User experience (UX) encompasses the many ways a user engages with a digital product – from their emotional reaction to using it to the way it affects their behavior.
What’s more, everyone who works for a company contributes to UX – even those who aren’t directly responsible for designing, developing, or maintaining your products. That means everyone has a role to play in creating an industry-leading experience for your users.
Here’s a look at why embracing this holistic understanding of UX is important and how your organization can improve outcomes by making UX everyone’s job.
The Lightbulb Problem
Before we look at the benefits of a holistic approach to UX, let’s take a moment to recognize what happens when user experience is not understood as something everyone contributes to.
To do that, we’ll look at what I call the lightbulb problem.
Imagine that your user’s lightbulb has burnt out and they need to replace it – but all they have is a short stool, which doesn’t give them enough height to reach the overhead light fixture.
If you look at the problem narrowly, your solution might be a stepladder that lets them reach the fixture.
That solves the immediate problem the user has, but it ignores the larger experience they’re having – i.e., the reason they wanted to replace that lightbulb in the first place.
In this case, they wanted to read a book. And while the ladder lets them do that in this exact instance, it’s a limited solution. What’s more, getting out a ladder, climbing it, and then replacing it isn’t a great experience to have every time they need more light to read by.
An approach that considers the user experience throughout the process might include questions like this:
- Why does the user want to replace the lightbulb?
- Are there alternative solutions to replacing the lightbulb that might get the user to their desired outcome?
- Do any of these alternative solutions lead to a better overall experience?
With these guiding questions, a team might suggest adding additional windows to the room so the user has to use the light less often to read and so has to replace the bulb less frequently. Or maybe the team would substitute an e-reader for the paper book, so the user could read in any lighting conditions and even during power outages.
Put simply, when teams don’t consider big-picture user experience, they may end up solving the wrong problems. Internal teams might hit all their goals and score high on KPIs – and the company as a whole might still struggle.
Approaching UX holistically can fix that.
A New Mindset: That Is My Job
The lightbulb problem – that is, not looking at the full context of a user’s experience – goes away when an organization considers UX holistically and decides to make it everyone’s job.
Getting there, of course, can be tricky.
One place to start is to ensure that UX teams include people from throughout your organization. The more perspectives you have, the better.
For example, trying to solve the lightbulb problem with a team of only ladder builders would likely not have led to offering the user an e-reader. Those ladder builders likely know nothing about adding windows to a room and may not be familiar with e-readers.
Getting to the e-reader – a much better solution given the larger customer journey – requires input from people who understand different parts of that journey and who have expertise in different kinds of problem-solving.
Organizations can consistently achieve better solutions by building UX teams that include diverse voices from every department. This also helps ensure that employees in every part of the company have an opportunity to understand the customer’s journey, pain points, and proposed solutions.
Moving Further Along the UX Maturity Scale
If your organization currently takes a siloed approach to UX (i.e., UX teams don’t include diverse voices from throughout the organization), don’t worry. Even incremental steps toward a holistic embrace of UX can improve outcomes for your users – and, yes, your bottom line.
For example: I once worked on a team whose designers and developers were really siloed. Every time we needed a new screen, the designers would build it from scratch and hand it off to the developers, who would code it from scratch.
This was inefficient, so I worked with the teams to develop a kind of Lego set of UI elements. With these, our designers could assemble the screens quickly, and because the development team was working from a known set of UI elements with consistent design and behavior, they could build the screens faster.
More importantly, our product team could focus on addressing user needs, in part by bringing other team members into the design process. Because we were producing screens faster, we could run design sprints and do rapid prototyping. This enabled us to give product owners, developers, QA folks, and customers input into products and ultimately a stake in their success.
This approach is typical of how we work at Saggezza: we meet you wherever you are on your UX journey and work with you to, first, get the best possible outcomes, and second, move you a little further along the UX maturity scale so that future projects are easier, more efficient, and better at solving your users’ problems.
When Everyone Owns User Experience, Everyone’s Experience Improves
Acknowledging the reality that every person in your organization contributes to your users’ experiences can have a major bottom-line impact because we all want to produce the best possible outcome for our customers.
When employees understand their role in the organization’s larger goal of improving customers’ lives – and when they’re empowered to make decisions and take actions that actually improve customers’ lives – they’re likely to be happier with their jobs, more engaged, and more productive. And when employees are more engaged and productive, the companies they work for are more profitable.If you’re interested in learning how we can help you bring a holistic view of UX to your organization – and in what that kind of outlook can do for your bottom line – get in touch. We’d love to show you what a difference approaching UX holistically can make.
Meet the Author: Richard Alvarez, UX Practice Lead
Richard Alvarez began his career at Microsoft, during which he wrote his first book on Adobe Flash, which was published by New Riders. He has worked with multiple start-up companies, which has taught him that the digital space is constantly evolving. Prior to joining Saggezza, Richard helped form Method Engine’s philosophy of strategic design. He worked as lead IT at a small creative agency. During that time, he was key in creating technical solutions, based on consumer driven best practices.
Saggezza is a proven technology and consulting partner that delivers personalized, high-value solutions to accelerate business growth.