Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company S tructure?

15 Jan 2004 - 10:05am
10 years ago
5 replies
494 reads
Robert Reimann
2003

Given this choice, and without specific knowledge of
each organization, I would tend to pick an association
with Marketing over IT.

Theoretically, Marketing should understand the importance
of customer/user relations, and from there it's usually
an easy sell that a product's behavior constitutes an
important piece of that relationship. Usability can also
offer Marketing a greater insight into its customers/users
(via ethnography and even traditional u-test) along axes
that market research doesn't provide, and also provide
insight into what people really like and dislike about
existing products. With the right people and approach,
Usability/UX and Marketing can be wonderful allies.

This isn't to say that Usability/UX can't operate from within
IT, but in this case, upper IT management must really support
it, recognize it as necessary component to the development
process (rather than a luxury), recognize where it belongs in
the process (throughout, and especially at the beginning), and
be willing to back up the UX team's decisions and analysis.
I've seen it work, but I think it's often the bigger challenge
organizationally, and very dependent on IT and UX leadership.

And as others have mentioned, UX must bring together many
constituents across the organization to be truly successful,
no matter where its home is.

Robert.

---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design
Bose Design Center

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Whelan [mailto:ccwhela at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 5:10 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company
Structure?

Can a usability team report into an aggressive marketing/business
development unit and remain true to the user? Can the same question be
raised if the team reports into IT?

I'm having an interesting debate here about where the
user advocacy group should report. (The choices are IT
or Marketing - I can't form a new department!).

I know concern over objectivity in the usability field certainly isn't as
dramatic as in publishing, where many organizations literally separate
editorial and ad sales, but has anyone looked at how an organization's
structure impacts the effectiveness of the UX team?

I realize the answer would likely vary by case,
depending largely on the UX team's leadership, but I'd appreciate any
insight...

-C. Whelan

Comments

15 Jan 2004 - 10:22am
Narey, Kevin
2004

Interesting. Yes, theoretically you would think of Marketing as the
customer/user's champion.
However, I've had completely the opposite experience of Marketing, who
appear to be solely interested in (and sometimes thoroughly uncompromising
on) the visual element of the solution and not the physical interaction. I
suspect that this is a legacy issue with Marketing where print is a
preferred medium.

Internally, I have found that there is a very complex interface between
Technology and Marketing and that Interaction Design can often provide it.
In addition it has the benefit of being able to be sold externally as a
service in it's own right.

rgds

KN

-----Original Message-----
From: Reimann, Robert [mailto:Robert_Reimann at bose.com]
Sent: 15 January 2004 16:05
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company
S tructure?

Given this choice, and without specific knowledge of
each organization, I would tend to pick an association
with Marketing over IT.

Theoretically, Marketing should understand the importance
of customer/user relations, and from there it's usually
an easy sell that a product's behavior constitutes an
important piece of that relationship. Usability can also
offer Marketing a greater insight into its customers/users
(via ethnography and even traditional u-test) along axes
that market research doesn't provide, and also provide
insight into what people really like and dislike about
existing products. With the right people and approach,
Usability/UX and Marketing can be wonderful allies.

This isn't to say that Usability/UX can't operate from within
IT, but in this case, upper IT management must really support
it, recognize it as necessary component to the development
process (rather than a luxury), recognize where it belongs in
the process (throughout, and especially at the beginning), and
be willing to back up the UX team's decisions and analysis.
I've seen it work, but I think it's often the bigger challenge
organizationally, and very dependent on IT and UX leadership.

And as others have mentioned, UX must bring together many
constituents across the organization to be truly successful,
no matter where its home is.

Robert.

---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design
Bose Design Center

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Whelan [mailto:ccwhela at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 5:10 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company
Structure?

Can a usability team report into an aggressive marketing/business
development unit and remain true to the user? Can the same question be
raised if the team reports into IT?

I'm having an interesting debate here about where the
user advocacy group should report. (The choices are IT
or Marketing - I can't form a new department!).

I know concern over objectivity in the usability field certainly isn't as
dramatic as in publishing, where many organizations literally separate
editorial and ad sales, but has anyone looked at how an organization's
structure impacts the effectiveness of the UX team?

I realize the answer would likely vary by case,
depending largely on the UX team's leadership, but I'd appreciate any
insight...

-C. Whelan

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15 Jan 2004 - 11:14am
Robert Reimann
2003

It's very true that some traditional marketing depts.
need to be educated about interaction/behavior. I've
seen similar marketing groups that come from the print
marketing communications world. Usually the job isn't as
hard when there are product and technical marketing
groups that have some tech awareness.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: Narey, Kevin [mailto:Kevin.Narey at Gedas.co.uk]
Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2004 11:23 AM
To: Reimann, Robert; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company S
tructure?

Interesting. Yes, theoretically you would think of Marketing as the
customer/user's champion. However, I've had completely the opposite
experience of Marketing, who appear to be solely interested in (and
sometimes thoroughly uncompromising
on) the visual element of the solution and not the physical interaction. I
suspect that this is a legacy issue with Marketing where print is a
preferred medium.

Internally, I have found that there is a very complex interface between
Technology and Marketing and that Interaction Design can often provide it.
In addition it has the benefit of being able to be sold externally as a
service in it's own right.

rgds

KN

-----Original Message-----
From: Reimann, Robert [mailto:Robert_Reimann at bose.com]
Sent: 15 January 2004 16:05
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company S
tructure?

Given this choice, and without specific knowledge of
each organization, I would tend to pick an association
with Marketing over IT.

Theoretically, Marketing should understand the importance
of customer/user relations, and from there it's usually
an easy sell that a product's behavior constitutes an
important piece of that relationship. Usability can also
offer Marketing a greater insight into its customers/users
(via ethnography and even traditional u-test) along axes
that market research doesn't provide, and also provide
insight into what people really like and dislike about
existing products. With the right people and approach, Usability/UX and
Marketing can be wonderful allies.

This isn't to say that Usability/UX can't operate from within IT, but in
this case, upper IT management must really support it, recognize it as
necessary component to the development process (rather than a luxury),
recognize where it belongs in
the process (throughout, and especially at the beginning), and
be willing to back up the UX team's decisions and analysis.
I've seen it work, but I think it's often the bigger challenge
organizationally, and very dependent on IT and UX leadership.

And as others have mentioned, UX must bring together many
constituents across the organization to be truly successful,
no matter where its home is.

Robert.

---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design
Bose Design Center

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Whelan [mailto:ccwhela at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 5:10 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company
Structure?

Can a usability team report into an aggressive marketing/business
development unit and remain true to the user? Can the same question be
raised if the team reports into IT?

I'm having an interesting debate here about where the
user advocacy group should report. (The choices are IT
or Marketing - I can't form a new department!).

I know concern over objectivity in the usability field certainly isn't as
dramatic as in publishing, where many organizations literally separate
editorial and ad sales, but has anyone looked at how an organization's
structure impacts the effectiveness of the UX team?

I realize the answer would likely vary by case,
depending largely on the UX team's leadership, but I'd appreciate any
insight...

-C. Whelan

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List discuss at interactiondesigners.com
--
to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
--
Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
--
Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
--
http://interactiondesigners.com/

**********************************************************************
gedas united kingdom limited
Registered in England no. 1371338

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential
and it may be privileged.

It is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom it is
addressed.

If you have received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the
material immediately.
**********************************************************************

15 Jan 2004 - 11:35am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 15, 2004, at 8:05 AM, Reimann, Robert wrote:
> And as others have mentioned, UX must bring together many
> constituents across the organization to be truly successful,
> no matter where its home is.

Which is why I would say Marketing is nowhere near the correct spot to
put a UX team. Design belongs with Engineering or some similar group
inside a company, not with marketing. I have never seen a Marketing
department be able to do what you say, ever. They have very specific
priorities, many of which conflict directly with product design and
engineering. They have to concern themselves mroe with sales than with
the design of the product, and while many people have good intentions,
when push comes to shove, they should be expected to fall on the side
of what makes the company money, not what is best for the user.

In order for Design (I assume UX is a part of design, you can read my
opinions why at http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html) to work well,
it needs to live as an equal to Marketing and Engineering in the grand
scheme of things in order to function properly within a business
organization. But given a lack of this, it is most effective when it is
not part of the Marketing department. That's been my experience.

And I would stay from IT as well if at all possible.

Andrei

16 Jan 2004 - 11:48am
Robert Reimann
2003

Andrei said:

> ...to work well,
> it [UX] needs to live as an equal to Marketing and Engineering in the
grand
> scheme of things in order to function properly within a business
> organization...

That's definitely true, but it wasn't one of the choices we were
given. :^)

> I have never seen a Marketing
> department be able to do what you say, ever.

Well, I have, so I guess we have different experiences.
I would say that for the majority of projects I worked on as
a consultant, I was brought in by marketing, rather than
engineering.

Ian said:

> In marketing, my advancement and guidance would come from how well I
convince
> the users that our software does what they need.

That is a fairly narrow (and traditional) view of marketing's role.
But marcom is not product marketing is not technical marketing.
And competent marketing departments understand that swindling users is
not a viable long-term strategy.

Perhaps these areas are too closely linked in the web world, but in
the product world this is not usually the case. Understanding
the culture and history of the organizations you need to work
with is probably the best path to success.

Robert.

---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design
Bose Design Center

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrei Herasimchuk [mailto:andrei at adobe.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 15, 2004 12:36 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Where Does User Advocacy Belong in the Company S
tructure?

On Jan 15, 2004, at 8:05 AM, Reimann, Robert wrote:
> And as others have mentioned, UX must bring together many constituents
> across the organization to be truly successful, no matter where its
> home is.

Which is why I would say Marketing is nowhere near the correct spot to
put a UX team. Design belongs with Engineering or some similar group
inside a company, not with marketing. I have never seen a Marketing
department be able to do what you say, ever. They have very specific
priorities, many of which conflict directly with product design and
engineering. They have to concern themselves mroe with sales than with
the design of the product, and while many people have good intentions,
when push comes to shove, they should be expected to fall on the side
of what makes the company money, not what is best for the user.

In order for Design (I assume UX is a part of design, you can read my
opinions why at http://www.designbyfire.com/000012.html) to work well,
it needs to live as an equal to Marketing and Engineering in the grand
scheme of things in order to function properly within a business
organization. But given a lack of this, it is most effective when it is
not part of the Marketing department. That's been my experience.

And I would stay from IT as well if at all possible.

Andrei

16 Jan 2004 - 2:27pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Kevin Narey writes:

>Yes, theoretically you would think of Marketing as the customer/user's
champion.

Not I.

But maybe I'm just not theoretical enough. :-)

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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