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Scale UX in the organisation

Some of the most successful companies all have one thing in common – they put the customer at the centre. How do you create the conditions for that in the organisation? Jonas Englund is the Design Manager at Osynlig Stockholm and has extensive experience working with product management and strategic UX. Here he shares his best tips and experiences.

Porträtt på Jonas Englund

"By continuously iterating and working closely with the users, you reduce the risk of getting it wrong," says Jonas Englund.

We have previously reviewed why it is important to work user-driven with digital development. In article, we delve into how you can get more value out of UX in an organisation.

How do you build an organisation that puts the user at the center?

It is a process that takes time, but of course, also depends on the level of maturity from the start. When I'm out lecturing, I usually talk about a UX pyramid - where you have a stable base, several levels and a top to strive towards.

At the bottom of the pyramid, we have companies and organisations that completely lack UX competence. You don't know who the user is or what their needs are (or in the worst case, you think you know, without having it confirmed). There is no one who has a stated responsibility for user needs, nor is it understood why it is needed. Often you think that there is no time and that it is better to just keep going, "because that is what we have always done".

As an example, a few weeks ago I met a company that is developing a digital product. When I asked who would benefit from the product, I got the answer "everyone". Then there is a lack of understanding of who it is you are addressing, and what value that target group would get from the service.

At the next level in the pyramid, we find companies that have realised that this is an important issue and are gathering expertise. You bring in an agency, or you hire a UX designer. At this level, they talk about wanting to "make it easier for users". The focus is on improving what the user sees on the screen, not exploring whether the solution matches an actual user need. The UX designer enters the final stage when the design is already developed, or in the worst case, after the development is already done. It is like asking an architect to give feedback on a house that has already been built. The feedback is valuable but the timing is completely wrong. The consequence is that the company does not get as much value from the existing UX competence.

What does it look like when UX maturity increases?

As maturity increases, we begin to see greater and broader competence internally about what UX is and what value it creates. There is an understanding that an improved user experience leads to increased sales, loyal users and a stronger brand, and this in return leads to more resources for UX. Here we can see a shift from seeing UX as something that is about what the users see on the screen, to working proactively with identifying the users' needs, driving forces and context.

At the top of the pyramid, we have organizations where insights about the customers or users are a strategic issue that drives development forward. There are clear processes and structures for working closely with users at all levels and the insights are used to make substantiated strategic decisions. At the very top, we have companies that build their entire culture around the user.

Do you have any examples?

Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify are some examples. They have turned entire industries upside down, thanks to their innovative power and their focus on the user.

If you are a company that has not come this far, where do you start?

I mainly have two tips: First of all, it's about showing the effect and value of the UX work that is done. The second is to increase competence internally about the business value of UX. Here, it can help to bring in an agency that helps sharpen the arguments and runs a draw for the management team, for example.

After all, many companies are not solely focused on digital products and services, how should one think then?

When we talk about user experience, it is often in a digital context, but it is important to remember that there is no dividing line between the digital and the non-digital. At the end of the day, it's about the customer's experience with your business, and that experience is affected by all touch points. Whether it's an app, a physical store, a call with customer service or a letter in the mail. Therefore, the customer perspective must always permeate the entire organization.

Any last tips to send along?

Here are five things:

  • Reduce the risks of getting things wrong by continuously listening, iterating and working with users.
  • Measure user experience with the same determination as revenue and costs.
  • Have a clear vision for the user experience.
  • Reduce the barriers internally to be able to improve the user experience.
  • Make user-driven everyone's driving force – move from process to culture.

If you want to delve deeper, I can recommend looking at McKinsey or Invisions studies on the value of design. Jared Spools articles are also a tip.

Book a seminar

Want to learn more? We often hold seminars for management groups or teams on how you work smartly and efficiently with UX. Get in touch with our XD Director Pablo Dunovits and he'll arrange for you to attend.

Want to know more?

Talk to Pablo Dunovits, XD Director