In the previous post we looked at some of the factors which affect the overall User Experience. In this article we’ll examine the people who affect it. The picture below shows some examples of the type of people involved.
It is a common misconception that the Creative people at the bottom are the only ones responsible for the User Experience. They may take the lead in this area but many others have a part to play too.
It is only through teamwork, sharing the appropriate information, and everyone understanding the bigger picture, that a good holistic User Experience emerges. Lack of collaboration between the bigger team can harm the experience no matter how great it was when first envisaged.
The most obvious people that directly shape the User Experience are the Interaction Designers, Information Architects, UX Designers (and the myriad of other job titles that cover designing the interaction between a product and the users).
Other creative people here are the Graphic Designers who produce the ‘look’, the CopyWriters who produce effective written content, and maybe Industrial Designers if there is a physical aspect to the product.
The Analysts elicit and organise the requirements. Developers build the software part of a digital product and often make many small design decisions that bring the product to life, hopefully in keeping with the designs of the Creatives.
Key architectural decisions in the implementation will directly impact the performance and reliability. These qualities are usually invisible to the user but it can be disastrous if they become aware of them. The architectural choices will also impact the maintainability of the product and how easily it can adapt and evolve.
Testers can give early feedback on initial designs and then ensure that the product reaches an acceptable level of quality before it is released. Projects will often have a Project Manager or Team Lead to plan and coordinate the work of the others.
Business Managers set the strategy for the business which will shape the products offered. They can massively affect the User Experience by encouraging an organisation that understands and values good design. Management support for design will ensure that it is given the appropriate emphasis and level of resourcing.
Product Managers own and plan the product roadmap, and agree the content of what goes into each release. The Business Operations people manage the product in use which may involve directly interacting with the users via a range of customer services. Sales and Marketing may also directly communicate with the user.
The Users can be a varied group of people with each bringing their own skills, experiences, environments, and expectations to the table.
We cannot design an exact experience for everyone as each person is unique, but we can design a product that meets the majority of their needs and interacts with them in an overall pleasing and engaging way.
The Competition could have similar products which will alter the perception of the product. The views of the Community and other Users will alter expectations before usage and can enhance the experience during its use. The quality of any third party products or services that are used in the offering will reflect on the product.
Do we really mean people?
Up until this point we have been talking as though these are specific people, but in reality nearly everyone is multi-skilled and may cover mutiple roles. People are all individuals possessing broad knowledge and skills in many areas and usually extensive capability in their chosen specialism. Despite this organisations often label and pigeonhole people into narrowly defined jobs, in the same way that I’ve done in the picture above for ease of explanation!
Small projects may have very few people, or even just one, playing all these roles. Large projects will have teams of people working in each role. Like people, projects are unique and each will need a particular mix of skills. We need a way to see which skills are needed in upcoming work and a way to recognise the level of competence of each person in different areas. This allows a flexible approach to team working and any gaps can be actively addressed. We’ll revisit this topic when we start to look at how to describe the way a multi-disciplinary team works.
Can you think of others?
We have seen that many people influence the User Experience. Perhaps the initial question should have been “Who doesn’t influence the User Experience?”, although that would have been a short article! Who else in your organisation impacts the User Experience?
Organisations who have a range of people with complementary skills have the potential to produce great products and experiences, but there are many pitfalls to avoid in getting them to work together effectively. This will be the topic of the next post.