1. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Want to Sell UX?
Stop Talking UX!
UX Cambridge 2013
- Who do we have here today?
Of you UXers how many of you are:
- UXers... how many of you, by a show of hands, have a hard time proving the value of UX whether on
your own as a consultant or in an agency or in house? Can I get one person to provide me of a recent
- Non UXers - how many of you are weary of having UX on a project or team?
so let’s jump in...
2. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Who I am
First let me tell you a bit about who I am, and why I’m here.
My name is Lis, and I’m an IA and UX consultant based in NYC.
As a consultant I’m always thinking about ways to bring clients the services that I know they need, that
I know I can provide. I’m wanting to open them up to the possibilities of UX.
However, what I was ﬁnding was that
3. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Why I am here
My UX Sales
my sales numbers weren’t reﬂecting of my customer’s “need” for my product.
I all too often saw people not wanting to buy what I had to offer even though it would help their
At ﬁrst I just assumed I was bad at sales all together. I then reﬂected on my past as an in house UXer
and realized it wasn’t easy to sell my services there either. No one wanted what I knew they
needed. I realized then that this whole selling UX thing was a bigger problem than just my inability
As we saw at the beginning, it seems like many of you are having the same issues whether you work
for yourselves or your work in house or at an agency. And to clarify, those issues are the inability to
convince people that what you have is truly what they need. That your skillset is of huge value to them,
and they should see that.
This is what has brought me here in front of you. So for the next 35 minutes we are going to discuss
1. The current state
2. The problem
3. The solution
4. the outcome of implementing the solution
4. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
This is Dave
Dave is an executive at ABC Financial Services Corp.
He is in charge of the lead “money making” product, annuities. Dave has recently come up with a new
product idea. He wants to create an annuities app. He KNOWS people will love it, and people def
need it. Annuities are the best way to save for retirement afterall. He puts together a project that will
execute on the app, and walks away happy.
The project manager gathers together the project team and tells them what they need to build. The
UXer on the team says “does anyone really need this, how will it bring the user value?”, and the
project manager tells the UXer that this is what Dave wants, and so it shall be.
The UXer goes to Dave and explains the uselessness of his new product, but it shot down. And the
company spends thousands of dollars to build the annuity app. It has tons of information about
annuities, talks about how you get triple compounded savings, and all the other features. Of course
none of this language makes sense to the user, it is basically Dave shouting out the features of
annuities and not tying them to any real value. Needless to say the app fails horribly, after several
redesigns to “ﬁx the UX”, and Dave gets frustrated that no one sees the immense value his product
idea can bring to users. “They simply won’t be able to save as much without it!”, Dave cries.
Let me ask this audience... How many of you have worked with Dave? Same old story right?
Well I’d like to break down where Dave went wrong on this one, even though it’s obvious to us all.
5. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Where Dave went wrong
★ No Empathy
★ Talking at them, not with them
★ Placed his product out of context
• First off Dave doesn’t have any empathy for his users. He is doing this app completely for himself.
Even though he wants the best for his users, he doesn’t consider that maybe, just maybe his way is the
• Because Dave doesn’t have empathy for his users he isn’t talk to them, he is talking at them, and this
provides even less interest
• This is UX 101... an iphone app for annuities? You really thought that was going to work??
This is why we HATE working with Daves, they just don’t get what user experience is really about!
Ok, so enough about Dave for now, we’ll come back to him later... We are here to talk about the current
state of selling UX afterall.
6. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
How we sell UX
How many of you have done this. You get in front of a project manager, team or executive and you
listen to the problem the team is having. You say “well this could all be solved if we did some user
interviews, put together personas, maybe even did customer journeys?
How many times did that come back with blank faces, stories about scope, cost, timeline? Eventually
your ideas get crushed.
• This is the current state of selling UX. We come to them with solutions and we are encountered with
blank faces, stories about budget and scope and schedule.
Let me ask you this in the case I just provided....
7. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
How are we different
Think about it...
• We know that people need our product
• But we sell it to them in our language not theirs, using all of our jargon and terms
• Many times we even sell UX out of context, we try to sell it once the project is already put together
and the purse strings already tied.
• Then we get frustrated when people don’t buy what we’re selling!
• AND we blame them because they are the business or tech or creative people that just don’t
Oh and to make things even better we have leaders or our profession saying things like this recent
quote that a friend of mine tweeted...
8. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Here’s the tweet
How many of you saw this?
How many of you agree with this?
How many of you are proud of this?
I’m horriﬁed by it! If nobody knows how to work with us, we haven’t won. In fact we’ve put ourselves on
the outside even more, instead of seeing outside of UX and integrating ourselves with other teams
we are regressing even further into an isolated abyss!
WORSE we’ve disobeyed our own rules of understanding users and having empathy, because the
people that work with us ARE OUR USERS.
Thus, We ARE like Dave because we have a great product... it’s called UX, but we sell it assuming
people should know what it is because they need it so badly. Then we get frustrated when they don’t
see how much they need us, but in reality we’ve never explained to them, in their language, why they
need us. In fact we’ve just pushed our knowledge at them, just like Dave did in his annuity app when
he assumed people would just ﬂock to this amazing product.
This! is why UX doesn’t sell, because we aren’t selling it using the principles we preach, and this
current state of us selling UX this way causes us some major problems.
9. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
I’m a UX person
which means I
Before jumping into the problems that talking UX causes let me explain a bit more clearly what I mean
by that term “talking UX”. We the UX community have our own language. We describe what we do
by our deliverables, and this does us a great dis-service (but that is for another talk).
As we talked about before we’ll listen to a business partner tell us their requirements or issues, and
we’ll respond by talking UX and saying something like “ok we’ll start by doing some user interviews,
then we’ll create personas, and scenarios… which will allow us to move into information architecture,
and then visual design and whammo problem solved”
And when we talk like this, this is what our business partners, tech partners and clients think about that.
10. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
The operative word here
11. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Whether it’s money, project budget, Time, how does this affect someone else’s job. There is always a
cost. And we don’t always have empathy towards this fact especially when we talk like this....
12. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
“It sounds like you
just need user
When we talk UX... we ignore our teammates around us (hell no wonder they don’t “get how to work
As I mentioned using this language to describe our value brings up several issues. First when we talk
13. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
We sound worthless and expensive!
We spend a lot of time talking about what we can deliver without touching on how we deliver real value.
and this reﬂects on our industry as a whole, and discredits us a great deal.
14. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
“You are the one that
does all those
How many times have you heard this? Well that’s because we talk about ourselves as deliverables and
not as value.
The second problem we see is that UX isn’t seen for as we can do, we are seen as what we can
deliver and what we deliver in and of itself isn’t the real value... it’s how we think, it’s our
UX thus is not seen as a value add and that causes problem number 3...
15. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
It screws up our market. What do I mean by screwing up a market. Here is an example...
Recently I have been searching for a new apartment in NYC. I’m sure it’s similar to London, maybe
even here/ But the process is insane. When I would tell friends that I was looking for an apartment,
they would ask me when I was moving. I would tell them September ﬁrst. Every single person would
wince when I would say this.
⁃ “What is it?” I’d ask
⁃ “That’s the worst time to look.”, They’d say
⁃ “Why?” I’d ask
⁃ “Because that is when all the NYU students come back for school, and because they aren’t
paying for their housing, and their parents are, it screws up the entire apartment market.”
⁃ You see it is simply much harder to ﬁnd a somewhat affordable place during this time,
because brokers and landlords KNOW they can sell their apartment, they don’t see you as a
needed tenet, there are tons of tenants this time of year afterall.
If UX is seen as a deliverable, instead of a true value add, it isn’t seen as a need. It’s just seen as a
wireframe or a usability test, no one gets why they should spend all the time and money to go through
the actual process. They can just create the deliverable without meaning.
Therefore instead of getting buyers who want what we actually are trying to sell, i.e. a better user
experience for their customers and more money for their company in return, we get buyers who just
16. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
* Enokson via Compfight cc
We don’t show empathy for our teams, and therefore we don’t let them know how UX helps them
speciﬁcally WHICH IS TOTALLY AGAINST WHAT WE DO. We are in essence hypocrites!
Gogo story. People wanted to know how this effects their jobs, but we can’t even tell them how it helps
the company as a whole. We aren’t showing people that we can work with them, but understanding
them. So, quite frankly, they don’t want to work with us UNLESS we are producing something that
makes the project go faster.
How then do we solve these problems. - Well to do that let’s do like Hollywood, and look at an alternate
ending to our story about Dave.
17. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
This is Dave... again
Pretend that instead of blowing off the UX Designer who raised concerns for his annuity app, Dave
actually listened, because the UXer was talking about how much money he’d be wasting by not really
meeting user needs. This caused Dave to
He took a step back and realized that people didn’t understand the value of annuities, nor did they
understand the need to save for a rainy day. He learned about his users and he realized that what
they really needed was a program that explained to them what type of savings that should be
accumulating for the lifestyle they want to live, what type of savings they could actually afford, and
how annuities ﬁt these needs for them.
After putting together this program, and instead of creating an app Dave’s team would talk to
customers who would either call in or visit the site. Their ﬁrst question to users was always simple “do
you want to save more and still stay within your budget”. Users loved this and would adopt the
program shortly after. Needless to say the product and the company overall saw a great deal of
So what did Dave do differently? <Ask the audience>
18. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
★ Understood what was valuable to users
★ Stopped using ‘Dave’ speak
★ Positioned product contextually
★ Practiced good UX principles!
Where Dave went right
• He took the time to understand what was valuable to his users
• He stopped talking in his language and started talking in the users language
• He positioned his product (annuities) in the right context at the right time by not using an app and
instead a program that intersected with the right users at the right time.
• Basically, he practiced good UX principles.
So how do we sell more UX? Well ﬁrst we
19. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Teach them to want
what we know they
I got this quote from a book entitled “how to become a rainmaker” by Jeffrey J. Fox. He talks about the
way to become a great consultant is to teach your customer to want to desire what you know will help
We know they need us to be successful, THEY know they need us to be successful.
* workshop “I know my projects work better when there is a UX person on them, but I don’t know why.”
To teach them to want what we know they need, we ﬁrst have to understand
20. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013* They Don’t Know by Ed Mitchell via Flickr
Understand from their point of view, what it is they need. We need to really get what is valuable to them.
In her closing keynote at the 2010 IA Summit, Whitney Hess spoke to us about transcending our tribe.
About going outside of our tiny group here to stop feeling so disenfranchised and misunderstood, to
stop isolating ourselves and strive for the inﬂuence to bring about the change that drives us to do what
Transcending our tribe is an important way to build empathy and understanding for our business
You see we have to know what will appeal to them in order to know how to sell our value to them.
Our next step in getting them to want what we know they need, is telling them about what we provide in
a way that matches their needs... i.e. we
21. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Stop talking UX!
* Harbor Way by Davide Cassanello via Flickr
Stop talking UX!
We need to talk to them in ways that show the clear advantage to them of having us involved.
Use terms like
• Time saved from having to do rework
• Money saved
• More revenue
• Better customer satisfaction
So we stop talking UX and THEN we have to
22. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
* beruhrung by westpark via Flickr
Intersect with the right customers at the right time... and to be honest with you, I’m not sure who this is
for everyone. For me what I have found is that many of my customers are businesses that lack
process, that need direction, not just a resource to pump out deliverables. So I will go out and ﬁnd
these people by networking, etc.
I think that UX as a whole has to take a step back and determine who the right customers are for us...
perhaps an idea for another talk.
Once we intersect with the right people we ﬁnally...
23. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013* Harbor Way by Davide Cassanello via Flickr* Via http://www.weziwezi.com/
By Informing the customer in their own language we have empowered our them to make an informed
decision about what we do and how UX is important outside of just a deliverable space. We no longer
expect them to rely on moral good or faith that what we are saying is correct, but give them the
information they need to feel conﬁdent that UX is the answer.
Once our customers can make an empowered decision based on us showing them that 1. we know
what the need, and 2. we can provide what they need, we have made them want what we know they
need. and THAT is how you sell UX!
Once the customer is empowered and decided THEN you can bring the UX jargon, because you’ve
already sold them. UX jargon is for explanation mode, not sales mode.
How do I know this will work? Because I have been watching a secret experiment play out over the last
decade which proves my point to a tee. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to let this secret out, but I trust you
guys not to tell anyone outside of this room. The secret experiment that proves my point?? I”m not sure
if you guys have heard of it...
24. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
How do you think these people sold all of this jargon and hoopla? Well not by saying we need to have a
backlog and a discover sessions and bla bla.
• They understood their user - business that were being overrun with tech costs and timelines and
wanted and needed to save time and money.
• Used language to make the user want what they knew they needed - they said “we are gonna build
software that is better, cheaper and takes less time to create”. They sold money, time, cost... they know
that’s what business people want to hear about and that’s what they put out there.
• They found the right user at the right time (big money companies with huge over operationalized
technology departments) THEN doing all this they Empowered the customer to make the decision to
• THEN said oh and we have all this other stuff we do to make this work... is that OK? and of course the
customer said yes!!
By doing these things:
1. Understanding what our business customer’s need and what helps make their jobs/lives easier... i.e.
knowing what is valuable to them.
2. Presenting options to them to meet that value without talking UX
3. Empowering them to make what we know is the right decision
we in effect
4. Teaching them to want what we know they need
25. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
Tell story of new client approaching me
Tell story of how I would try to sell this in the past
Tell story of how I stopped talking UX this time
The outcome of me using this approach?
26. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
UX Sales Success!
I was able to sell UX as a strategic platform and not a deliverable based exercise.
My team’s deliverables? An MVP… you may be thinking what does that look like?
- The greatest part: we were the ones to deﬁne that… we weren’t tied to deliverables, we were tied to
deliver meaning and strategy
By talking to the value of what UX provides, as opposed to talking UX, I made UX a necessity to
starting this guy’s business.
27. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
- We talked about a lot today. We talked about Dave and how he tried to sell annuities by pushing his
views onto his customers
- We likened this to us selling UX today as consultants, agencies and in-housers
- We deﬁned the term talking UX
" - We saw that doing so has caused our ﬁeld a great deal of angst
- We reviewed how we use UX thinking to stop talking UX and start selling our value,
- And we saw how this results in bringing UX to a level we all have been waiting for.
- But when you leave here today, if you remember one thing and one thing only, I want you to
28. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
UX is not sellable
" - UX is not a deliverable, it’s not something that we Sell to our clients
" - UX itself is not what we sell, no you see
29. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
" - What we sell is customer value, and the way we bring customers value is through our process and
through deliverables, but the way that we sell that value is in the language of our customer.
" - So the next time you are in a meeting with Dave, don’t talk to him about what deliverables you
create, about how UX can make things easier for his users and he should morally want to do that.
" " - You tell Dave how your process brings him more value, how working with you and your ﬁeld
gets him to his goals.
" " - Then, and only then UX will we...
30. UX Cambridge 2013 @lishubert September 5, 2013
* Untitled by Andres Musta via Flickr
stop building these damn annuities apps. and start doing real UX work.