.
UxP presents the design for Stakeholderacceptance.
UxP ensures that the finished product conforms to Clientexpectations.
UxP champions Customer-centricdesign.
We are the Point of Integration
E-commerce may be the future, but software development is rarely the enterprise’s core business. Building a whole IT practice is a big corporate headache to begin with: The mechanics of producing software that works is no mean feat in itself. But the real competitive edge is defined by “usability” – the User Experience.
Many enterprises are now struggling with the challenge of making UxP an integral part of the business – not merely an afterthought. There are two schools of thought:
We need an independent, professional perspective.
Maintain an arm’s length, “consultancy” relationship with an external service bureau design shop.This option requires strong process and accountability. It’s based on effective liaison with stakeholders and and a sense of trustworthiness. The enterprise company maintains its flexibility as regards its ability to contract for design services and can concentrate on its core business.
We need to evangelize and educate from within.
Build knowledge and advocacy within the organization structure. This option requires a strong management committment to establish an internal design practice. The company must invest in infrastructure and the development of a knowledge base. It’s a slower sell. The IT department and the enterprise itself must evolve into a “professional” software production house. The implications for organizational change are significant.
Are you an Innie or are you an Outie?
Of course, it’s not necessarily an exclusive either/or solution, nonetheless the debate between “innie” and “outie” is still at the heart of the struggle to promote usability.
I’ve worked both sides and have to admit, I’m also of two minds about it :
Are we (UX / UI / Interaction Design folks) most effective when our profile is as an “external consultant” or as an “internal advocate“?
In either case, the most critical challenge for any business during the next decade is to implement UxP – as a Practice.
We are the Competitive Edge
What is the organization’s “maturity model” as regards Usability?
Is there a Usability department? Is there Usability advocacy at a high level?
Where does the Usability Practice reside?
- Is it under Technical development?
- Is it under Creative?
- Is it under anyone?
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