8 Ways to Help your Co-Workers Understand the Value of User Experience

Mike Brand
4 min readNov 19, 2015

Mike Monteiro always says that doing good work isn’t enough. You also have to sell your work. This is true for in-house designers as well as consultants. I work at an enterprise software company, where it is hard to put a revenue figure on a good user experience. The user experience (UX) team at AppNexus works hard to make sure that everyone at the company knows how important the user’s experience is. Here are 8 things we do to help our co-workers understand the value of what we do.

1. Involve Co-Workers in the process

Involving co-workers (especially early on) shows them the benefits of following a proper design process. They get to see errors being discovered before development time has been spent. It also supports empathy by serving as a reminder of who is actually using the software. Not to mention that it gives anyone the warm-fuzzies to see people using their hard work.

2. Send a Company-Wide Newsletter

I hate useless email as much as the next person, but it can be a great way to bring visibility to what you do. Our UX team sends out a monthly newsletter where we show people our favourite GIFs. It’s made up of articles about projects we’ve been working on, usually framed in terms of user research to show what was tried and how it improved.

A GIF from a recent newsletter. The UX team voguing on ice.

3. Make them Your BFF 👯

Sometimes you just have to make people like you (a fact that’s true inside and outside of work.) The UX team occasionally holds social mixers for our closest co-workers. One recent example was an event where we invited all of the product managers at AppNexus to come drink champagne, eat cheese and play games with us. This works off the same principle as going to fancy restaurants for a first date, the halo effect. If they think we’re good people, they’ll also think our work is good

4. Make Memorable Artefacts

Artefact is a pretty general term that includes wireframes, mockups, prototypes, personas, and reports. They get passed around among team members and are seen by many people, so make sure you craft them as well. If you have good documentation it helps everyone understand what’s happening more quickly.

5. Hold Retros to Work Effectively

A retro is a meeting where you take time to talk to your co-workers about how you work together. This is incredibly important to ensure that you’re actually creating as much value as you think you are. How will you help create corporate synergies if you don’t know what you’re doing well and what can be improved?

6. Run an Internal Conference

Running an internal conference was a lot of work but was also a ton of fun. Each UX team member talked about something they were passionate about. This helped show the company that we’re experts in creating great products. It also allowed us to talk about some of our successes. It didn’t hurt that our keynote speaker, Deidre Kolarick, mentioned that a great user experience can create evangelists, which leads to more sales.

Introducing our internal conference

7. Be Available and Proactive

Being available allows you to help solve UX problems when your co-workers need help. We have a lot of ways to be contacted:

  • #Ask_UX slack channel allows co-workers to get questions answered quickly
  • a UX@appnexus email list allows anyone with a question in the company to reach out.
  • We frequently volunteer on cross-functional and internal projects, which means a variety of people see the benefits of working with us
  • We run workshops so that co-workers can learn some introductory UX concepts.
A photo from our Girls Who Code workshop

8. Support Allies

I started on a new team recently with product managers who had no experience working with designers. We eventually persuaded one of them to join us for a usability testing session. He learned so much that he has been asking the other PMs why they don’t run user testing more frequently

These are the best ways that we’ve found to help promote user experience within AppNexus. Have you had luck with any other methods?

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Mike Brand

Product Design at Spotify. Patron saint of emojis.