How UX Got a Seat at the Table
Every new discipline requires some time and evangelism to gain a foothold. And it’s worth admitting that user experience has been it’s own worst enemy. Go onto SlideShare and you’ll find at least 20 presentations titled “What is UX?” This confusion stems from at least three factors:
- UX encompasses many disciplines, as evidenced by the intentionally overwrought chart below.
- UX practitioners hail from any one of these disciplines, and bring to it their own personal mix of competencies.
- Within Commerce projects (key UX disciplines highlighted below) every team member must assert themselves within existing team structures and processes.
At OgilvyOne, Customer Engagement lies at the core of Continuous Commerce, and we believe that UX, which at its foundation is focused on the customer, provides a central role. That’s why we’ve defined how various UX team members are brought to bear within each project phase, and pinpointed user experience as a crucial component of our post-launch efforts as well. In fact, every project team now includes someone from user experience.
Defining the Practice
UX is equal parts Usability and Desirability. On one end of the spectrum UX is responsible for ease-of-use, a familiar concept. However on the other end of the spectrum we have the emotional connection at the heart of every interaction. Let’s call that joy-of-use. This must be supported, in the interactive space, by every single element of the interface, from how the buttons look to how fast the page loads. Everyone can remember completing a standard online form, clicking “Submit,” and proceeding, error-free, to a thank-you page. You probably thought,Wow, that was easy, and maybe you even smiled. That’s good UX.
Defining the Team
Each member of our UX Team brings a mix of right-brain and left-brain thinking. From our user researchers to information architects to content strategists to user-interface designers to front-end developers, the success of their work is based on a unique blend of art and science. Each member of our team can switch between either side of the same coin – from “what are the user’s needs?” to “what are our business goals?” Or from “what are the customer touchpoints?” to “how do we measure success?” Each side informs the other, and the right solution lies somewhere in between.
Defining the Process
Because UX includes this wide range of capabilities, you’ll find team members at nearly every phase of a project’s life cycle. In the discovery phase, we’ll be researching customer behaviors, creating personas, and running content inventory and competitive analyses, all of which will result in the project’s goal definition. In the design phase, we’re building site maps and wireframes, migrating existing assets, and writing new content. User-interface designers and front-end developers are creating every page, feature, and functionality of the site—and if we’re worth our snuff, we’re testing, prototyping, and iterating in an ongoing partnership with the user-research team. We weave a customer-centric philosophy throughout everything we create.
UX as a Business Driver
Two unsung heroes of UX are optimization and innovation, and, like many aspects of user experience, they can be viewed as opposite ends of a spectrum. For commerce project launches in particular, optimizing to improve conversion requires the assessment of multiple sets of KPIs, done in close collaboration with data/analytics. UX is then responsible for designing solutions and partnering closely with technology to deploy edits and enhancements.
And although we are focused on the minutiae of every measurable interaction point on a site, UX requires a macro view as well. Most of the products and services referenced as recent hallmarks of innovation, from the flywheel on the first iPod to the ease of the Uber app, are advancements in user experience. This has helped make UX a familiar term, and customers have grown to expect it. So a successful Continuous Commerce operation doesn’t get off the ground without us. Good UX has become a universal requirement.