What is the clearest way to explain to a client the disciplines and benefits of User Experience Design?

What I've got so far...

This is the clearest definition of the disciplines I've seen, but it definitely wouldn't be a good explanation to give a client, nor does it show the benefits.


I feel as though clients are generally aware of columns 1, 7, and 8 (in bold).

  1. Business Context Analysis

  2. User Experience Planning

  3. Usability Engineering

  4. Content Publishing

  5. Information Architecture

  6. Interaction Design

  7. Visual & Information Design

  8. Computer Science (Development)

How do I create more awareness to the areas (not in bold) and their benefits and importance in a clear and concise way?

  • In what context are you trying to explain it -- selling services, or as they're working on a project and you need their input?
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 0:30
  • @jcmeloni — Mostly in the sales process. I'm trying to help the potential customer feel confident in the value being provided (in the context of services). Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 2:06
  • @jcmeloni — The other context would be during a project (especially a smaller one), reminding both the client and other team members of the importance of those parts of UX. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 2:08
  • 1
    I think that what you're looking for is UX ROI. There was a good question with very good answers only a few weeks ago - ux.stackexchange.com/questions/17038/…. Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 11:14

2 Answers 2


I think you got start explaining the macro picture of what UX does in day-to-day life, and then zero it to the particular area, it goes like this -

"An UX specialist actually deals to understand products and interfaces from user perspective. Users are the predominant drivers for a product - and as an example (provide metaphors/example always) - imagine you have your mobile, and all that you do it is because it is been designed for you, all your emotions, anguish and real love is created with lot of pre-empted strategies - which is what we do" (this could be a 30 second elevator pitching!)

Build Case studies of projects or examples that relatively explains the UX process, create visual samples for all micro subjects and create a flowchart of how all this relates by timeline. If you were to address about users take the person in front of you as an example or to whom you address, since it relates to a context.

Not in order of what you have numbered but the way the design happens (mostly)-

  1. Lets look at a building, and if it were to be without columns and beams - structural members- it would not stand - its similar in a way that Information Architecture is a structural member in an interface, that captures the hierarchy and lays out all information with a rationale and objective. Once again a building also has the rooms and corridors - which is once again the work of IA where navigation is laid out to reach various locations of the interface or page in more destined manner.

  2. Your room each has its own set of plumbing, switches, services and necessary appliances to really work with - this is what the interaction design does, where each of your interface is carefully design to interact well with other interfaces and be a wholesome part in the whole gamut of things.

  3. If all your rooms were bland, without any aesthetic sense -how boring and how emotively you react to it ? This is were your aesthetics matter and gives life you to the structure -which is what the work of Visual design is all about.

  4. For all this to happen one should very well know how the habitats work or dwell, and you need to know the users for the same case of how they approach the interface - where we need research, user testing, user studies to examine what we are doing and how we are doing, it could be at any stage of the process and primarily its Engineering - where you have to do this throughout the process of design - so as to modify when and if required to suit conditions.

  5. All this is done in a broader shell of planning with a brief, problem statement and capturing what your user is all about, you create a road-map, understand competitive factors and discover what is set forth in the journey - this is what we call UX Planning. We also have a plan just like others!!

I sum it up with all the micro denominators in a frankly 3-5 minutes speech with the elevator pitch of what a UX is all about. This is all should effectively be supported with Case studies and visuals of how the entire product is changed by means of design in the process!

In context to your second part of "Creating awareness" (for internal/external team)- it could go well with -

  1. Creating workshops with non-designer and manager team
  2. Prepare brochures and flyer's - create awareness of design
  3. Events/Competitive activities to explain how design changes course of a life (pull out products of everyday life - relate bad design/good design to folks)
  4. Provide incentives for people to find objects of good design in every day life
  5. Prepare storyboards and enact plays on design
  6. Create a path for setting up the brand awareness - Set success parameters for each stage and realign thoughts about how people react
  7. Take some relatively fresh insights, find problems to certain projects and try resolving from UX perspective
  8. Take UT serious, and document how users are thinking against a business case, or making a business use case more prudent with your design thinking.
  • Awesome answer! The tough part I have with the metaphor of construction/architecture/etc is that it doesn't make sense for usability because you don't get a chance to test where a light switch goes in a room before you install it. Sure you could change it later, but you have to build somewhat instinctively, right? Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 5:31
  • @DesignerGuy That is indeed the open wound of architecture: they can't and they do not test their ideas 8/
    – FrankL
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 16:50

Why UX?

It's worth thinking about UX in terms of an evolutionary approach to designing applications; and in my opinion, it's useful to think of product design as the field's real world counterpart.

Think about the design of any product, for example a plastic tub:

  1. The product can be designed and built according to base fundamental requirements (e.g. needs a lid and a container)

  2. ... or alternatively it can be designed and built according to the researched needs of target users (e.g. as the tub will be containing hot liquids, and will be used in an environment where it might be accessible to children; it needs to be able to be able to be 'childproof', water-tight, and insulated so it can't burn those who touch it).

Both methods achieve the same aim, but the second methodology is likely to create a more successful product, because development is focused on achieving goals of real users.

While the example given is overly simplistic, the design of an application or website can be considered in exactly the same way.

In the early years of web and desktop application design, refinement of an application according to users' needs wasn't a priority. However as the industry has developed, so have the techniques and strategies available to practitioners.

Because the factors that need to be considered when designing a website or web-application are wide-ranging and interact in complex ways, a range of disciplines are useful aids to achieving a considered approach to design.


  • User Experience Planning

  • Usability Engineering

  • Information Architecture

  • Interaction Design

  • Visual & Information Design

Each of these disciplines examines user requirements from a different angle and provides useful strategies and techniques for helping to create a software product that is based upon the goals and needs of real users.

When all of these disciplines are considered as a whole, they're conceptually referred to under the banner of UX (or User eXperience) because they all directly affect the way that your user experiences using an application.

It's very possible to create a software product without paying attention to UX; but doing so is likely to provide a lower-quality product that will ultimately create less value for your users. And ultimately this reduction in value, potentially translates to less revenue for the business providing the software product.

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