Taking UX design out-of-house

…and why you should consider it.

There are many reasons why a digital product or service based business may choose to recruit an in-house team. Benefits in cost and convenience can seem ideal when compared to working with an external team or agency who aren’t necessarily on your doorstep and who may seem expensive when compared to adding people to your payroll.

However after working with many companies who are either starting up or indeed established, I’ve seen the same things occur. Working full-time with one product can take it’s toll, not only on creative vision but with the ability to see things from the mindset of the user base or potential target audience. This is where in-house teams can fall victim to their own product expertise, failing to see it from a users perspective and losing sight of what users really need.

Being an expert in your product is a good thing, a great thing in fact, but what you as a product owner, or developer may find simple and obvious could bewilder and disengage your users. They don’t know it like you do and they certainly won’t think about it in the same way either.

Do you ever find you are at a loss to why acquiring users is becoming more difficult, current users are becoming dormant or jumping ship and your product seems to be losing interest? Are fresh competitors appearing who have new ideas that make your product’s features feel outdated or obsolete?

If so, you wouldn’t be alone, it’s quite common and fear not, it’s not the end, but it is a wake up call. It’s time to act and refresh your idea generation and implementation strategies.

Your team is possibly as frustrated as you are. They may feel as though they are going around in circles, asking the same questions, coming up with the same ideas and ruling out the same possibilities that they’ve spoke of before. Ideas from 6 months ago are not revisited because once ruled out, it seems counter productive to resuggest them.

But remember, as your product evolves and technology and target devices advance, ideas that were once unviable or unachievable may now be relevant. Now might be the perfect time to revisit them and dig them out from the bottom drawer.

Many times I’ve heard, “Yeah we had that idea but didn’t do it because…” Naturally inquisitive, I like to get to the bottom of why decisions were made to help rule them in or out of future development. So it might be that the device didn’t support it at the time but it does now, it’s common place, and in fact their users are all asking why they’re not doing this yet and going elsewhere for their needs.

It’s a case of asking the right questions to uncover the most useful information, which sounds simple, but it is a fine art. An external team can help to do this. You’ll cover new ground and old but it will help revitalise the path your product is on and re-invigorate your in-house guys at the same time.

The benefits of working with external UX teams is that they deal with new projects and products daily and because they approach things with fresh pairs of eyes, it can mean they have a much closer mindset to the users who you’re trying to acquire and engage with. They are not bogged down by any internal politics either, that let’s be honest, can occur frequently within any organisation and have been known to limit and restrain creativity while inadvertently discouraging idea generation.

Some of the worlds most popular brands such as, Nike, Budweiser, Coca Cola; they all use external agencies for new ideas to create their next big message or ad campaign, because they don’t want to keep delivering the same thing time and time again. They look for new and inspired ways to sell their name and their product.

So if you are thinking about trying to improve your own product or service then consider taking a new approach, allow some outside influence and experience into the fold. If your product is established, it’s likely new ideas will help it take that next big step. To do that you need to see your product clearly from another persons perspective, to re-look at your offering as a customer, client, user, whoever it may be.

I’ve been looking at this post for far too long, so I’m heading off to get a second opinion on the content. It will change, and it will change for the better, so count yourself lucky, you’ve probably only read the final version… probably.

World class user experience design is the vital ingredient to any successful digital product or service, be it web based or otherwise. To learn more about how user experience design can help take your product further, just say hello@newborne.co.uk. Or visit us at newborne.co.uk

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