Macadamian Blog

Part 2: The Competitive Advantage of Using User Experience

Scott Plewes

Stage one is about the unenlightened

Mobile Healthcare Technology

This is the second in a series discussing the benefits of user experience. Catch up on part one here.

Unenlightened 
To the extent an organization thinks about UX design at all at this stage, it will see it simply as visual design. Design is perceived as something to be “layered” on top of the product’s functionality. For software it is generally ad- dressed at or near the end of coding. There are no professional UX designers in the house —either employees or consultants.

Implications 
Products must differentiate themselves primarily on functionality or other factors such as customer support, salesmanship or the ability to technically integrate with other products or systems. Products created in this way are at high risk of displacement if competitors are able to match their primary value propositions while differentiating through superior user experience.

For example, an information management system at a hospital may be valued and purchased because it can “hook into” other hospital management systems. However if it is cumbersome to use, another compatible product offering a better experience of information management could eventually displace it.

Indicators Of An Organization At This Stage
How do you know if your organization is at this stage? These are the signs:

• People can’t even spell “UX”! UX design is almost never talked about or it’s discussed only in terms of graphical design;

• Real-world users are not (seriously) consulted in the product design and development process;

• If any user suggestions or complaints are gathered, they are not critically evaluated. They are often dismissed (“they just need more training”) or occasionally actually implemented verbatim;

• Any UX design activities have very little formal structure;

• There are no UX design goals tied to business objectives.

Critical Success Factor To Achieve The Next Level
Taking the first step towards UX design enlightenment involves ensuring that the relevant business issues are correctly identified as being UX design related. This awareness is often achieved through a combination of a significant “shock” event (eg. a competitor wins a major sale because of their UX design) along with some degree of education occurring within the organization.

The bottom line on why good UX is not getting out the door: sadly, no one, or almost no one, understands or cares about it!

To read more, check out our whitepaper entitled A UX Maturity Model for Companies Seeking Competitive Advantage

Author Overview

Scott Plewes

As VP User Experience Design, Scott brings over 20 years of experience in understanding customers and how to incorporate their needs into software product design. He's put his skills to work on overseeing the user experience design of dozens of desktop, Web, and mobile applications. Scott holds a Master's degree in Science from Queen's University, and prior to Macadamian, he worked as part of Nortel's Usability Design Group. While Scott would have you believe he is an ardent NFL and NHL supporter, he is still a physics geek at heart. His secret passions include bad science fiction movies and even worse - action ones; and trying to understand Shakespeare… and failing badly. When Scott is not working he's either his kids personal chauffeur, or more likely sound asleep on the couch… the one hobby he has truly mastered.