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 Practice.
1. Boost Sales OutReach
(I thought that might get your attention…)
Intitial Client Meetings
- Having a UXP professional involved from the very beginning focuses you on customer needs, identifies additional business opportunities up front and makes the sale
Preliminary Site Evaluation
- You must convince the client that you understand who they are and what they do (and make the effort to show it). It’s the reality check between who they think they are and what they actually present.
2. Corporate Identity / Marketing
- Make sure that your own presence reinforces the message. Not just splashy paint. Strut some usability.
Enhance your marketing materials
- Potential clients judge your potential by how you present yourself.
- You present your company as offering a range of solutions. UXP is where the rubber meets the road. Otherwise, it’s all just talk.
3. Enhance Internal Development
Implement Best Practices
- Organize Templates, Behaviors, Terminology & Stylesheets in Design Resource Center. You become efficient — and look good doing it.
Integrating Design as part of Process
- Internal negotiation, education & advocacy to bring management & staff up to speed on UXP
Documentation = Communication
- Many in your workforce are offshore and English is probably not their first language.
4. Client & Customer Relationship Management
- Good UI design goes a long way towards “fixing” legacy products and services.
- Quick response at the front end buys time for the back end coders and helps you firefight projects that are at risk. It’s a form of “disaster recovery”.
- Cement the long-term client relationship by providing “that warm fuzzy feeling”. 50,000 lines of code just doesn’t quite do that…
Documentation = Presentation
- It’s not just information — It’s presentation. A well-designed client document goes a long way towards instilling confidence.
- UXP bridges the cultural gap between MIS and Marketing departments. Deliver a well-designed product and Marketing will want to talk with you.
- “CRM” is a buzzword in good currency, a great concept and a terrific marketing point. The UXP discipline defines how you actually integrate CRM into your development schema.
- One Stop Shopping is the Competitive Edge. Put the term UXP on your website and see how many calls you get. Integrate UXP as a part of your solutions package and become a powerhouse.
- UXP means media.
- UXP means convergence
UXP is (literally) how you package it.
Metrics? We don’t need no steenking Metrics
Okay, It’s not that we don’t need them — Just that it’s difficult to come up with hard numbers. Everybody appreciates good design, but few companies know how to value it. Nonetheless, I’ve never seen a client reject — or even ignore – good design (after you’ve rubbed their noses in it). Once you’ve proven your stuff, clients manage to find the budget.
Priming the Pump
- “The first one’s free…” Volunteering a visual treatment early on in the process (s.a. a Preliminary Site Evaluation) pays immediate dividends.
“If you build it, they will come…”
In every engagement over the past 10 years I’ve always been asked to extend “that thing I do”. Based my initial work, I get asked to (roughly in order of likelihood):
- Give an “interface makeover” to other target projects
- Contribute to enterprise-wide design standards mandates (the corporate look, branding, best practices) • Come up with creative and Marketing-related solutions.
- Provide documentation guidelines and templates
- Implement cross-platform transformations (XML/XSL)
- Develop online help & training systems
- Conduct usability workshops/tests
Every engagement should include at least a 3-month design (i.e. UXP) module. Why? Because 3 months is the magic number right now. That buys the opportunity to prove your abilities.
This is a proposal that my Client should develop a dedicated Usability Practice as part of their service suite (first presented circa 2004)
© The Communication Studio LLC