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WOW – A practiced and perfected design process Part 1 – Uncovering the merit of UX design to projects

Parul Tyagi

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What is WOW?

The HPE Experience Studio works with design teams throughout Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to deliver a consistent user experience (UX) for customers. We are constantly learning, iterating, and innovating the UX design process across the HPE portfolio. As the manager for experience design, I’ve found that many businesses struggle with understanding the true value UX designers bring to a project. In this series of blog posts, I want to share with you a method our group developed that demonstrates this value and provides enterprise UX designers with a practiced and perfected path to achieving success. This is a workflow we call WOW (Why On What with customers and constructors). You’ll note that, as with any good UX design, we used a little creativity in the spelling, with two reflected “C’s” (representing the customers and the constructors) used to create the “O”.

WOW is a domain and persona agnostic workflow that has been perfected over a period of time. The flow doesn’t provide any governance on tools, activities, or timelines, but instead sets the right framework in place to bring about a level of certainty and success to a project while moving from one part of the process to the next. It is an easy, engaging methodology that helps creative teams focus on four important stages of a project:

  1. Uncover why the business (and this particular project) needs a UX
  2. Involve the customer early in the design phase
  3. Ensure the constructor (developer) has the right information during design implementation
  4. Convey the business value of the design

Uncovering the project value of the UX using a contextual presentation

Traditionally, designers tend to focus on what UX design tools and methods they plan to use for a project when they present to stakeholders (such as software developers, program and product managers, etc.) As they attempt to convey the value of a purposefully designed UX, they also cover the revenue and efficiency impact the design will have on customers. Though this approach is good for on-stage presentations, in the HPE Experience Studio, we’ve found that this method is not effective in meetings where stakeholders are looking to understand the value of the UX in the context of the overall project.

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Figure 1 Traditional presentations to stakeholders don't always uncover the value

Presentations like this tend to generalize outcomes from design efforts, which can undermine the importance of the UX for a project. Stakeholders can become overwhelmed or confused and may not be able to relate the benefits presented directly to the UX within the context of their projects. Because of this, it is important to avoid generalizing UX outcomes and to instead talk about the impact of the UX in terms the project at hand.

This point became very clear as we worked with several groups and practiced a concept called contextual inquiry, which is part of a user-centered design (UCD) research method. Experience in this area helped us to devise a contextual UX presentation, which focuses on business KPIs that can be used to easily articulate the design-value for a specific project.

Shift mindsets from pretty to pragmatic by focusing on tools that address KPIs

Many times a UX project is perceived as an attempt of beautifying the existing look and feel of a product. Though this is one important aspect of UX design, there is far more to it. More importantly, enterprise stakeholders should understand how the UX design relates to the overall value of the product.

Almost every enterprise product is developed with four KPIs (key performance indicators) in mind:

  1. New customer acquisition
  2. Customer retention
  3. Increased yield
  4. Reduced costs

Often, the reduced cost KPI is the biggest impediment for considering UX proposals and investing in a focus on UX within a product.

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Figure 2 Presentations that address business KPIs are more persuasive

Using specific tools, the UX design process can actually play a key role in helping developers address KPIs and easily justify “Why” a product team should invest in UX design. Tools like SUS (System Usability Scale) and heuristic evaluations can uncover design debts present in the product that could lead to issues down the road. Heuristic analysis and evaluations can illustrate the scope of improvements a properly designed UX can bring in terms of product usability, encouraging the acquisition of new customers. Using a SWOT analysis, designers can pinpoint current product functionality debts and highlight competitive advantages, which will help increase the yield of the product.

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Figure 3 Specific tools, like Heuristic Analysis and SWOT Analysis, address KPI concerns, like customer acquisition and retention

By measuring the product’s system usability with SUS, the UX design process addresses the requirement to retain customers by making sure customers feel they have been heard and that their requirements are addressed on a timely basis. Performing a UX-competitive analysis on a product helps product managers identify and prioritize investment opportunities. This can lower expenses by reducing the number of wrong investments. As you can see, the design process not only uncovers issues but also very elegantly uncovers gaps and opportunities, a combination that is often hard to find!!

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Figure 4 Other design tools, like SUS and Competitive Analysis, can address how to increase yield and lower expenses

Summary

There is a lot more to UX design than what is often considered. UX design processes aren’t intended to just make an application look pretty. The benefits of using a thoughtfully developed UX design process extend way beyond the resulting user interface (UI). Benefits can be obtained immediately by involving UX designers at the very beginning of a project. As I’ve pointed out, in the first part of our WOW workflow, designers use tools that really help uncover the business value of UX design. In Part 2, I will cover steps 2 and 3 of WOW; the importance of involving the customer early in the design phase, and ensuring that the constructor (developer) has the right information during design implementation.

Feel free to reach out to me @uxwithparul if you have any questions. Follow subsequent posts in this series and view other informative blogs at HPE DEV.