UX Strategy Part II – Where does UX fit in and who does it belong to?

UX Strategy continues to be a hot topic in our consultancy world.

More and more businesses now appreciate that building a user experience capability in their organisation is no longer a nice to have but rather a must have. They understand that sound UX policies and practices are essential not only in developing better products but also in driving innovation and growth.  In a previous blog I shared some of my tips on how organisations could start thinking about implementing UX in their companies.  In this blog I would like to focus on two key questions that keep coming up when we are discussing Strategy with clients.

  • Where and How does UX Strategy fit in within the overall business strategy?
  • Who does the UX Strategy belong to? Who has overall responsibility for the final user experience?

Where does UX fit in?

An interesting question arose at a recent presentation by my colleague Stephen Denning who was talking about UX Strategy:

  • Question: Should the UX Strategy be separate from the overall Digital Strategy or even the Customer Strategy for that matter?

Some UX experts such as Jeff Gothelf say no.  He contends “that there is no such thing as UX strategy. There is only product strategy”.

Or perhaps UX Strategy should just be part of the overall Business Strategy and focus on objectives such as putting the customer first etc.?

  • Answer:  My view is  that having a set of UX principles or Vision that clearly articulates what UX means to your company is an important part of establishing a culture of UX within the business. Especially if a company is at the beginning of their UX Journey.

Of course it is important that the UX Vision is connected to a company’s business objectives and that it reflects the core values of a business.    Often when we are working with companies to help them develop their UX Strategy, we use Morville’s Honeycomb as a framework to help them map out what the different elements of UX could mean in terms of their situation.

morville honeycomb of UX
Morville Honeycomb of UX

Who owns the User Experience?

Another interesting question or rather debate, that we often come across is about ownership of the user experiences.

  • Question: Who has overall responsibility (and the ability to make decisions on) the final product features and user experience e.g should it be the Product Manager or the UX Manager/Designer?
two foxes fighting
from flicker D Kingham

Often when UX teams start out they are not given a huge amount of influence or authority over decisions which impact the product or the final user experiences.  This can be especially true in an Agile working environment where the buck stops with the Product Manager who makes all final decisions.

  • Answer:  It depends on the structure within the organisation.  However in my experience teamwork and collaboration within the product team are the keys to success.  The UX Team, Product Managers and specialists such as Head of Mobile etc need to learn to work together in a way that is best for that business.  Defined roles and responsibilities are an important part of making this happen.  And creating practices that support communication and collaboration at all stages of development.

We do see however, that in more mature UX organisations the UX team having more influence over the direction of development. This is often reflected in level of seniority of the UX Team has in these organisations.  And this is reflected also in the emphasis and the energy those companies put into promoting a culture of User Centred Design within their company.

Myself and my colleague Stephen will be talking some more about UX Strategy in two upcoming Conferences.

UX Scotland in Edinburgh, 11-12 June.

UXPA 2015 in San Diego, California, 22-25 June.




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