Earlier this Fall I had the honor of joining the folks at UX Cambridge. There, I introduced a new talk Want to Sell UX? Stop Talking UX!. It is a topic that I was eager to share, as proving the value of what we do has been on my mind quite a bit as of late.
The idea for the talk came from the reflections I’ve been having (many which I have shared here) regarding how we UXers talk about what we do to those outside of our profession. One thing I’ve noticed time and time again is that UX professionals tend to use “hows” to sell what we do instead of the “whys”. If a client comes to us wanting to update a digital offering we’ll say things like “First we’ll conduct user interviews, then we create personas. From there we scope the project and sketch the interfaces… bla bla bla bla”. All words that mean nothing to most people outside of UX.
We then go through the painstaking process of trying to teach the rest of the world what these terms mean, so that they can see just how much they need our help. In short, we talk to them about how we solve their problem before we 1. Recognize their problem, 2. Tell them the conceptual approach for solving it and then 3. Explain to them the value they receive from solving it our way. In summary, we don’t tell them why the UX approach is valuable. Instead, we try to teach them the approach hoping they see the value from it. It’s an indirect versus a direct method, and the indirect method we are using is failing. Further, the how method that we have been implementing glosses over what those outside of UX really need to understand. Therefore it causes us many problems.
First, talking this way, without directly mentioning the value of UX, makes us sound expensive… really expensive. Think about buying a car that was $10,000 more than a similar car. You are talking to the salesperson and all they tell you is “This car drives along roads smoothly, so smoothly you’ll hardly notice any bumps!”. They continue to describe how the car runs, but never do they say what value it provides for spending the extra money. Needless to say until you hear the why behind the additional cost, you won’t buy because it just seems too expensive.
Secondly, when we try to sell UX by talking about how we do our work, we are seen as the deliverables we provide instead of the value and expertise that we bring. This is how the wireframe machine was created.
Third, talking about UX as a how screws up our market. Meaning we are not seen as a need, but instead an add on cost.
So how do we solve these problems?
In the talk, I provide several solutions that can help us to stop talking UX in order to sell UX. Following theses steps, which I have done in real life, can help us to get UX into a place in the organization where it can be effective and helpful.
If you would like to learn more, be sure to check out the slides from the talk. I’d love to hear if my thoughts are on par with what you are seeing, or if this or any other methods work! Once again thanks to the UX Cambridge team for allowing me to bring this new concept to their event.