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Jun 20, 2011: 1 UX lesson for your C-level friends

Quick: you have the undivided attention of your organization's senior leaders for the next ten minutes. What one thing would you teach them about user experience?

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Comment: Lorelei (Jun 20, 2011)

1) if the experience is good, no one will notice

2) it's about perceived satisfaction, not how long it takes to do something

3) you need users to help you determine and design what that experience is

4) the best experiences come from collaboration across the entire company

Oh heck, that's 4.

Comment: Chris Thorne (Jun 20, 2011)

I would teach them to ask and find answers for who, what, when, where, why and how. I would also teach how to write a user story , and explain ux is a way of thinking that can be learnt and applied in any situation.

Comment: Ales (Jun 20, 2011)

That user experience makes a lot of business sense.

Comment: Karen McGrane (Jun 20, 2011)

They don't understand their customers, because user behavior online evolves faster than they can keep up. This prevents them from meeting customer needs.

Comment: James (Jun 20, 2011)

That it's not just about online. Online experiences are the entry point for most of your customers, so first impressions are vital, but that the entire end-to-end customer experience is defined by all interactions customers have with your organization.

Comment: Jean-François Petit (Jun 20, 2011)

10 minutes? Yikes! OK.

UX is a process that will eventually become your lifeblood, your oxygen. **It is not an option.** Better fess up now and bite the bullet. Start listening to your users/customers/troublemakers immediately. Talk to your salespeople, customer service reps and find out what's *really* going on. Hire at least one full-time person with real UX experience and start building goodwill and bridges with the whole online/offline team, including content people and coders. Be inclusive, leave no one out. You're in for a looong ride.

My 10 minutes are up.

Comment: Austin Govella (Jun 20, 2011)

The more time allowed, the bigger the ROI.

Comment: james fenton (Jun 20, 2011)

I would explain to them that UX is not a bolt on after thought in product development. It is not just a token term for appearing to listen to users. It needs to be there from the start, from the very first contact with the commissioning client. It should then support all stages of development and hold the hand of all parties involved, right up to release and often or not, beyond.

Comment: Andrew Spies (Jun 20, 2011)

I would point out that good UX is basically a running dialogue with the user, a good conversation if you will. Whereby two parties are exchanging information both with similar goals. One is looking for info, the other looking to provide, one asks, one answers, and so on... And if the conversation is good, the UX is good, the user is then satisfied and business profits. Simple.

Comment: John Rizzo (Jun 20, 2011)

I've learned that you have to speak their language...show them numbers on how UX improves customer experience, which then adds to the bottom line. They won't understand anything having to do with UX until they see the numbers and how it can be a benefit to that bottom line. Not to sound harsh, but most senior leaders use the buzz words these days (which is a good start) without really knowing what they mean. My boss (a senior leader) still refers to usability testing as user acceptance testing. It's our job as UX'ers to teach UX and what it means.

Comment: Reto List (Jun 20, 2011)

One thing, C-level? I would tell them that improvements in user experience, when properly applied, will lead to higher customer satisfaction and higher conversion rates.

Comment: Peter Boersma (Jun 20, 2011)

1. understand your users. Marketing knows how to compel people to buy your products/services; UX knows how to design so they'll tell their friends about it.

2. understand the context. Customer Service knows when the product/service does the wrong thing at the wrong time; UX knows what you should do to prevent that.

3. understand the medium. developers know about enterprise servers, API's, screen resolution, and uptime; UX knows how users feel about using the machines we send them to.

Comment: Edward Vielmetti (Jun 20, 2011)

I'd emphasize the customer satisfaction part of the equation, and add that if you view the problem from this angle then you should already be doing routine customer satisfaction surveying to asses and improve overall system performance.

It may be that the UX needs identified are not external and customer facing, but rather are internal to systems used for management or customer service and by making them better (easier to use, more responsive, etc) that you can provide a better result.

Comment: Will Parker (Jun 20, 2011)

Good UX is always the implementation and embodiment of a strategic vision that advances your audience and your product forward — together.

Defending your advance *must* be an integral part of your UX process. Don't let your clients, internal or external, divert your designs from your goals.

When it becomes obvious that you and your client cannot agree on a change request, have the honesty to inform your client - in detail - of the likely consequences for the development process and the user's experience.

Comment: HBev (Jun 20, 2011)

User Experience is about the company’s bottom line...your customer's purchasing choice, repeat orders, brand recognition...it's about the money in your pocket at the end of the day. It is about your decision to increase employee productivity, decrease costs (for example, call center support time) and measure performance of your site, service, and product. Will you make an intelligent hiring decision and invest in your company’s financial success? If you want to learn how to implement User Experience practices in your company to meet business objectives, let’s talk about the next steps.

Comment: Kyle Soucy (Jun 20, 2011)

I wouldn't teach them anything about UX in 10 mins. I would play a clip from research with their customers or research with customers of their competitors. That would tell them more about the value of UX and their business than I could in 10 minutes and I bet they'd want to hear a lot more.

Comment: Chris Palle (Jun 20, 2011)

User Experience not something we create or design. It's a shared moment between our customer and us or our products. And every element of our business must somehow culminate to an extraordinary experience for the consumers of our {product/service}. User Experience is strategic. It's not an afterthought and it's not something you do with wireframes and flow diagrams. User Experience is something that should be considered throughout the entire organization. From the receptionist to the mail guy, from the junior-intern to you, Mr. or Mrs. CEO, from the cooks in the back to the servers who face the customer in the front- everyone has a role in what becomes the final end-user experience.

My guess is they'd want to know how we do it and to that my response:

Understanding through Compassion, Empathy, Dialogue, and Relationships. To sum it up in one commandment: Caring. When you care, you take note. You turn those notes into actions to serve the customer and meet their needs at any cost. Is the research more costly? Perhaps, but the return is unbeatable. Too touchy-feely for you? I'll be back with the data that supports the positive impact personnel satisfaction has on repeat business.

Comment: Will Sansbury (Jun 20, 2011)

UX is inherently strategic. It is deeply concerned with what to build and for whom, not just how. If UX can't influence product strategy, it can only delive a tiny fraction of it's potential returns.

Comment: Daniel Szuc (Jun 20, 2011)

Find a shared language towards delivering fantastic experiences for yourself, your staff and your customers.

Comment: Andrew (Jun 20, 2011)

Lou said "teach" not "tell", yet everyone here has listed claims and assertions that would be tough to back up given 10 months. In ten minutes abstract claims of value are likely to actively damage credibility, not increase it. I'm with Kyle: show them ten minutes of users on videos struggling to use a product and tell them you've got a plan to address the problems they just saw.

Comment: Stephen P. Anderson (Jun 21, 2011)

In the spirit of "teaching," and not "telling," I'd ask a simple question:

"What do people have to DO in order for (y)our business to be successful?"*

This shifts the conversation from the familiar (business goals like cost savings or increased margins) to the unfamiliar: (user) behavior.

Once a connection between business and behavioral goals is established, it's much easier to talk about most of the things UX is concerned with. That, and I've found "behavior" to be a universal common denominator that most groups can rally around.


*credit to Joshua Porter for this question!

Comment: Peter Boersma (Jun 21, 2011)

@Andrew: Lou asked *what* we would want to teach, now *how*.

I have stated what I wanted to teach, and would have to think hard how to teach it.

A clip of a user failing to use a product/service may very well be a way to teach executives the lesson. A 5-slide presentation, a compelling story, a line of questioning (Jared Spool's 3 questions about vision, feedback and culture), or a discussion about what they think they know, might all do the trick.

Comment: Alex (Jun 21, 2011)

Get the CEO to man the customer support line for a bit. That tends to quickly bring into focus what's wrong with your product / service.

Anyway, it works for us.

~alex

Comment: Marcin (Jun 21, 2011)

Just one crucial thing. Designing user experience is art and prectice of defining problems. All those gray boxes are second-rate.

Comment: Avi Rappoport (Jun 21, 2011)

Kyle Soucy's idea really strikes a chord with me: what a great way to bring home the problem with a visceral impact. A video can go beyond the computer screen and show some of the other aspects of UX.

Comment: Jill Jensen (Jun 21, 2011)

You may *think* you know what the customer wants, but until you talk to an actual customer, you don't. Your great new feature is leaving customer service to sweep up on the back end.

Comment: mark thristan (Jun 22, 2011)

"It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it."

Comment: ed stojakovic (Jun 22, 2011)

Teach them how to know their users, where behaviour speaks louder than words.

Not just pain with existing products (video of someone using existing product) but opportunities for new features/products/services (video of user in context of their industry).

And how UX can help with its methods and passions.

Comment: Chris Cavallucci (Jun 22, 2011)

I would teach them how to empathize. Kyle's video of users in pain is an excellent idea, but it only shows half of the experience. Same for taking customer support calls. Perhaps another video showing users delighted by a product or service may cover the other half of the experience. Seeing users succeed or enjoy a competitive product/service could influence C-level folks, too.

Empathy can be taught through shared experiences. However, since user experience is very *personal* it's quite difficult to teach what it's like to be in another person's shoes.

I might show a few clips from the movie MacHEADS. :)

Comment: Tim Caynes (Jun 24, 2011)

I'm with Kyle and Andrew, although I'd actually sit them in a viewing room for 10 minutes with their eyes taped open, droog-correction style. I don't believe there is a more powerful way to learn about how user experience practices enable us to understand and appreciate user's needs in order to do the rest of the stuff to do to save the world.
Chris is right - it potentially only shows half the experience - but in 10 minutes, that's the half I'd go with.

Comment: Steffen Klein (Jun 26, 2011)

Many C-levels think, they already know about the value of UX. What I would like to teach them is that UX is not only about the "how" (flows, structure, visuals) but most importantly about the "what". More often that not the product is already defined before UX is involved.

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