If you ask ten people where user experience belongs in an organization, you will likely get eleven answers, but first, you might get asked what you mean by user experience (UX).

  • Client (or Customer) Experience (CX), refers to the impression you leave with your client, resulting in how they think of your brand, across every stage of the customer journey. This involves every step from advertising, brochures and public websites to forms, call centers and correspondence.
  • User Experience, the way I am defining it, is focussed on the time the client is interacting with the website or web application to accomplish a task.

I work in Information Technology (IT), and our team is integrally involved in the requirements and design of systems.  We focus on information architecture, interaction design, visual design, accessibility and usability testing.  When our organization needs user research, personas, client journeys, concept testing, content strategy, brand guidelines, etc. we have marketing partners who collaborate with us.  It's not a clean division, and we run into issues doing pure research that can't be charged back to a specific IT project.  On the other hand, the collaboration we have with Marketing rarely gets to the level of detail needed to integrate legacy back-end systems and databases.  The concept testing gives high level direction, but does not reflect the complexity of our existing systems.

I wish we had more time and resources for user research.  Given the right budget support, that would be easier to accomplish on a team within Marketing. 

I am also proud of the team's ability to partner with development and quality assurance to make systems that benefit our users on tight timeframes, that would be more difficult if we weren't part of the IT organization.

I don't have a good answer for where UX belongs in an organization.  This is a question that will probably not have an answer, or many answers depending on your specific circumstances.

Stuck in a rutSometimes we can be comfortable, applying familiar patterns to familiar problems. Whether it's layouts, frameworks or tools, we can get "into the groove" where we feel we are accomplishing things quickly and efficiently, leaning on our experience and proven solutions. At some point, this groove can become a rut, where we no longer challenge our assumptions or look for better options.

Often we believe the "sunk cost fallacy" - concentrating on what we already invested in the current solution, such as time, money, and effort, and it may keep us stuck. Sure, the team knows the current tools, and the design patterns are well documented and understood, but do they really push the boundaries of what modern web applications can be? Browsers, platforms and tools change so quickly, you may be designing for yesterday's constraints.

User experience will happen. Whether it's designed up front, or a product of users interacting with your product after the fact, the human and product will interact. Good UX happens when we make decisions in a way that understands and fulfills the needs of both our users and our business.

It's important in this definition to recognize both sides of the equation; the user and the business. UX design strives to produce positive emotions in the user, whether it's through delight or just satisfaction in getting the task performed efficiently. On the other hand, anyone working for an organization has to ensure the organization goals are met as well. Sometimes negotiating between the two stakeholders can be tricky, when the needs are in conflict.

So why do we need UX? To ensure someone is looking out for both sides equally.

Clippy, the doomed mascotClippy was ahead of his time.

I'll let that sink in.

Clippy, the infamous Microsoft Office assistant,  was introduced in November 1996. He was refined three years later, in Microsoft Office 2000. He went into retirement two years later, when he was turned off by default. And he finally departed this digital veil in 2007, when Microsoft Office dismissed him all together.

While he was eventually consigned to the dustbin of failed software, like Microsoft Bob, at the time, his novelty spun off a wave of "conversational agents." I worked on "Seemore the Sock Puppet" - a conversational agent for Payless ShoeSouce back in the 90s who you would click to "See more" - get it?  He waggled his eyebrows, and danced around the screen.  In a juvenile Easter Egg, there was one pixel on the screen that would make him pass gas, if you knew where to find it.

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