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I work for an inbound marketing agency that is on a pretty rapid growth track. We're doing really well for ourselves. We have great project managers. We have a team of very talented designers and our devs (of whom I am one) are very skilled at what we do. For the last couple of years we've been pushing the envelope in terms of UI design and most of the sites that we build for clients are extremely modern for lack of a better term. The CEO, advised by our company's art director, has given the design team a "sky's the limit" directive when they design and they come up with some really crazy ideas for our UIs. As a web dev, these can either be a lot of fun to work on or they can be a real pain in the butt. Lately, things have been getting out of hand as we launched the single most over-designed, over-engineered restaurant website that I have ever seen and while the client loved the designs, in practice, the site is loaded with usability problems and the design doesn't lend itself to what should be a fairly straightforward user experience. What's worse, I'm seeing more and more of these wild UI designs with no sign of any restraint being ordered.

As a senior-level dev with 15 years experience, I've voiced my concern about the UIs that we've been building, but the criticism falls on deaf ears. The design staff, as talented and visionary as they are, are also very young, between 25 and 30 years old with this agency being their first experience in an agency environment and with not much in the way of UI design experience. I'm now seeing a very real need for a UX/UI professional who will put the brakes on these crazy designs and help us produce the cutting-edge sites that we want to build, without compromising usability. I need to engage the CEO on this but he has an exceptionally high opinion of the art director who guides the design process and trusts him implicitly.

I'm still kind of considered the new guy around here and so I don't carry a whole lot of personal currency with the management but we're at a point where this can't be ignored any longer. Eventually, we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot with one of these pie-in-the-sky builds. Can someone please help me find a way to explain the need for a UX professional without sounding like I'm insulting our own product or stepping on anyone's toes higher up in the hierarchy than myself?

  • 2
    It's frustrating, but marketing isn't usually a mecca for usability. At the end of the day, a lot of marketing firm's business is simply selling bells and whistles to clients. Whatever your argument may be, it has to likely be a numbers argument. How will UX either save or earn your company more money? – DA01 Dec 11 '14 at 20:40
  • Lead developer is the one that needs to take a stand here (or not). – paparazzo Dec 12 '14 at 18:01
  • Seriously mate, good luck. I've had situations where I was in a company where my work would always be brushed off because "we've always been doing it this way, therefore..." UGH – Majo0od Feb 17 '15 at 14:11
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Your CEO probably knows already that Marketing is a pretty precise craft that operates with data like KPI's and metrics. What he doesn't seem to know is UX does wonders for just that. Best UX practices, applied to the website/app design, will guarantee that Conversion, Retention, pageviews, visits and all other important metrics will go up. And that the Churn will go down.

Proofs:

KissMetrics presentation on how UX is improving conversion rate and boosts the revenue. http://www.slideshare.net/kissmetrics/marketing-meet-ux-how-to-increase-conversion-rate-boost-revenue

Less essential, more auxiliary ways of UX improving metrics are outlined in this article http://bigdoor.com/blog/2013/09/26/why-marketers-should-care-about-ux/

Avinash Kaushik, the Google's Marketing guru, on UX and Marketing. http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/web-design-user-experience-best-practices/

Bottom line: UX is an amazing tool for Marketing, with a strong bond between the two. How do you keep a client in the conversion funnel? UX will help. How do you make a person to detect and press CTA in first 10 seconds of being on the site? UX knows how. How do you keep people coming back to the app again and again? Use UX.

A marketing agency that doesn't use UX, doesn't use up to 50% of it's real potential, and this means lost money.

Simple as that.

  • No problem, Bryan, good luck in persuading your CEO. – Zoe K Jan 3 '15 at 20:40
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The basic tennet you are selling is ROI - Return on Investment. UX is not fast and it is not cheap. "So what's in it for me?" (says the CEO)

One organization that has done a good job of putting together material that explains the importance of UX is Human Factors International. They don't say anything that isn't said in plenty of other places, but they have a tendency to wrap it in a more management/CEO centric framework.

A good video to show is "The ROI of User Experience with Dr. Susan Weinschenk". It is good for the manager types and for people who spit out "fast moving space" -- giving a good illustration of how Return on Investment (ROI) works in the user experience space. The video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O94kYyzqvTc

A white paper titled "What Every CEO Should Know about Creating an Effective UX Practice" is also a good read: http://www.humanfactors.com/whitepapers/what_every_ceo_should_know.asp

There are multiple other papers on the site, and videos on their YouTube channel, that go into other topics. All very well produced.

Again, they don't say anything you can't find elsewhere. Their advantage is they are written to address and educate the management chain within companies, not simply teach anyone off the street what UX is.

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You may not have to engage the CEO directly.

I have experience where really good Visual Designers often think that they have UX "under control" - and it's just a subset of getting visuals right. They believe they have created something extremely usable. And they do care - they just don't believe they need a UX pro.

So to influence staff with this blind-spot I show them user test results where majority of people hit the same issues. Also show video or even bring them in for observation of user tests. Another tool is usability benchmarks vs. their peers (SUS has a reasonable benchmark set) but the more visceral and personal the experience then the stronger the reaction.

I have yet to come across one person that did not engage, and modify their outlook. If the design team motivates the company for a UX pro then the team will actually work with this person and not fight them all the way.

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