Over the years, it has become quite apparent that the appreciation and value placed on user-centered design by many organizations has dramatically increased. Today, more than ever, companies are looking to jump on the UX train and utilize design to better achieve business objectives. Unfortunately, the growing value placed on design is often misdirected and rests on misconceptions of its meaning and the place it should hold within an organization. I have personally encountered this problem on a number of occasions with my own clients and have heard similar stories from my peers.
Many executives and managers alike tend to compartmentalize their design team as a separate creative entity that works independently of other departments and teams within the organization. This can be a dangerous mistake for a several reasons. For one, the main focus for UX designers’ is to advocate for the user, whom they gain an understanding of through user research. Nonetheless, there are a number of key insights that can dramatically help inform the design process beyond user research, which designers can gather from their surrounding colleagues. For example, insights from existing data analytics can be an immense help to guide design decisions. Also, feedback from customer facing teams such as sales and account management can be crucial in gaining a more well rounded understanding of user behavior and needs.
Secondly, a low rate of transparency between design teams and their counterparts may at times still meet the needs of the users, but neglect the needs and goals of project stakeholders. A perfect example of this is the relationship between designers and developers; designers must work hand in hand with developers in order to ensure that designs are within the scope of the development team. Many often cite this point as an argument for designers learning how to code, but even if a designer has a wide ranging understanding of development principles, without a consistent channel of communication, time, budget and resource constraints are still unaccounted for.
To conclude, while more and more value has been placed on the need for employing user-centered design, the implementation of this concept is often still misguided. Designers make decisions that stem from the gathering of information. Though some of this information can be acquired through research, there is a wide range of critical info that can be obtained through open communication and discussion with other teams and departments within an organization. Integrating design teams within a company and opening up the lines of communication across departments through regular meetings and open discussion will not only benefit company objectives as they pertain to design but also to all other aspects of the business.