Why I can’t convince your execs to invest in UX
Jared M. Spool

Jared is entirely right in saying that he cant wave a magic wand and convince your execs or your organization of the value of UX. No one can.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

I was a part of transitioning our organization to implementing UX Design as a crucial part of our development life cycle. I warn you, it takes a lot of time and work. If you don’t believe in what your company is doing, find somewhere else where they are already convinced. But if you care and want to try, I would like to share with you what I’ve learned going through this.

First Off: Change is Hard.

As human beings we seem to hate change. Change doesn’t just mean progress, it also means giving things up. So the first lesson I’ve learned is to not push the change, but rather, share the future the change could lead to.

As I learned about UX my first big push was a presentation on Usability Testing to the whole team. To my boss, it probably came across as though I was discrediting his decisions and insulting his knowledge of our product and users. Additionally, by focusing on the act of usability testing, cost was on the front of his mind.

Instead, I should have approached him with a specific design decision that was now clearly a poor one. One that I had made. And then pitched him a future where we could have identified it before we had invested in it. I could have sought his advice, shared what I had researched, and invited him to arrive at an answer with me as opposed to trying to force change on him.

Second: You Can’t do it Alone.

What we are talking about actually goes beyond convincing execs. You won’t make real progress until you actually begin to change culture. And cultural change can be helpful convincing execs as well.

How can you do this? Well this is the slowest part of the process, but you need to find others that also believe in UX. Find people who care about your customers and want to deliver stellar service. Find people who know that a well designed product will hold customers and garner higher renewals. Find people who understand that, like a finely crafted piece of furniture, a well designed product will be easier to sell.

Look for advocates in other silos. Try to find one in every different department in your organization. Lean on them to educate their peers while you educate yours. This is why I said that I played a part in this change, because it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for everyone pushing for change with me. Which brings me to my final point.

Third: Educate Others

Not only do you need to educate yourself, you also need to educate the other advocates and your peers. And I don’t mean in a pushy “we should do this UX thing” like I did. I mean in a purely educational way.

You are going on a journey as you learn about User Experience Design. You are collecting information that helps you to realize the impact UX could have for your organization. Your peers have not gone on that journey, so how can you expect them to care about it at all?

They may never have the passion you have found, and that is fine. But you can impart on them an understanding and appreciation. I will never be an expert in data architecture but I know enough about it to understand its value.

I lied when I said that was my final point.

Finally: Don’t be a Jerk

It can be tempting to point out all the terrible UX issues with your product. It may be tempting to form a hate club and gripe about it with your colleagues. Well, you won’t get anywhere hating on your product.

When you do this others that know you are right, that are also embarrassed by terrible UX, will get defensive. You are putting them on the ropes and they will have no choice by to come back swinging.

Instead, focus on that positive future. Pitch what it might be like once you put intention into the user experience of your product. Build up your team of advocates.

I won’t lie to you, this is hard. It will take time. It took me about three years of working towards this transition before it happened. I hope you can take something from my experiences and do it in less.

Good luck!

P.S. I wrote a new article on Championing UX at your organization which you might like if you enjoyed this.

P.P.S. I would love to hear from you on twitter (@MattPLavoie) and would be happy to talk about or share more thoughts about cultural change and UX.

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