Leading UX professional and Zedko Director Oli sutton gives his views on what to look for in a UX candidate or agency.
Promoting the benefits of UX has always been a tedious but necessary task to allow for the appropriate budget and client engagement when laying the foundations of any forthcoming project. It therefore comes with great pleasure that UX is finally becoming an integral part of the digital landscape, but now UX has become so popular it has attracted UX Chameleons who have jumped on the UX band wagon.
What is a UX Chameleon I hear you ask? Well a UX Chameleon is an agency or candidate that has miraculously changed its appearance to look like a UX professional.
So in this crowded market place how do you spot a UX Chameleon from a UX professional? Well in the absence of a lie detector test let’s look at the fundamentals.
The skill set within this profession is varied but at a minimum you would want to have had exposure to as many of the following roles as possible: Visual Design, Information Architecture, Motion Design, Copy Writing, and Industrial design.
When embarking on a new digital project you are placing the UX practice at the heart of the operation so communication skills are essential. You are looking for someone who will get under the bonnet of your practice to identify the integral process that your end user is engaged in to achieve their goal.
This can only be achieved through good research and it’s my view that the contractor or agency that will come up with the solutions must be conducting the insight, therefore experience in Diary Studies, user interviews, stake holder interviews, focus groups, Online surveys, social media research, Ethnography and card sorting are all very important.
Beware of the territorial UX’er, typically a sign of inexperience. A territorial UX’er will fight tooth and nail to get their ideas through and won’t listen or change a thing. Digital design and development is a collaborative process and thus needs input not only from the end users but from the stake holders, visual designers, developers and anyone and everyone involved in the project. The best solutions are found through many iterations and those that don’t listen or amend their design can be a disaster, not only does this stagnate innovation but can also cause conflict.
Unfortunately this problem is also rife in some of the NMA top 100 agencies not through inexperience but through arrogance. Not listening the stake holder and end users but pushing concepts that promote themselves.
So now you know the fundamentals needed for good UX and what to look out for in bad practice, but what is it that a UX Candidate or Agency can offer you that places them above the rest? Well, the key concept that should be at the forefront of every UX engagement should be, RETURN ON INVESTMENT for you or your clients.
We live in a digital age that is changing by the day, uncomplicated, intuitive, and engaging user experiences should be a given.
Pioneering UX practitioners should be looking to: question the norm, improve conversion rates, reduce homepage drop-offs, increase traffic and gain market share, reduce help centre phone calls, reduce end user task time, improve brand loyalty, reduce development work, reduce project releases, add innovative features remove dormant features, promote cloud and social integration.