Having consulted with digital agencies that retrofitted UX teams, I've often found myself selling UX elements such as content strategy and information architecture to designers, writers, creative directors, and account folks. The ramble below is a speech I wrote for an internal meeting that didn't happen. Figured somebody should read it.
In our digital service industry, flash-in-the-traffic site experiences are a dime a dozen. Effectively serving our clients and their users means we need to build sites that are more evergreen. Designers, writers, developers--you just can't do it alone. You need a solid foundation and process that is centered around creating optimal user experiences. You need a framework to help guide design decisions, balance user and brand needs, and effectively flow from point A to point B-thru-Z. In real terms, UX helps Creative teams be more creative. We’re the design behind your design. The structure behind your content. The sage behind the scene. The angel perched on the designer’s shoulder and the writer's pencil, whispering the needs of the user in your ear. Okay, sometimes shouting.
Think of it this way: You're fulfilling your life dream of opening a restaurant. Creatively, you'll want to concentrate on your restaurant brand, the decor, the types of dishes you'll serve, and how they'll ladder up to your ideal patron takeaway. But what about the restaurant space itself? The size, the available light and electricity, the ventilation, the location and proximity to other restaurants? How many folks can you accommodate? Do you need family-sized tables, bistro-sized, or both? Do you need a flexible dining room design that can accommodate larger parties and customers on the go?
And what about the dishes themselves? They're your edible content. You can't just start throwing stuff in a pot the afternoon before opening to see what works. Do you have the ingredients for your ideal dishes? What's missing? Where do you get it? In what amounts? How will the dishes work together? How will courses flow from one to the other? From walking in your front door to tossing in their branded napkin, what are all the elements involved in your patron's experience, and how could they potentially work together?
To fulfill your creative, entrepreneurial vision, you need planning, structure, and strategy. You need UX design. And not just pre-opening night, but throughout the life of your restaurant (and the chains that will undoubtedly follow). As you hone your menu, how were your dishes received? Did your guests get their dessert before their main dish? Did people make yummy sounds, or smother your creations in ketchup? Did hungry, pissed-off diners dash off to outsource take-out instead? Ideally, UX supports a project throughout its life, tossing ongoing user data, content evaluations, and proven industry insights into a pot to whip up future-proofing that keeps the positive reviews rolling in.
Trust us. UX always has your back. UX helps foresee potential hiccups, pitfalls, and disasters. For designers and writers, UX is your partner. Your Goose. Your Hermione. Your Gromit. There when you need advice. There when you want to ask WWTUD (What Would The User Do?). UX helps you plan your party; comes early to help you set up; brings beer. UX sets the tone, keeps things grooving, and even helps out if things starts to get messy. UX saves your ass.
Bon appetite, yo.