Let's talk strategy

The very interesting talk last week at UKUPA on UX Strategy got me into some serious thinking.

  • The evening started off with an academic definition of what User Experience (UX) Strategy is by Tom Wood
  • It was then followed by a reality check by Leisa Reichelt on how realistic is it to implement strategy in organisations
  • Zachary Paradis rounded up at the end with some myth-busting with his semi-philosophical talk plus excellent practical examples

The excellent combination of different takes on the subject got me thinking about why we are so passionate about delivering strategic advice to businesses as UX professionals, and as some of the comments that came after the talks, are we actually uncomfortable talking about it?

DISCLAIMER: As it always happens in the field of UX, the battle of the terms manifested itself naturally when you start wondering if UX strategy is different from customer experience strategy, service design, and business strategy to name a few. I would treat these terms equally for the purpose of this blog post, but you can definitely argue about the similarities and differences between them.

Can UX professionals do business strategy?

Providing businesses with a strategy isn’t what most people would expect to fall within the UX practitioner’s remit. But the truth is, we do it – and we do it more often than most people realise. As advocates of the user, it is inevitable that we end up being entangled in the inner workings of organisations in the quest to understand the experience of a customer with a brand, the different touchpoints they interact with, what is and isn’t working, how can the services be improved etc. Now pair that up with a multidisciplinary team, our ability to communicate these often complex processes in a clear and effective way using all the creative skills we have in our pack, and being able to visualise the plan for change. We find ourselves in the perfect position to deliver strategic advice to organisations (whether they consciously asked for it or not) which usually takes the form of a plan on how they can provide better services and products to their customers.

As such, our passion to create better services, insights into the user/customer behaviour and needs, and creative skills in explaining and visualising complex processes could be some of the reasons why UX professionals ended up making such good partners when ‘talking strategy’. As for whether we are comfortable talking about it or not, I know at least I am and we are doing it more and more at Webcredible to make sure our clients gain our full expertise and support.

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