Part 2- Managing Outside-In Design orgs

Summary: Outside-in design organizations live and breathe user experience. The main differentiator between a technology-driven organization and a Human-Centered design approach is in decision-making. With Outside-In, design, business, and technology decisions are gathered, validated, measured, and infused into the Sales, Marketing, Business, and Technology fabric. This post (in 2 parts; see part 1 here) explores those key organizational behaviors we’ve discovered and worked with for over 15 years. We’ve included to-do items for managers to action these insights. 

PART 2: (7-12)

7. Empathize with user pain points and problems

Why it is important:  All smart UI and user decisions are made with empathy. Beyond a design tool, empathy is critical to how we use our socially wired brains. Understanding how someone (whom we are designing or developing for) feels about their work, tasks, goals, and dreams is extremely valuable. 

Manager to-do item: Give your teams time and opportunities to experience user data (attend user visits, watch videos, or review photos). Take and give your team Human Centered Design training, where user behavior is experienced as a core design tool. 

8. Research like a boss

Why it is important:  In the field of UX, QUANT-itative data (surveys, analytics, stats) are considered low-insight. Getting insights beyond traditional data (think stats, numbers, tables, graphs) is part of QUAL-itative research. QUAL research gives you the “why” and the “how” of what users are doing and what you should do to fix (a design) or innovate.  

Manager to-do item: Set up a regular User Research effort as ‘part of doing business’. Good research is a cost of doing good UX work. Make sure you have a balance of usability testing and out-in-the-field visits as part of your definition of User Research. Many teams are defining research as user testing, which is missing a critical half. 

9. Spread the obsession from Top-Down to Bottom-Up with stops in the Middle

Why it is important:  All levels, including the engineers, product management, and CEO— need to be engaged and slightly obsessed, as in Apple’s case: “Everybody there is thinking about UX and design, not just the designers”- Mark Kawano, Apple UX Lead

See Busting the Myth That Apple doesn’t do User Research

Manager to-do item: UX needs grassroots advocates (your developers), strong partnerships (your product managers), and executive sponsorship simultaneously. It’s not enough for UX to be the passion of a single person, a leader or a department. Everyone must be aligned for UX to blaze the trail it is capable of blazing– so that UX can inform each level of the organization. 

10. Revolutionize Product Management with UX

Why it is important:  Product managers can hamper a UX effort if they do not support, believe in, or have a cursory understanding of its value and relevance. UX is not antagonistic to Product Management. On the contrary, product managers benefit tremendously from user insights, usability test reports, and generally having requirements validated Outside-In Design. 

Manager to-do item: Empower and require your Product Development team to learn about, embrace, and work with the ISO standard UX process called Human or User Centered Design. UX results should be measured and baked into product management. If you are hiring Product Managers, make sure they are not from the old threatened by UX PD school and instead are happy to partner with UX.

11. Fund and Empower UX

Why it is important:  Don’t expect much success without funding your UX efforts properly. UX is a separate focus, just like SEO or Accessibility. Each needs its own budget and their own mandate for success. 

Manager to-do item: Allocate 12-15% of your development budget at a minimum per project for UX. This number has been studied as part of the Return on Investment of User Experience (INFOGRAPHIC). 

12. UX Senior Management (an ear to the CEO)

Why it is important:  An Outside-In Design organization must be managed, nurtured, and directed. Giving UX equal organizational value as that given to PR and marketing is critical. UX managers, directors, and Chief Experience Officers need parity in decision-making and the level of authority a Technology or Marketing director gets…

Manager to-do item: Set up an internal Listening Council or UX/CX panel that reports on and decides on current and new UX strategies. This group should direct customer innovation and enhancements and should manage metrics and UX culture building.  

To deliver faster development cycles, less rework, and more engaging UX for your users, UX management must proactively inform business, engineering, and marketing teams work directly with user studies, direct feedback, and research. 

Enjoy the read? Check out Part 1 for the first 6 tips on running an Outside-In Design organization…

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