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How do you persuade an organization to value UX?

Within the past year I have joined a large company as a 'one-man-user-experience-show' and am often called upon to produce deliverables (for example, new IAs, wireframes, etc) without any UX process. My employers believe that user research and user testing are just a waste of time and that, as a user experience professional, I should just be able to second-guess what a user wants. How can I convince them otherwise?

  • You've probably just asked the most difficult question of all :) There's been some other conversation on here recently, some of which you might find useful: How do you persuade an organization to value UX?
    – Nathan-W
    Commented Jun 5, 2010 at 23:36
  • I'd point out that companies don't usually launch new products without doing some market research.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 9:35
  • I think we can all appreciate the struggle. I suspect that, given the "newness" of UX as a concept in many larger organisations, we've all had similar experiences to some degree. I would highly recommend Cennydd Bowles' book "Undercover User Experience", though. It'll go a long way towards pointing you in the right direction.
    – Sam K
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 10:09

6 Answers 6


Welcome to the jungle :) I and many of the/this community are in the same boat. My take on the situation is that this is going to be a long and almost generational change that will take time and education to change (but not always!)

My strategy is to directly influence all management and stakeholders with arguments stressing:

  • evidence based working as opposed to HIPPO working
  • 'Test Early, Test Often'
  • competitors are doing it
  • UX = measurable business benefit

Essentially you need to become an ambassador for UX from my experience. Just employing a UX person into an organization doesn't mean that the culture is ready to accept the change. It is up to you to find out how you can make that change reality, and in what timescales. In all honesty if I cannot see some light at the end of the UX tunnel in 12-18 months then I'll consider that my end point and time to look for a new challenge...but until then I'm fighting the good fight...

(E.g. I'm sitting here at 5.30am for 6am UAT on a Sunday morning)


Just stumbled across this set of slides from Whitney Hess

Creating a Culture of UX

Creating a Culture of UX was offered as a 3-1/2 hour workshop at UX London 2010.

The workshop consists of case studies, group exercises, a short lecture, and room discussion. Slides from the Workshop

The slides talk about a range of techniques you can apply when fighting for UX, negotiating with your team, your managers, your clients. Gave me some good snippets to ponder about how I engage people.

  • Thanks for this Nathan - it's really helpful. I've seen some of Whitney's online articles and blog posts - they always provide good food for thought too.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Jun 14, 2010 at 10:42

I know I might be in disagreement with many in here but:

In a way your boss is right.

You should know quite a lot about what users want even without user research or usability testing to back it up. It's not like the rules change completely just because you move from one company to another.

UX doesn't have to include usability testing or research. And as a UX person you should (as you seem to) be able to create wireframes based on your experience.

There is also no evidence that for instance usability tests leads to more successful products.

Having said that there are a number of things you can do to justify the UX process that will get your boss to listen.

  1. Ask for site statistics go through it start analyzing it and see if you can find problems. It could be that the sales funnel doesn't work or that users seem to miss something. The numbers will tell and you should always when possible include quantitative analysis in your UX process. Those numbers don't lie, user-testing on the other hand do. Using statistics is a way to get your boss to listen. They will see for themselves where there might be problems with their current site. And you should be able to build argumentation for why you should ask users why they don't do X or Y.

  2. Start referencing what other companies are doing with UX. Preferably competitors. That normally gets them listening.

  • Even with loads of experience you really can't predict some of the weird and wacky behaviours that users get up to. If you want to do things properly you've got to test.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 9:30
  • Which is why you need to test where it really matters and that is in launched service. You have no way of knowing whether the users you have in user test is going to be able to undertand you interface either. To the extent that you can test it before launch your experience is enough.
    – ThomPete
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 16:51

You should co-opt the executives opinions. Don't fight it, own it...You should say,

User testing is a waste of time, agreed. Apple doesn't do user research. A designer should be able to design something people love. I will do that. Process involving alot of official testing is definitely not required either.

Just tell me what the subject matter and the names/numbers of a few people who will use the product and I will take care of everything and design something awesome. No interviews or testing, I just need to ask them a few questions.


Then they will try and get product managers to answer your questions. This is the worst possible scenario. It's worse than having no users at all. If they can't give you 1:1 time with a user, then you should just make your best guesses. Bad situation.

Generally, people don't want to hear about your fancy process. They want deliverables. Don't try to make them understand all the stuff you do. Just get what you need under the radar. UX is guerrilla warfare. Find a way to make it awesome without anyone knowing the difference.


I would suggest a combination of the above. You should be able to deliver creative design solutions as requested of you, but call those "vision deliverables." They are for the purpose of articulating the vision of the business. Between that and development, do your user research on the "vision deliverables" and the wireframes you were using to get there, and make adjustments. If you have no adjustments to speak of, then you should not spend time arguing about the importance of user research (this may happen in cases where you just know your problem and/or users deeply already). When you DO find significant changes, then starting creating a voice -- "yay, look at how much more effective we'll be at selling this product now that I've made adjustments based on user research." Focus on the WIN for the business, not the fact that user research is awesome or how you got the data.


It depends who you need to convince? Execs/upper management? Then its important to try and talk their language. If you can find ways of evidencing how following a UXD process can reduce costs/increase profits etc, then that should help.

Try to promote UX within your organisation. Get other people thinking the way you do. The "Undecover User Experience" book mentioned above was a good read and I would recommend it in your situation.

If they truly didn't believe in UX in the slightest then they wouldn't have hired you, so stay positive and chip away.