The shift: UX Designers as Business Consultants

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Information about The shift: UX Designers as Business Consultants

Published on February 13, 2014

Author: folletto



This is the deck of my presentation at Interaction 14.
Here's the video:

UX is a broad field and designers are increasingly playing a strategic role in many companies. Be that designer.

Businesses are increasingly adopting user-centered approaches to create experiences, moving UX design to be one of the core activities driving the company strategy and operations.

This is an incredibly valuable opportunity that we designers can take to step up and contribute to create the great experiences and services they envision, taking our vision, tools and understanding to a different level. But we need to learn the new skills to play at this table, a table that's often speaking a different language with a lot of politics and different stakeholders.


NIGHT.EU UX Redirector Advisor

Manifesto Ibridi


Who here already have a seat at the CxO / MD table?

1 / Frame 2 / Canvas 3 / Drawing

0 / Foundation

BARRIERS TO MAKE UX HAPPEN Consultant & agency attitudes Politics & organizational silos Lack of commitment 
 to UX Inertia and resistance to change Driven by technology & constraints Client lack of vision, strategy & businesscase Client doesn’t measure or understand the value of UX Lack of 
 budget Low stakeholder engagement Ineffective communication & persuasion Consultant skills & experience Lack of 
 time Lack of seniorlevel client sponsor for UX Lack of resources Client doesn’t understand UX processes Thanks to Jason Mesut Source: Making UX Happen survey of top 3 barriers (94 respondents)

My Client Does Not Understand Me

My Boss Does Not Understand Me

My ____ Does Not Understand Me

A story— a european telco 4 weeks project overtime overbudget frustration Solved with a 3 hour workshop

We love our craft, often more than results.

 Long days. 

We have met the enemy and he is us.

Different Reasons for Different People HUGE EGO IMPOSTOR SYNDROME

Early Red Flag: Any empty criticism against the client.

A design that doesn't get used is a failed design by definition.

— THE SHIFT — Use the core skills of designers on a different objective.

CONWAY’S LAW Any organization that designs a system will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure.

Designer Product

Designer Organization Product

1 / Frame MINDSET

ROI (abbr.) 1. Return On Investment The earning power of assets measured as the ratio of the net income (profit less depreciation) to the average capital employed (or equity capital) in a company or project. Expressed usually as a percentage, return on investment is a measure of profitability that indicates whether or not a company is using its resources in an efficient manner. For example, if the long-term return on investment of a company is lower than its cost-of-capital, then the company will be better off by liquidating its assets and depositing the proceeds in a bank. Also called rate of return, or yield. Bottom Line (def.) 1. Net Income After Tax 2. What is left after all is said and done. Learn Their Vocabulary Budget (noun) An estimate of costs, revenues, and resources over a specified period, reflecting a reading of future financial conditions and goals. One of the most important administrative tools, a budget serves also as a (1) plan of action for achieving quantified objectives, (2) standard for measuring performance, and (3) device for coping with foreseeable adverse situations. Scope Creep (def.) Small changes in a plan or project that necessitate other changes which lead to still more changes ... and so on. Risk Analysis (def.) 1. Corporate: As a component of risk management, it consists of (1) Identification of possible negative external and internal conditions, events, or situations, (2) Determination of cause-and-effect (causal) relationships between probable happenings, their magnitude, and likely outcomes, (3) Evaluation of various outcomes under different assumptions, and under different probabilities that each outcome will take place, (4) Application of qualitative and quantitative techniques to reduce uncertainty of the outcomes and associated costs, liabilities, or losses.

I need the 12 pages designed by Tuesday. Can you make the logo bigger? A week is enough right? Educate Can you do your design stuff on this deck? It would save us a lot of trouble if we didn’t have to pay you. This is her idea and I just think it’s too brilliant to be bothered by rules.

Set Expectations Here’s what you are going to get: ____

A story— cross-country team for USA client KPI re-alignment project no objective stated middlemen yes-men Counter-pitched with a new approach

2 / Canvas CONTEXT


Understand the Business Model Business Model Canvas

Business Needs Take the brief and identify the end-goal of the project in business terms.

Clients from Hell · January 14, 2014 CLIENT: We need you to design an app for our company. ME: Okay. What would you like the app to do? CLIENT: Keep me from losing my job.

Business Needs Hidden Request The untold truth about the project: personal interests, company politics, etc.

A story— a european bank 1+ years contract RFP identical to existing activities they wanted to replace existing agency internal power struggle We stepped out

POLITICS Who pays? Who gains? Who loses?


Marketing Client Agency One Team Development / IT Other


observe dot LOOP do think The Dot Loop, the simplest process possible (2010)



Campaigns Maintenance Backoffice Work Other units Impact Brand perception Systems Workflows Other projects

WRITE Write everything. Summarize & send to check. Have a clear call to action. Go for yes/no replies. If you use the text log against the client, you lost.

Visualize Everything by Enrico Baldetti

Keep Iterating Keep Setting Expectations

0 / Attitude + System Thinking 1 / Mindset · Vocabulary · Educate · Set Expectations 2 / Context · Business Model & Need · Hidden Request · Politics · One Team · Rhythm 3 / Environment · Impact · Write · Visualize

Is something missing? Contact me: @Folletto ;) ! (I’m writing a book and looking for case studies and feedback)

“ To complicate is easy, to simplify is hard. To complicate, just add, everyone is able to complicate. Few are able to simplify. Bruno Munari ”

Thanks. @Folletto

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