Investing in Your Success
“You are going to do research on your product - the only question is whether you do it before, or after you launch.”
This tends to resonate most immediately with folks who are familiar with the process of software development - designers, front- and back-end programmers, project managers, etc. - and anyone who’s been through even a single launch of the most run-of-the-mill website or digital product. They know, first-hand, the pain of testing after a launch, because they tend to get stuck with dealing with the aftermath of the easily-foreseeable mistakes: complaints from customers new and old, disappointing improvements (or terrifying drop-offs) in critical metrics, and the inevitable finger-pointing that follows.
It’s a horrible experience for teams, especially those who labored long and late into many of their nights to bring an experience to life. And almost everyone on the team can point backwards and identify one or more critical junctions where a different decision, or a different prioritization might have made things a little better.
There's a Better Way, that Most People Will Ignore
It’s easy to agree that there must be a better way, but it’s far more difficult to convince people of that better way when development budgets are being scoped out, and timelines set. Here are the most common objections/rationalizations I hear when proposing to include a robust UX Research plan into a digital project:
These are all interesting and useful points, and they can help to illuminate some deeper truths about a project or a business if you use them as jumping off point for conversation, rather than a final proclamation.
"You can't stop clients from sticking a bean up their nose"
- Jared Spool
But You Can Help Get it Out
There's a certain world-weariness that experienced UX professionals have after a while, and the above quote encapsulates it nicely: though you may know better, the folks who write the checks ultimately get to make the decisions.
Since I’ve been at this since about 1998, I’m getting pretty good at nodding patiently and suppressing the urge to yank out my hair when I hear these rationalizations. It also helps that I’m as bald as a bowling ball, but if you’re not so lucky, here are 3 ways to justify and get buy-in for almost any investment in UX research.
If you put this all together into a nice, snappy, product- and customer-centric pitch to your team, it comes out as something like this:
“With 10% of our project budget, I can answer 10 critical questions we have about our audience/product/customer experience, and help us focus our time and effort on solving just the most important problems in the most efficient way. Oh, and we’ll likely save 10x as much in lost development time/rework after we launch.”
They will probably still say "no, we don't have time." AND THAT IS OK, because you have an "investment mindset" when it comes to UX Research - you are laying the seeds for future work that will help make your product or service better over time.
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