Reasons to be Cheerful – Outsourcing your UX efforts

by on Jan.06, 2009, under Need a hand?

Yes, this is a shameless plug for using my services (well sort of…).  My objective is to give you some ideas for how you CAN have UX integrated into your project or dev team without a large expense.  Part time UX could be just what you need:  

If you only need one, why buy a six pack?  The key is that not all products and teams NEED a full time UX person, and being able to engage a resource on an as needed basis is the best answer in most cases.  

Here’s the summary of points:

– The first step is understanding why UX in your development cycle is a HUGE money and time saver. 

– Next, being focused and clear about what your needs are. 

– Finally, finding the right fit will make the engagement a positive (cheerful) experience for all. 

1. WHY integrating UX into your development process is a good idea:

Increased Adoption Rates = Increased Margin
If it’s easy to use, more people will use it (given a choice among products with similar functionality).  Greater adoption rates throughout an organization leads to increased margin.  But adoption is also the key to becoming the application of record in many cases.  This is an important factor for the little guy trying to gain a foothold with their software.

ROI for usability has always been difficult for development teams to justify.  But building the UX for an application to meet users needs the first time around can yield big wins over the lifecycle:

“The average UI has some 40 flaws. Correcting the easiest 20 of these yields an average improvement in usability of 50%. The big win, however, occurs when usability is factored in from the beginning. This can yield efficiency improvements of over 700%.”
The trouble with computers: Usefulness, usability, and productivity. MIT Press.

‘nuf  said.

Reduced Maintenance Costs
The usual course for dev/engineering is that the majority of their activities are focused on fixing problems with existing systems (usually UX issues) and not enough time on solving cool, exciting problems that get developers engaged and excited.  Using UX to create a better mousetrap the first time around frees up bandwidth for R&D.  Great stuff to keep your product ahead of the curve.

“The rule of thumb in many usability-aware organizations is that the cost-benefit ratio for usability is $1:$10-$100. Once a system is in development, correcting a problem costs 10 times as much as fixing the same problem in design. If the system has been released, it costs 100 times as much relative to fixing in design.”
Principles of software engineering management. In Usability is good business.

Reduced Development time and costs
Making sure you have met users needs before committing the design to a fully deployed product reduces long term costs in maintenance and re-design (as noted above).  But having a clear vision of your UI/UX will allow you to build it once and re-use in many cases.   You will also be able to create templates for a good user experience that can be cascaded throughout your product.  What this means in the dev cycle is that less bandwidth is now needed for GUI development  pushing the efforts towards the back end which is usually where the majority of heavy lifting is needed. 

Efforts are more focused;  less time is wasted re-doing interactions that can’t even be tested because users can’t get over the UI stumbling blocks; and you can realize a faster time to market.  All good answers.

2. WHAT are your needs?

The clearer you are about what your needs are the more defined you can be when engaging a UX person for your team.  Whether you want someone to take the reins from the ground up and create an entire UX system for your product (a la Google Web Toolkit), or you just need a specific interaction designed, being able to set boundaries for you and the UX pro will keep costs down (note the theme here) and the effort focused on exactly what you need.      

And if you’re not completely sure what you need you can work with a UX pro to figure that out.  That’s a clearly defined project too!

3. The RIGHT fit

It’s not just about skill set.   In all professions there are practitioners that fit better for one client than another.   Style IS important.  Skill set IS important.  Chemistry DOES matter.  Don’t brush these factors under the table; doing that could come back to bite you in the long run.  Everyone being happy will  serve you well in the long run.      


And then of course…once you’ve got your groove on with UX humming in the house… there’s the added benefit of being able to sing this song:

    Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3

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1 comment for this entry:
  1. software outsourcing

    for me reduced maintainence cost is the number one thing to look for.

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