How do you pitch UCD process (or design thinking)?

28 Apr 2009 - 12:25am
5 years ago
11 replies
2163 reads
Kelvin Dai
2009

Hi all, I am a graduate student at Stanford doing a course project for
a design consultancy startup. We are trying to understand how to
effectively promote the user centered design process (or the buzzword
"design thinking") to potentially unaware clients.

During my internship at Google as a user experience researcher, I
recall we used different methods to accomplish a similar goal, such
as inviting engineers and PMs to the usability lab observation room,
designing and promoting posters and brochures about user personas,
and having sessions for engineers and users to have conversation
face-to-face. Also we think that IDEO gave a nice example by their
"deep dive" TV show.

So, we would be interested in hearing more examples, ideas, and
stories from you. How do you tell people what you are doing everyday
as UX designer/researcher? How do you convince
engineers/PMs/stakeholders/clients that the user-centered design is
the right way to go? They are very important to us as we are in our
"observation and understanding" stage.

Thanks a lot for your time, and we hope to learn from your
experience!

Best,

Yusen Dai
MS, Management Science and Engineering
Stanford University
650-575-9382
yusendai at stanford.edu

Comments

28 Apr 2009 - 9:48am
wselman
2009

I agree with Dan's points, esp. about using terms that people are
familiar with and then educating colleagues around that.

There is a certain amount of theater that is required to get your
colleagues to buy into UCD practices. You have to start with the
assumption that they also believe that their methods are just as
effective as you believe (and obviously know of course!) that UCD is.
Also, remember because of these methodological differences, you are
asking people to make big changes to the way they work and not
everyone likes doing new things that feel unfamiliar.

My strategy has been to slowly and iteratively introduce UCD
practices and then generally watch them take hold and prove their
value. It requires a lot of patience (esp. when you watch people do
and say things to users that you feel are counterproductive), but it
also is easier than trying to force people to change their ways all
at once.

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28 Apr 2009 - 3:05am
dszuc
2005

Hi Kelvin:

Here are a few tips I have applied and learned:

* Understand the project/product/users/product team etc - what
problems is the product team trying to solve and learn how can you
help. Start with their needs first and foremost.

* Use terms people understand - if they want you to run a Focus Group
(but you think its better to run a Usability Test or something else),
call it a Focus Group and educate around it. Don't spend energy up
front trying to convince them that your method is better.

* Start small and grow - start with a UX method that provides some
real insights and then build around that. Sometimes it may not always
be the perfect approach.

* Use examples people understand - show products that have benefited
from good research or improved design and why people love it. Speak
to people's emotions and make them passionate about why you can
help.

* Find allies - People in your organization/other product teams who
can provide good stories about where user research or design or
usability testing or has helped improve a product forward.

* Avoid jargon - UCD and other like terms for people outside of our
field sound scary and may be another thing they have to learn in
addition to their own job. Just as Engineering terms "can" sound
scary to us. Its less about convincing them that your way is better,
rather showing how the stuff we do may be able to compliment their
approach. Find a common language. Lead with what people understand.

* Turn insights into actionable design improvements - again less
about the focus on the academic and more about what you can do to
help improve the product.

Also see -

* Selling UX -
http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2008/10/selling-ux.php
* Selling Usability in(to) Organizations -
http://www.slideshare.net/dszuc/selling-usability-in-organizations-presentation
* Selling Usability -
http://www.amazon.com/Selling-Usability-Experience-Infiltration-Tactics/dp/1442103736

rgds,
Dan

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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28 Apr 2009 - 6:03am
Scott Berkun
2008

As a general rule the best pitch is one designed for the person you are
pitching to. If you're pitching to a marketer, speak in marketing terms. If
you are pitching an engineer, pitch in engineering terms. Extra work is
required to do this and you do have to study their turf, but you really have
no business telling them how they should do things differently if you don't
know anything about them, their goals, or their problems.

Most UX consultancies wear their pitches on their websites. Go to
http://www.cooper.com, www.adaptivepath.com, www.uie.com,
http://www.nngroup.com/, etc, and you'll see their pitches plain as day.
Frankly if a UX firm can't express their pitch well on their own website
something is wrong, isn't it? (You can find examples of this btw :)

The biggest mistake I've seen UX folks make in pitches is not being specific
in what they want. There is often a philosophical war they wish to wage -
they want to show a VP/Engineer/Marketer that they are wrong about their
view of the world, and that design is more important than they think, which
is mostly a waste of time. If you are outnumbered and outgunned, do not
fight philosophical battles out in the open because you will lose.

If you drop the philosophy war for awhile you can find easy ways to pitch UX
without ever making people defensive. Instead of "UX process lifecycle
model" say you have a way to make the development team more efficient, or a
way to raise customer satisfaction. All progress on tough turf begins with
friendly trojan horses. Use their language and framework and make arguments
in terms of their goals. After you have some wins, then talk people up with
your philosophy and language - they might actually be open to listening
then.

So to be clear, I highly doubt I'd come running in the door with a UCD
PROCESS banner trailing behind me. Or ever give a talk about "THE UCD
MODEL". It's offensive to all the managers and engineers who likely believe
they already have a UCD PROCESS in place, however ridiculously bad it is.
They don't know how ignorant they are and likely don't like feeling
ignorant, especially if your UCD Process is going to take away fun parts of
their job they'd rather not part with (tip: know who will be threatened by
your pitch, and why, before you make it). I wouldn't say "design thinking"
either - you'd be muddying water you need to cross.

Instead I'd look for the most leveraged thing I can do first - e.g. an area
where easy moves have big payoffs. And that's what my first pitch would be
about. "How we can improve the Flooby Dooby widget customer satisfaction by
50% in two weeks". If I did my homework, that would be as large a part of my
pitch as I could comfortably make it.

In all cases always have clear, specifc, actionable things you are pitching
for. If you want veto power on feature decisions, ask for it. If you want a
seat at the table at requirements discussions, say so. Money? Budget? Fine.
ask for a reasonable thing, not too big but not too small, then totally
kick-ass at it - only after your asskicking performance is acknowledged
should you come back to ask for the rest of your shopping list.

If you do kick ass, which if you've chosen wisely should be entirely
possible, important people will ask you "How did you do this!? It kick-ass!"
And then you can smile as you talk about UCD PROCESS diagrams, UX
methodoliges, design thinking frameworks, rapid prototyping sessions, and
whatever else your heart desires. They'll eat it up, because they've already
seen it work on their own turf.

Consulting situations have more wrinkles than the mostly in-house advice I
offer above, but the spirt is often the right one in both kinds of pitches.

-Scott

Scott Berkun
www.scottberkun.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Kelvin
Dai
Sent: Monday, April 27, 2009 10:25 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] How do you pitch UCD process (or design thinking)?

Hi all, I am a graduate student at Stanford doing a course project for a
design consultancy startup. We are trying to understand how to effectively
promote the user centered design process (or the buzzword "design thinking")
to potentially unaware clients.

During my internship at Google as a user experience researcher, I recall we
used different methods to accomplish a similar goal, such as inviting
engineers and PMs to the usability lab observation room, designing and
promoting posters and brochures about user personas, and having sessions for
engineers and users to have conversation face-to-face. Also we think that
IDEO gave a nice example by their "deep dive" TV show.

So, we would be interested in hearing more examples, ideas, and stories from
you. How do you tell people what you are doing everyday as UX
designer/researcher? How do you convince engineers/PMs/stakeholders/clients
that the user-centered design is the right way to go? They are very
important to us as we are in our "observation and understanding" stage.

Thanks a lot for your time, and we hope to learn from your experience!

Best,

Yusen Dai
MS, Management Science and Engineering
Stanford University
650-575-9382
yusendai at stanford.edu

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28 Apr 2009 - 2:24pm
Angel Marquez
2008

You want them to walk away feeling good.

28 Apr 2009 - 2:32pm
Angel Marquez
2008

Since you are on the Stanford campus, I would take them to the Rodan Garden
and sit them in front of the Gates of Hell replica and let them know what
lies beyond that threshold is very un-UCD.

28 Apr 2009 - 10:07pm
Jarod Tang
2007

Figuring out & formatting the real&root problems and figure out how to solve
it in solid way ( whether it be called by some guy as ucd or not)

On Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 6:25 AM, Kelvin Dai <immydai at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all, I am a graduate student at Stanford doing a course project for
> a design consultancy startup. We are trying to understand how to
> effectively promote the user centered design process (or the buzzword
> "design thinking") to potentially unaware clients.
>
> During my internship at Google as a user experience researcher, I
> recall we used different methods to accomplish a similar goal, such
> as inviting engineers and PMs to the usability lab observation room,
> designing and promoting posters and brochures about user personas,
> and having sessions for engineers and users to have conversation
> face-to-face. Also we think that IDEO gave a nice example by their
> "deep dive" TV show.
>
> So, we would be interested in hearing more examples, ideas, and
> stories from you. How do you tell people what you are doing everyday
> as UX designer/researcher? How do you convince
> engineers/PMs/stakeholders/clients that the user-centered design is
> the right way to go? They are very important to us as we are in our
> "observation and understanding" stage.
>
> Thanks a lot for your time, and we hope to learn from your
> experience!
>
> Best,
>
> Yusen Dai
> MS, Management Science and Engineering
> Stanford University
> 650-575-9382
> yusendai at stanford.edu
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

28 Apr 2009 - 3:29am
Paulo Marques
2009

In my experience I found it is important when convincing people that
UCD is the way to go to really take into consideration the business
logic and how your UX process will impact the Return Of Investment.

Basically, what is the "bottom line"

Cheers
P.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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29 Apr 2009 - 1:43am
Kelvin Dai
2009

Thank you all! Really appreciate all the comments especially the
detailed analysis from Dan, Scott, and William.

Also add two points here that David Kelley made in our interview this
afternoon:

1. If you are a startup, start with your network, colleague,
professors. Get first small jobs done fantastically, beyond the
expectation of your clients.

2. visually describe your design concept and methodology to clients.
Let them be able to see what's the future looks like in your
solution.

Best,
Yusen

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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29 Apr 2009 - 5:11am
Joshua Porter
2007

In pitching UCD, I never use the term "UCD".

Instead, I try to talk about what they're worried about.

So, I say things like "in order to make sure this works, we'll run a
quick test with real people first". (user testing)

Or, "In order to make sure we'll be building the right thing, let's
double-check by modeling what people are currently doing". (task
analysis)

There are countless ways to sell UCD (or whatever flavor of design you
like) without getting into terminology lessons. If they're curious, or
push back, then yes I'll get into the more theoretical bits but
generally statements like the above work well. It just sounds like
common sense (because it is).

The fact is that your goals should completely align with your client's
goals (whether in-house or not). You're not there to "do UCD"...you're
there to solve your client's problem.

Cheers,

Josh

29 Apr 2009 - 1:24pm
Rob S.
2007

Hi Kelvin,

If you come in on Day 1, guns blazing, you're going to encounter
resistance. Start slow, understanding the environment and go from
there; context goes a long way.

- Were there "usability initiatives" in the past that didn't turn
out well? Look for this in the form of lipstick-on-the-pig contract
dollars that went nowhere. Being able to explain why this didn't
work is a good start.

- Is the product in a space where getting usability right is
perceived as low-value (it's not, or you wouldn't be there). For
example, if you're working on an application for highly technical
folk, it can be challenging and some may throw their hands up -
helping them understand goes a long way.

The old saying, "the proof is in the pudding". The absolute number
one way to convince people is successively larger victories on the
design front. Apply your practice(s) to projects of ever-increasing
size.

Best of luck!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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29 Apr 2009 - 8:54pm
Jarod Tang
2007

Hi Josh,

The fact is that your goals should completely align with your client's goals
> (whether in-house or not). You're not there to "do UCD"...you're there to
> solve your client's problem.
>

Thanks for so elegant a clarify.

Cheers,
-- Jarod

--
http://designforuse.blogspot.com/

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