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After the novelty of finding this SO section wore off (and being rightfully shamed of asking a duplicate question), I'd like to rephrase this question so it would target what I feel is a gap in answers currently available:

What is the most efficient way of communicating the need for UX focus as part of the existing dev process and/or corporate values?

Currently (for the past N months) the managerial response has been along the lines of "we're looking into it but we have no available resources for the foreseeable future". This is especially frustrating in the ultimately end-user-driven field (think outsourced online banking with blows and whistles), where more engagement means more commission.

There are great answers out there on figuring out ROI, collaborating with a Domain Expert when there is an established UX team and a fairly close question on highlighting value in UX focus.

These answers seem to lack specifics of an efficient approach that is likely to succeed. Putting together relevant numbers is a time-consuming task (unless you're making things up :) and we do not have the functionality in place to track things like "25% of the users give up on the application half-way" or "50% of the users do not visit the site more than once a month and when they do, they only check their balance because the main menu is unusable"

  • do you put in extra effort in the current role and hope that the benefits introduced would prompt inclusion of a formal UX team in the future?
  • do you gather relevant data and put it together into a presentation that covers UX in-depth and finishes with something catchy like "every $1 spent on UX now would give the company $10 over the next two years in increased revenue?
  • do you focus on more trivial, less scientific, but marketable points like "UX is hip, clients will throw money at us if they learn we have a UX department"
  • do you focus on the competition A, who already has a UX department and seem to be doing great?
  • do you engage the team to the point where everyone is excited about improved usability and starts paying it more attention on an existing project - with the intention of adding a formalized role to the department in the future?

On top of the points above, would you do research/trial build on your own time or try and convince the management of the need to dedicate a couple weeks to research now, so as to have accurate data that the ultimate decision could be based on?

In my mind, an efficient approach means minimal wasted effort (both personal and company time) to achieve the goal (conception of a UX team in a function-driven environment)

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oh great...thanks Jon..after I just wrote a really long answer :) –  Mervin Johnsingh Mar 18 '12 at 8:37
    
Hi @o.v. I've closed this question because there are similar questions already on the site (see designerguy's answer and the linked duplicate). Also this is more of a discussion topic than an answerable question. As the FAQ says; If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much however I hope this doesn't put you off asking more questions here, and I hope the linked answers give you some good insight. –  JonW Mar 18 '12 at 8:40
    
@MFrank2012 sorry Frank, but this question has been asked before in a variety of different ways. However it's only Closed, not Deleted so anything written here will still remain, and if the OP is able to edit the question to bring it more in-line with the site then we can easily re-open it. –  JonW Mar 18 '12 at 8:47
    
No worries,its just something which i face at work,so I had to respond to it –  Mervin Johnsingh Mar 18 '12 at 8:47
    
@JonW: np, thanks. I guess I got overly excited by finding this... part? of StackExchange. I'll see if I can pull it together inline with your first comment. –  o.v. Mar 18 '12 at 9:26
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

For starters, welcome to my world :). Coming to how I normally handle similar situations at work :

  1. Identify the management who is willing to listen to you: In my experience, Most managers still consider user experience as the same as UI or content management ( I had a manager who thinks all that was to user experience was proper grammar and pretty colors). However you do have a few managers who are willing to listen or think ahead with coming up with new development models which will fine tune the process and result in better results over time. So your first step is to identify these people and bring them over to your way to thinking

  2. You got some managers on your side,but the top management isn't still convinced : You might have been successful in step 1 and got some people over to your side but your challenge lies in the fact that the top management who have the highest weightage in a project still don't believe UX is critical to a project.Without getting them on to your side, your chances of making this project successful are remote. There are usually three approaches which have worked (somewhat) for me :

    1. Create a use case study : Create a use case study of a project which hasn't worked out too well or has run over budget or schedule and come up an analysis of how an user centered approach could have helped prevent that by incorporating an user centered approach rather than a create mockup --> create build -->show client --> go back and completely redesign everything approach . While creating this case study ensure you cover the following aspects for sure

      1. How can a user experience focus be integrated into the process without changes to the time line and the budget (reading up on Lean UX will help)
      2. What are the potential benefits in terms of better client satisfaction or conversion rates?
      3. What are the baby steps we need to take to take our current process forward so that we can quickly bring about a user experience focus in our design methodologies
      4. Talk about potential savings in terms of money (if you know by how much the budget was stretched) or in terms of time and man hours spent
    2. Talk to them : Generally most management are willing to listen or at least like to think of themselves as forward thinkers. So appeal to their ego and tell them you have an idea by which you believe you can improve the general effectiveness of the services and you would like to talk to them. However while talking to them,do ensure you have thought over all potential questions which might turn up and if possible, also keep a small case study ready for them to read about (prepare one or use one from the internet e.g. Amazon's 300 million dollar button). Also if you have the bandwidth ,offer to take up ownership of a small project and drive it forward with an user centered approach and highlight what the potential benefits were.Lastly you can always use the example of highly successful companies who have a very UX focused approach (Apple anyone )

    3. Conduct a learning hour or information session : This might be totally useless if you are in an environment where one person has the power to veto everyone's opinions but conducting an learning hour/information session for all the managers/management together can something facilitate healthy conversation which would help you emphasize your point more clearly with support from people who are senior from you. The group approach can also help convince people as opposed to just trying to sell it to them individually

  3. Bring to the team to your side: Now honestly speaking, I am not sure if this should be the third step or the first step but I guess it could be interchangeable. But having the team on your side and willing to provide inputs on how the process UX design process could be integrated into their process model without too much overhead (and potentially reduce work) can be a real life saver in trying to convince the management since no one would want to spend a lot of man hours in sending people for training or diverting them away from projects just because someone wants to try out a process.Also it makes it easier for you to sell your ideas since there might be some last minute resistance like "Sure,this sounds great..but honestly we don't have time for this..."

  4. If all of this doesn't work,look for a new job: I am not joking about this :)

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This... is a fantastic answer! I guess the least I could do now is chisel the original question to a state where it be more specific so your reply will be seen by thousands! –  o.v. Mar 18 '12 at 9:24
    
@o.v. Yeah look at the other questions and highlight what how your question is different and the unique challenges you are facing and restructure the question that way –  Mervin Johnsingh Mar 18 '12 at 21:31
    
@o.v. Can you mark one of the solutions as a best answer if you have got the responses you are looking for? –  Mervin Johnsingh Mar 25 '12 at 8:54
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There is a lot already covering this topic:

See:

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+1 for great links being linked to, especially the IBM one on user-centered design - www-01.ibm.com/software/ucd/ucd.html#whatisucd –  o.v. Mar 28 '12 at 22:25
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There are just 6 types of persuasive arguments (per the iconic work of Robert Cialdini):

  1. Reciprocation - "I did this for you. Could you return the favor?"
  2. Commitment and Consistency - "You've said/done this before. Are you a flake & are changing your mind?"
  3. Social Proof - "Your friend Mike is already doing this."
  4. Liking - "I look good & am nice to you. Could you do this for me?"
  5. Authority - "I'm your boss. You must do this." or "I'm a world-renowned expert. You really should do this."
  6. Scarcity - "There's very little time left to do this."

Obviously, some of these principles, such as scarcity and reciprocation, won't be as effective in a work environment where there's a need to convince a higher-up on changing the workflow.

Yet, there's no silver bullet to get your way because everyone apparently doesn't react to the persuasion techniques the same way. The study conducted by TU Eindhoven and Stanford University that found that most people are consistent (not directly related to the persuasion principle) in the types of arguments they accept. Some always refute authoritative statements, others don't care about what others think of them, another group might not keep their word, etc. The study also found that applying too many techniques at once has no effect.

Thus, you should start by figuring out what motivates your bosses. Then, pick the approaches that fit their profiles and present your case:

  • If they are competitive, use social proof of competitors pushing UX.
  • If they listen more to people they like, figure out how to get on their good side or get people already there to help you.
  • If your company is numbers-oriented, create an authoritative case study.

Finally, if nothing helps, as @MFrank2012 has said, it'll be the time to look for a new job.

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One good way to approach this is find out which section in the company has the most problem with users. This could be the customer support (that have to answer all the user complaint calls) or professional services (that have to answer all the user questions) or training (that have to conduct all the training). I have found that it is not too difficult once customer support is already using some type of ticketing software to put some rough figures on the issues that are usability/user experience related. The argument is that this will only capture a small fraction of the existing problems, so it gives you some quantitative figures to put to managers. From there it is easier to calculate the ROI by improving usability because it reduces the amount of support tickets and support personnel time (so they can work on higher priority issues).

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