30 November 2017

UX as a Culture

Integrating User Experience (UX) Into the Business to Drive Success

“What is User Experience (UX)?” “Do we follow common UX practices?” “How are we incorporating UX to drive customer satisfaction across the business?” If you work in any tech company, it’s likely you’ve heard some of these questions or even asked them yourself. And, like most people with a question, you may have turned to a search engine for an answer. But how long did it take you to find the answers? Were there multiple answers that seemed to conflict? Were the answers that you found the answers you were looking for? Were there any distractions along the way? A simple search engine query can turn up an endless stream of results, even though the answer you’re looking for is often in the first few results. Companies like Google have focused heavily on UX and user research to deliver you the most relevant content and help you get the information you need as efficiently as possible. In fact, they’ve integrated UX as a cornerstone of the company to drive success in all of their products. But having user-centered design as the foundation of a business is not as easily achieved as one might think. Although UX maturity doesn’t happen overnight, there’s a multitude of methods for engaging employee involvement and awareness of UX.

Sharing UX With Others

At CDK Global, we’ve started to tackle how to weave UX into all parts of the business. Recently, the UX team at CDK Global in Seattle started a quarterly lunch-and-learn event for employees interested in learning about UX and what the team does. The goal of these events is to spread awareness of design thinking, share updates on recent products, advances in standards, and learnings from usability testing and research. They also provide an open channel for questions and feedback. At the first lunch-and-learn, it was clear that many employees showed great interest in the UX team and their projects and methodologies. The room was filled with consultants, advocates, developers, analysts, strategists, content specialists, product owners and even leadership members from different departments. After a brief intro, a few members of the UX team presented recent projects they had been working on, showing them the specific processes involved and providing valuable insight into our company strategy. They learned that solutions for client concerns and needs were actually coming to fruition.

Understanding Our Customers

At one point in the event, recordings from user testing sessions shared a glimpse into customers’ minds as they interacted with our proposed product solutions. This side of development is often unseen by most people other than those moderating the tests. By sharing the results with everyone, they were able to see the customers testing and reacting to our products prior to release. The importance of user testing was conveyed through the comparison of our developments and our competitors’ products. It revealed that not only are we able to design better solutions than the competition, but we also have the data and test results to back up our design decisions. It also portrayed the effective cost savings user testing provides. If we test a solution and it fails, we didn’t spend six months developing it so we can quickly iterate a new, more informed design. An attendee mentioned that this too elevated their confidence in our company’s agility.

Added Transparency

This level of transparency raises employee awareness of what goes into a product before it goes to market. By increasing employees’ understanding of our design process, we can have a more engaged and informed workforce to support these projects and products. Furthermore, our client relations have the potential to improve due to more confident conversations with clients and less uncertainty about products and enhancements. Reassurance in company momentum and agility can be excellent for morale and overall confidence, but the benefits of sharing about UX within a corporate environment don’t end there.

UX Beyond CDK

For a company like CDK, the increase of UX knowledge has the potential to extend past our employees and help guide our clients to make better design decisions on their own and for their respective websites and experiences. On the implementation side of the business, conversations with the clients can be rooted in design-thinking. We can aim to educate our customers on best practices and the importance of user experience so they’re actively thinking about the best ways to facilitate their user’s needs. If everyone becomes more knowledgeable of UX best practices, it helps break down silos and facilitate design discussions that can ultimately help projects run smoother. With more and more people aware of UX basics, UX itself could expand beyond one team and become a part of our culture. Asking every employee to put on their UX hats may be asking a lot. However, by increasing transparency, continuing UX learning sessions and maintaining open channels for feedback, there may be a point in time when we won’t have to ask.