Practicing What We Preach

Astrid Chow, senior user experience designer at Roundarch Isobar, explores the importance of practicing what we preach in a series for UX Magazine. ?The series is based on the following premise:

As UX professionals, we dedicate our time and energy to the seemingly never-ending quest of creating the most appealing, most effective, and most accessible experiences for our users. Now?consider an analogy where our employees are the ?users,? and the workplace is their ?experience.? All too often, there are significant organizational barriers that can stifle the true potential of an effective UX team.?Common complaints from UX professionals include: the feeling of not being heard or understood by other project stakeholders, a distrust of management, and a work environment that lacks the support (both technological and intellectual) needed to achieve success. Sound familiar?

This should make us wonder: what if these UX principles were applied on a larger scale? How could we use these guiding principles to identify the needs of UX professionals and help provide collaborative solutions?”

Practicing What We Preach ? Managing First Impressions with New Employees

?We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility.??Malcolm Gladwell,?Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

In a world where competitors are a click away, first impressions really are everything when designing an experience. Hess makes several recommendations regarding first impressions in the context of user experience design. For instance, a digital experience should not only make users feel at ease, but should set forth realistic expectations of what it can and cannot offer them, with the ultimate goal of forming a loyal, long term relationship. User experiences often begin as a “conversation” with the user; as a UX designer, this figurative conversation is a one-shot opportunity to set the tone of the interaction.

Zappos?founder Tony Hsieh applied this principle to the hiring process after recognizing that first impressions were not only important to retaining customers, but to retaining employees as well. Every newly hired employee completes a one-week training period, where they can develop a “first impression” of the work environment and culture. If the new hire decides to decline the job offer, they still receive $2,000, no questions asked. This one-week “test run” allows new hires to get a feel for the goals and expectations of the position, while granting them the autonomy to decide for themselves whether to continue with long-term employment. As a result, the $1.5 billion online apparel company enjoys a very minimal employee turnover rate (Daniel H. Pink,?Drive).

Read the entire piece?here.

Practicing What We Preach – Leading with Empathy

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own.” ?Henry Ford

As UX professionals, it is our imperative to create valuable and engaging experiences for our users. We often have to play the role of ?user advocate? on?project teams?where other requirements and constraints can push our recommendations for more user-centric designs to the bottom of the list of priorities. In this article, I will discuss not only why?empathy?is critical?offering a truly competitive advantage when designing experiences for users?but also why this same ability is key to managing your project teams, your department, and your entire organization.

In the past, being empathetic in the professional world has been marginalized as being “too soft? or ?too touchy-feely.? However, empathetic approaches should be implemented both internally and externally and do not fit into any pre-defined box.

Internally, for example, you could apply an empathetic approach in the form of regular one-on-one meetings with your employees to gather their opinions on the organization as a whole. An example of how your organization could employ empathy on an external level, would be adopting a mission to provide your customers with the most valuable experience measured by how positively your product has improved their daily lives.

Unsurprisingly, in many cases, it?s very difficult to quantify the ROI from taking a more empathetic stance as an organization, both with respect to the management of your employees and to product development. However, one must not ignore increasingly competitive markets?a result of the economic crisis of 2008. After all, massive layoffs and severe cutbacks made consumers more budget-minded, and more demanding of better products and experiences. Designing products that provided value as well as a positive user experience that was sensitive and responsive to users? unique backgrounds, needs and goals, became even more of a priority.

Read the entire piece?here.

In the upcoming months, she will be exploring the UX principles: Feedback, Consistency and Trust and Transparency.

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