How Osudio makes UX a structural part of the digital product life cycle
UX may sometimes still be considered the new kid on the block. And yes, it’s somewhat of a buzzword too. But let’s face it: UX is not the latest sexy thing anymore, nor the obliged “disclaimer” (“as long as we do something with UX it will be OK…”). Research and a growing number of convincing business cases validate and justify the use of UX tools and methods. UX is a vital element of the success and effectiveness of digital platforms and helps to maximize the investment of all needed resources. It’s simple. UX pays off: for end-users, customers and brands. And for digital agencies such as Osudio.
Working as a UX Strategy Consultant at Osudio means working for an established digital agency. For twenty years we’ve been active in the field of e-commerce. Being part of the pan-European SQLI means that we work intensively together with premium brands who face digital disruption. They all are looking for ways to create maximum added value for their customers. To obtain a cooperation this close between ICT, business and design (remember IDEO’s sweet spot?) is crucial. We aim to achieve this in our own processes and within our collaboration with our clients. Because it’s crucial for the effectiveness of what we are designing, building and implementing.
A true holistic approach is what we’re aiming for. And let’s be honest: the use of UX tools, methods and processes helps us at Osudio to do just that. When we align ICT, business and design structurally and effectively, we create relevant, meaningful products and services for the end user. Products and services that give our clients a significant, sustainable and hard-to-copy competitive advantage. So, we need to make the necessary and important shift from thinking in projects to a mentality based on thinking in products. As UX professionals, our ambition is to use our expertise more structural and based on a shared product vision. UX becomes part of a bigger plan and has a broader scope. To apply UX as an unavoidable part of sales, strategy, during implementation and afterwards.
In this blog, I’ll explain how we work to achieve this and where UX adds value in Osudio’s daily practice. What are the specific characteristics of sales, strategy and implementation? Why and how is UX relevant for each phase? Which tools and methods do we use and – last but not least – what is their effect?
Sales and UX: know, understand and analyze the real world of your client
First things first. If you want to use UX in the very first phase of a product life cycle, then show, tell and convince your leads and clients. In sales, UX is relatively new but definitely not rocket science. Just make it perfectly clear why UX pays off and explain why – as a brand or enterprise – you should be using it. Tell the right story: clarify the benefits of applying UX, never forget to validate and use some appropriate business cases and best practices. Personally, I’d like to invest in research because you can only propose the best, tailor-made offer if you passionately want to know, understand and analyze the real world of your client. To dive into the client’s context, observe real users, customers and employees and visit real workplaces and shops. To embed, experience, observe, gain valuable insights and to be able to define the real business challenge. Once you discover the question behind the question, it becomes relatively easy to deliver the appropriate answers. To deliver a sound pitch, you’ll need to collect the proper arguments, validate them and present them in a tailor-made way. And then build a case from scratch and use – as early as possible – quantitative tools and data to perform a benchmark, zero measurement or a gap analysis. That may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth the investment. Using this approach creates the right mindset in our client’s organization from the start. As a digital agency we build trust, show our expertise and manage expectations more effective. And more importantly, we manage to win pitches and RFPs more frequent and start collaboration on a far better basis!
Strategy and UX: shift the paradigm of our client’s organization
As Osudio, we’re pretty used to applying UX in the strategy phase, UX’s traditional habitat. No wonder, because it seems so logical to use UX tools and methods in the strategic phase. Here, UX helps clients to make the “fuzzy front end of innovation” less fuzzy. We align and involve the relevant stakeholders (again, a combination of business, ICT, design, branding and marketing) and we make the complex, often abstract reality more concrete and tangible. I’m always happy to use design thinking techniques and a co-creative approach to achieve this. In interactive workshops and sessions we co-create stuff and explore together instead of endless discussing and just talking. This way of working delivers a lot of positive energy. Stakeholders realize that we face the same context and share the same challenge together.
UX tools such as a Value Proposition, an Empathy Map or a User Persona will unlock a lot of collective creative thinking. By drawing up Customer Experience Maps (CEMs) and formulating a Touchpoint Strategy, we create important ingredients for the outline of a roadmap, or a 1.0 version of a product backlog filled with functionalities. With the ability to shift the paradigm of our client’s organization from the (classical) inside-out to the desired outside-in thinking as the most important effect. This makes it absolutely clear which products and services will create added value for the desired audiences. We also make sure that the corporate vision, mission and goals are translated into an appropriate and pragmatic digital strategy and roadmap. We create a solid foundation for all the following steps, so we’ll do the right things in the right order. All this helps to break down internal silos and create an almost obsessive scope on customer centricity.
Maintenance and UX: guarantee that sprints will be effective
Our experience in e-commerce shows clearly: going live with a new digital platform or webshop is only the first step. The real work starts exactly there and then, because e-commerce platforms are never finished. For me, there’s still a lot to gain in using continuous iterations in products and services to make them better, relevant, user-friendly, more effective and successful. Regardless whether we talk about hard or soft KPI’s or conversion. Necessary for this shift in thinking and working together, is a different mentality: to embrace maintenance. Which means daring to choose for cooperating and partnering with clients using a scope on the long term. As Osudio, we’re proud to bring an interesting mixture of knowledge from both qualitative and quantitative research. At this moment, as a UX team, we work hard to create our UX Maintenance Toolbox. In this box, you’ll find UX tools that range from simple to complex. Tools that can be used online or offline. Based on n=1.000 or n=5. It’s our ambition to offer our clients the best, situational, smart and effective use of appropriate tools. By doing this, we guarantee that sprints or iteration-cycles will be (more) effective and resources are well spend. Of course, it also helps to integrate all disciplines (ICT, business and design) in a logical and structural way. And last but not least: we make the e-commerce of our clients successful in a structural way.
Wrap-up: UX as a way to build and maintain strategic, long-term partnerships
At Osudio we’re doing our best to make UX work in sales, strategy and maintenance. Being an UX Strategy Consultant for almost one year gives me a clear understanding of the shared ambitions of our UX team. We work hard together to complete the shift from UX in strategy to UX in sales, strategy and in maintenance.
Why we’re doing this? Because it pays off! UX is mature, accountable and here to stay. With our approach, expertise and toolbox we offer our clients a flexible and effective use of UX throughout the product life cycle. Because improvements and iterations never stop, nor does the use of UX tools and methods. We aim for a better integration and cooperation between tech/ICT, business and design/branding. So we’ll finally become able to build and maintain more strategic, long-term partnerships with premium brands that we love working for, like Carlsberg for example. In short, to make UX a daily routine. As a healthy habit, UX delivers a lot of energy and makes people happy: regardless if they are on C-Level, stakeholder, IT manager, business consultant, product owner, customer or digital professional!