“How many UX designers does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
“Well… it depends…”
On my very first work day as a UX designer, more than 10 years ago, my new-to-be colleagues told me this joke. But it actually turns out to be true. When customers ask us a certain question, we usually answer it this way:
Do we need a native app or a web site? - Well, it depends
How much will it cost to improve our website? - It depends
Do we need to interview 5 or 10 users? - Guess what… it depends
At first sight, it depends may not seem like a very helpful answer, but it’s an excellent invitation for a fruitful discussion about users, their needs and the overall experience one wants to offer. So we tend to answer it depends quite a lot.
But not always. Today UX has become a core competence and companies are frantically building their own UX teams. So we are getting new questions like:
What are the UX skills I need to bring into my team?
Although I probably could answer again it depends, I’m not going to. Instead, I’ll ask 6 to-the-point questions to help you decide which skills you need to build a successful UX team.
1. Are we building the right thing?
Any attempt to offer a great user experience always starts with these 3 inquiries:
The overlap is where the sweet spot is. The UX strategist will bring all stakeholders in your company together, gets them to answer these inquiries and aligns them to take action accordingly. Because the one thing you definitely want to avoid is to build something that fails miserably because you’ve spent months building the wrong thing.
Favorite technique: value proposition canvas
2. Who are we building it for?
A great user experience always starts with the user. The UX researcher will dive into spreadsheets with data, analytics and surveys in order to paint a picture of who your users are. The researcher is not a desk person: at the first occasion, they will get out of the building to observe users, in the real world.
The researcher will then make his findings come to life in personas. By giving your user a human face, your team will start to develop the empathy it needs to start looking from the user’s perspective.
Favorite activity: talking to users
3. How can we improve the overall experience?
Being a UX expert myself, I like to describe my role as follows: translate the conclusions of the UX strategist and researcher into a tangible concept. This lays the foundation for the work of the UI designer who will refine this in detailed mockups.
Furthermore, the UX expert will make sure that your website or tool fits into the overall customer journey.
Favorite output: experience maps and service blueprints
4. How can we make it more intuitive?
The UI designer is all about intuitive interactions and user-friendliness. The UI designer defines the screen layout and incorporates all interactions. His or her main purpose in life is to eliminate all possible friction. To that end, the UI designer creates a clickable prototype and submits it to the mother of all stress tests: a round of user testing.
Favorite tools: AxurePro
5. How can we make it sparkle?
Usefulness and user-friendliness come first, always. But today users expect more: it simply works better when it is pretty. Through the proper use of text, images, colors and whitespace the visual designer adds character and personality to what you are building.
Favorite term: pixel-perfect
6. How can we keep our users engaged?
UX writing is used to connect with users, at every stage of the user experience, via user-facing touchpoints. First of all, the UX writer makes sure that your customers understand immediately how your product or service may benefit them, for instance through a clear and attractive description on your website or in the app store. The writer also makes sure your customers can start working with your product or service in no time. Think guided tours, short tutorials, tooltips and much more.
Once you’ve got your users on board, the UX Writer keeps your customers engaged via storytelling, relevant content and elements of gamification. In short, they guarantee a long-term relationship with your user.
Favorite sport: writing
Does this mean you need to hire 6 different people before you have a real UX team? Of course not. The roles above are archetypes, used for clarification. In reality, the different skills are not so sharply distinguished.
Through years of hard work experienced UX people typically build up a thorough understanding of the whole domain of UX and are perfectly capable of performing multiple tasks in different roles. So if you can find strong profiles you’ll achieve equal or sometimes better results with only 2 or 3 instead of 6 people.
And this might prove to be your main challenge: finding the right people. Because of the growing importance of user experience, people with UX skills are in high demand and it may take you some time to identify, convince and hire the right persons. And since a lot of people consider themselves ‘UX experts’, it can be a daunting and time-consuming challenge to separate the wheat from the chaff.
But you have all this UX work that needs to be done now! So what do you do?
Why not let an experienced UX agency like Human Interface Group save the day?
UX agencies mostly work project-based (they come in, get the job done, and leave again with everybody happy). But as the importance of UX is growing, new models are being created. One of those is integrating UX agencies and internal teams. In that case, the agency outsources its people to be part of the team as long as it is needed.
It doesn’t matter if it’s for the long term or only for a couple of months, an experienced UX agency will not only get the work done, it will also bring 3 extra advantages to your team:
In view of the growing importance of the user experience your customers are expecting from you, you are absolutely right in making UX a core competence of your company. Building your own UX team may be a serious challenge. So why not let a UX agency help you out and inject some cutting-edge UX in your team or project?
Are you wondering how we can help you build your UX team? We’d love to talk about it. Get in touch.
Tommy De Kimpe
UX Expert & Project Manager