This is a guest post from David Barker.
Why is it people are so keen to embrace user testing but reject other user experience design techniques? I have asked myself this question on many occasions. Especially given that the full potential of user testing can only be exploited within a wider UX strategy.
My first thoughts were that it is because user testing can be performed without making any change to the project lifecycle. It can be completed independently without affecting the project plan. In his book The inmates are running the asylum Alan Cooper makes a similar statement. He says: “The main reason why empirical user testing has been widely accepted in the high-tech business is that it fits easily into the existing sequence”.
The familiarity with testing often brings a certain acceptance with it
Testing is an activity that technology companies are already familiar with. This familiarity often brings a certain acceptance with it, while other methods are met with skepticism. Beside, new user experience techniques often require time earlier in a project lifecycle. Product developers often believe that the sooner they start developing, the sooner the product will be finished. Time and budget constraints are driving factors on most projects. To include design time for the development of personas, scenarios, user flows, etc. is a hard sell.
How can you justify UX testing methods as part of a project lifecycle? Michele Ide-Smith presented a great talk on how to embed UX within an organisation: Winning the hearts and minds: how to embed UX from scratch in a large organisation.
How to Embed Other UX Methods
Here is a selection of approaches that will convince your project manager of the benefits of UX techniques.
Find a sponsor within the organisation. Someone who will represent UX at a higher level can help you a lot to drive change.
When you get the opportunity on a project to incorporate UX, hold it up as an exemplar, don’t be afraid to shout about it. Don’t get frustrated if things don’t go as fast as you would like them to. Once you have publicised your first win, your efforts surely will pay off.
Find out how your organisation measures the success of a project, provide evidence of how incorporating UX can help increase these. Examples of these measures could include user satisfaction, quality and time.
These approaches have helped me before, but I’m sure there are other ways to convince someone of an integrated UX approach. Do you have any suggestions? Let’s trade some ideas on this!