User Experience (UX) is key to the success of all things built. Period.
Everything built is intended to be used by someone. And no matter how attractive it looks or how well it’s marketed if it’s not usable, all that hard work is wasted.
Increasing the likelihood of a good user experience in the past, particularly for websites and applications, meant having a dedicated UX designer on the team, one professional who took responsibility for UX decisions and implementation. However, while this is better than having no one focused on UX, having only one person committed to that aspect of the project can create a number of difficulties.
As an alternative, consider
Embedded UX is an excellent way to get more people thinking about the end user results by requiring that everyone on the project think about and be responsible for the user experience first. All decisions by the entire team are filtered through what is first best for the end user’s needs.
No longer does your team need one dedicated UX design professional who answers all the UX questions alone and from one perspective. Instead, each member is empowered to and responsible for making the UX design decisions that come up. Regardless of whether you work with collaborative teams on multiple projects, in an agile environment, or on a per project basis, everyone is taking responsibility for the UX.
By training each team member in the basic UX skill set, the project is more completely covered and a better overall UX experience is more likely. While it hasn’t been the historic practice on production teams, everyone really is capable of keeping the end user experience centered in their decision making.
However, let’s not skip over the fact that some training is required. The principles that create successful UX experiences exist for a reason and need to be taught to the rest of the team. As my mother used to remind me regarding group dynamics: the group’s behavior will always rise, only as high as the level of the individual with the worst behavior within that group.
If that’s true, then your group has to work together to lift each other up. And if you’re all focused on the end UX, then this is more likely. The engineers or developers, project managers, project owner, designers, stakeholders, and even the client should be looking for pain points and frustrations, anything that could make it difficult for the user to accomplish the task your project was built for.
Everybody on the Team is Capable of Making User-Centered & Informed Design Decisions
This is why designers should not be the only ones relied on to do the UX work, design problem solving, or making design decisions. By applying embedded UX and dispersing the UX work among the team, the designers are able to invest time in other areas of the website and assist other team members with other requirements.
This allows the entire team to work more in harmony with the overall user experience. This is why the best teams are using embedded UX to collaborate more fully with designers, engineering teams, project managers, and stakeholders alike because they’ve discovered — as you will — good user experience is good business!
Making UX the focus within the entire team, client included, from discovery and intake through research, development, prototyping, iterating, publishing, documenting, and even maintaining the application or program increases the likelihood of a more successful product.
So, have UX design professionals gone the way of the dinosaur?
No way! Because development and UX work are fluid (as everything is always changing in our ecosystems), it is important to stay current with technology, business practices, and user expectations. To stay on top of that, great UX design leadership and awesome design teams are a must. While they can empowering your teams to the point that they may seem to not even be needed anymore, that’s just not so.
Having a UX professional on your team empowers others. While no one person should be responsible for UX, that area still needs a leader. Someone who is continually helping to improve everyone’s skills. The UX leader’s work is also the key to mapping and facilitating a project in many ways including synthesizing the larger business goals with the more interactive user goals.
In the end, everyone wins with embedded UX. When the team as a whole is more intentionally focused on the end user experience, you can’t help but create a product that is more likely to meet your users needs. And wasn’t that the point?
More on Embedded UX…
Want to learn more about Embedded UX – watch this amazing presentation by Jared Spool of UIE.