The Value of UX Literacy
What is the value of UX design? Why should brands prioritise UX design and what’s the value for the end user? What do you think of when you look at the photo below?
Could it be “Gosh, someone ought to fix up those worn patches of lawn”, or even “Geez, who are the silly people not using the proper path?”
To be honest, a year ago I might as well have thought the same thing.
Looking at it now,** I see common sense.**
What is UX?
Thanks to a quick Google, I was able to rustle up this definition.
This is okay, but I propose that we prune it back a little. Probably back to
“The overall experience of a person”.
Let me explain:
To “know” UX is to know humans.
Our wants and needs.
How to solve our problems and succeed.
When down the rabbit hole, or in a tango of design complexity, we must come back to these simple human truths and understand that:
The wheel doesn’t always need to be re-invented.
We don’t necessarily need to stun or wow users visually.
The true human experience goes far beyond any screen.
In my experience:
Solving big problems, and fulfilling our needs is best achieved through simple, rewarding, and meaningful experiences.
I believe that packaging all of this into a foundation to build from will set any UX Designer up for success.
One of these projects is not like the other
It’s December 2020, the onset of a scorching hot kiwi summer. I‘ve just started my first week at Osynlig New Zealand. Nerves are high, and the temperature in the office is even higher.
It wasn’t longer than a handful of days before I was thrown into my debut project with the new team — let’s call this Project A.
It was obvious from the outset this client had decided what it was they “needed” to cut through the market and launch their business into the future. Their wishlist looked a little something like this:
1. Make it pretty — “Maybe just use a nice template?”
2. Make the bare minimum — “Just design a couple of pages.”
3. Make it snappy — “We needed it yesterday.”
As a more thorough, agile, and sprint-based team, this rubbed us the wrong way. After a bit of strategic jousting, we were able to get them across the line to entrust us with the process, whilst still respecting their original wishlist.
Being a large-scale and historic kiwi product, we helped to do a full stock-take and identify the key areas that a quick lick of paint would not remedy. It was obvious that a serious UX overhaul was required, and deep down they knew it too.
It was a 12-week process from start to finish, which resembled a tug-of-war at times, but we eventually managed to land on a finished product that even the sceptics were proud of.
As one of our close collaborators in their team, put it:
“I wanted to email you personally to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed working together and getting to know you… You guys are an incredible company, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of it for 6 months, It’s been a pleasure working with you. You guys have changed my perspective of UI/UX and enhanced my design thinking. I believe you guys are one of the best in the digital space and research work and the rapid alterations to the work post feedback were amazing to see.”
The value of teaching, practising, and implementing UX literacy was concrete in a response like this. Rather than blueprinting and building the fancy sidewalk as we saw at the start of this article, we were able to focus on the user landscape and accommodate the paths that they need and cherish.
It did take longer than it should’ve at times for them to agree and understand this, but they eventually did. The proof was in the pudding.
**Fast forward to Aug/Sept/Oct 2021 **— enter Project B.
I’m sitting at my oceanview window seat in Westhaven, Auckland. I begin to hear whispers of a new project on the horizon — something big, something juicy.
Before I knew it, we were in the boardroom face-to-face with our new client, looking to evolve their existing e-commerce product into the next best thing.
Now, these guys know what’s up. They’re hip, dropping lingo, and showing a deep understanding, respect, and desire for what we at Osynlig are all about. They’re ready to rumble, and so are we.
Honestly, from day dot, this project was an absolute breeze.
Breaking down the reasons why — they would have to be:
1. Trust — “You guys are the experts, go for it.”
2. Availability — “Give us a call whenever and we’ll be there.”
3. Patience — “Take your time, if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right.”
After a similar length of time as Project A, we managed to complete a colossal amount of work and leave our client with a substantial amount of tangible outputs to continue charging forward with. Alongside this, even deeper UX literacy, and even some great new relationships between our teams too.
As the client put it in their weekly messages of affirmation:
“I just want to give you guys a massive thank you, to be honest, you have all been completely awesome.”
In short, a client’s posture around UX literacy can radically impact the set-up, trajectory, and success of a project.
What does this all mean, Charlie?
I’m glad you asked. Overall, as UX Designers, I believe we must sherpa our clients into becoming as UX literate as we possibly can.
Whether that be simply asking an awkward & challenging question, educating them in best practices, or delivering an entirely polished UX that speaks for itself—if passionate enough, we will serve them as best as we can with the time we do have.
It should never be solely about shipping a product, but rather leaving a lasting impact on our clients that will stand the test of time.
Remember this? Keep it in mind for your next project. Why? Because it represents the two mindsets that a client can be occupied with at any time.
What we should do is lead their gaze off the paving, and back to the worn paths. That is where the real gold is — in their very users, and it has been all along.