Who, What and Why You Need a User Experience Design Team

We often get contacted by potential customers that know they need some kind of help designing their software product or website – but they aren’t always sure how a UX Team fits in. Sometimes a client may have their own development team that they have been trying to stretch into UX designers. Others have a graphic design team that they have been leaning on to fill the role of a UX Team. The most common tipping point that causes a client to finally reach out for help is when their product is either found to be unusable by its users or their site is not converting visitors into paying customers.

To help provide some guidance on who, what and why you may need a user experience design team, I’ve compiled the following from personal experiences we’ve had with our clients.

Who

A UX Team is typically comprised of one or more information architects, visual designers, usability testers, HTML/CSS designers and front-end developers. Often times, a single UX resource can handle one or more of these roles – but if you do not have any of these types of resources on your software or website development team, you should. The truth is, everyone on your project team should be focused on the User Experience but it’s important that you use people for their strengths and not their weaknesses.

What

So what exactly does a UX Team do and what do they deliver? The UX Team conducts visioning sessions, user interviews, user shadowing, research and analysis to gain a deep understanding of business and user requirements before it produces any tangible deliverables. Once the vision and direction of the project is fully understood, the UX Team can begin design. One of the first steps is Information Design, where card sorting exercises can be performed and site maps and user task flow diagrams are produced. From there, wireframes can be produced for all or key screen screens, which can then be tested with real end-users. Once you’ve reached a level of confidence in the design of your wireframes, the visual design can be created to further enhance the usability and overall brand perception of your product. Often times, the visual design can be in the form of Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop mockups; or they can be produced directly in HTML/CSS. Ultimately, the UX Team should produce a non-functional prototype that the client, users and development team can click through and experience as if it were a live product. In the end, all the HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and image assets should all be packaged in a UX Asset Library that the development team can leverage to build the final product.

Why

To the users of your software product, the User Experience IS the product. If you don’t place a lot of focus on designing it properly, you are not placing a lot of focus on creating a successful product. So, just as you would not have a UX designer develop your back-end code and database, you should not have your back-end developers designing or developing your front-end user experience. We like to say that if the work involves anything that displays on the screen whether it’s as small as changing a label name or as big as adding a new set of screens, someone from the UX Team should be involved.

 

 

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