March 31, 2016
As we develop more digital and mobile solutions, companies are trying to figure out how to shift their IT organization to support the changing dynamics around digital user experiences. So, CIOs and CTOs all over are asking how do they change IT to support a digital user experience? Here are three steps for those CIOs:
1. Find engineers who will help you develop a great user experience
Not all engineers have the same skills. Some engineers want to be Nick Burns, the popular character from SNL. Nick Burns wants to show up and prove he is the most knowledgeable guy every time. He does not care about whether his users “get it.” Can you spot the engineer who is the right type to develop a great user experience? In our experience, we often look for these two attributes.
People Who Care About the User
Some engineers naturally care about the user experience even if they do not have experience creating it. They want to improve the number of clicks, the organization of information and other actions that are user-centric. This can often come from an engineer who has previously spent time in a supporting role, helping people learn to use a system. User-centric thinking is valuable and engineers with these types of skills are worth investing in.
People Who are Natural Artists
Other engineers are naturally artists and understand the value of creating something beautiful. They could be doodlers, musicians, painters, or thespians among other types of artists. Engineers that fall into this category often find their natural inclination towards art will support the desire to create something beautiful for the user.
Obviously, nothing is greater than experience in user interface technologies, but finding people who care about creating a beautiful user experience goes a long way to creating a team to support a better user experience.
2. Support and train tech-savvy business people
Engineers are traditionally and hilariously too far into the details for most business people. They are often accused of missing the big picture. However, with more people having grown up around technology, tech-savvy employees are all over the place and able to help, which is why our second major point is to support and train the business people.
To invest in the supporting and training of the business people, you have to begin with strategy. Start with user personas and journeys that help them define and understand what you are creating and why.
Help them understand the power of iterating and prototyping by creating a small minimal viable product (MVP) that is near and dear to their hearts and letting them test it. Make them the product owner for that MVP and they will learn the value of agile methodologies through experiencing project iterations themselves.
IT needs these tech-savvy business people to be the product owners. These people could be a marketing or operations leader who has the mission of digitally transforming their area of the business. Lack of clarity around the personas, business goals, or requirements is a huge anchor on many digital projects. Enabling an organization of digital project sponsors that are outside of IT will remove hurdles and help you create the most successful user experiences.
3. Invest in visual and UX design
So many organizations have assumed that the engineering team can design interfaces. This has resulted in CSS technologies (like bootstrap & foundation) that set a basic pattern any developer can follow. However, the user experience can suffer if engineers try to incorporate all elements into an easy template.
Engineers breathe a sigh of relief when they receive design help. They are happy to have a professional deciding the layouts and color selection, freeing them to drive the functions and capabilities. Handing off the tasks that once caused their stomachs to churn and being able to focus on what they do best leaves them feeling so much more productive.
By finding the right engineers, bringing in tech-savvy business people as product owners, and investing in visual and UX design, companies (and CIOs) can start to shift their IT organizations towards supporting excellent digital user experiences. We enjoy helping companies strategically plan this shift and deliver milestones to show the changing success of the business. If you need some help, contact us today.