Ana Popa
February 25, 2021

What can a UX consultant do for your business🥦 ?

A doctor and a nurse

The role of User Experience consultant is not new but lately has been popping up more. That could be because:

  • the fast increase of “Become a UX designer in 24 weeks” boot camps, which delivers hundreds of UX designers in the market. This somehow forced other designers to take a step up and offer a more holistic approach to products/companies.
  • the extensive opportunities that technology offers to designers to get niched in one area and then offer their expertise to more companies.
  • deep knowledge gained along with experience, which makes a designer to be overqualified for the job.

In addition to a UX designer, a UX consultant should bring to the table a deeper understanding of the “bigger picture” which includes strategy, ecosystem, culture, and utility.

nothing that is worth knowing can be taught
Oscar Wilde

So what more can an UX consultant do for your business:

1. Audit — product, website, app and strategy

There is a set of knowledge that (hopefully) every designer acquires in time about user behavior, best practices, human psychology, common mistakes, and strategy. The design principles and strategies that prove trustworthy become part of the mindset. Therefore it becomes abundantly clear for a UX consultant when things don’t work, EVER. Those are the “low hanging fruits” of your product.

Getting the expertise of a UX consultant to audit your product before improving it or test it with users can:

  • save time
  • get more accurate test results
  • result in a strategy for short/long time improvements
  • give you a fresh understanding of how your product is perceived by others
  • increase conversion

2. Focus on the bigger picture

A clear view of your product can determine its life span and your next move. Whether your product is in the idea stage or already into the market, a UX consultant can help you define the mission, values and the goal of your product.

Usually, most of what is needed to know it already exists within the company. The only thing required is tackling the brains of key people, asking the right questions and notice where the gaps are. When you know where the pain points are, then you know what needs more love. The gaps are filled by research, which includes user interviews, surveys and review analytics.

A rule of thumb is for every one dollar invested in User Experience research you save $10 in development and $100 in post-release maintenance.”
Marie Karat, UX and IBM researcher

The challenge then is not gathering data, but more how to represent it in a useful way? Commonly, a UX consultant will illustrate all the insights through:

  • journey map — which identifies the pains and the joyful points of your user.
  • storyboard — translates functionalities into real situations
  • empathy map — describes how the user feels when using your product
  • personas — presents your most complex, medium and easy user
  • SWOT — evaluates Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
  • user flow — represent how a user will complete the task
  • features roadmap — a timeline for functionalities that need to be developed in order to achieve the vision.

Conclusively, UX consultants help to gain a clearer understanding of your product from inside out.

3. Shape up your UX ecosystem

Few products live in isolation, instead, most of them live in the users’ ecosystem. A user ecosystem is composed of all elements (devices, tools, apps, products, websites, other people, weather, etc.) that a user interacts while using your product.

By considering not only the user but also the environment in which the user exchanges and uses information, you can design for a UX ecosystem.
Dave Jones

A UX Consultant can help you define how your product should position itself into the user’s environment, co-exist with other components of the ecosystem and be part of the community. This includes making use of the latest methodologies and technology to gather valuable data and feedback, which allow dealing with challenges as the ecosystem is changing and new pain points emerge.

4. Create the design system

Consistency and structure mean -> clean communication -> which leads to a better functioning team -> who assures a stable product.

The design system is the tool that keeps everyone on the same page, enforces consistency across the product and user experience.

It contains:

  • design principles — guidelines and definitions on how your company approaches designing product experience.
  • pattern library — UI elements that are used throughout the platform.
  • content style guide — a guide for copywriters ( content creators) about tone and voice across the product.

5. Inspire and coach

No man is an island (and designers are no exceptions.)
John Donne

There are a lot of tools for professional growth, such as online courses, classroom courses, conferences, reading materials, practice, etc. but it’s hard to overcome the fine-tuned set of skills that a UX coach could contribute to the team.
In fact, in most cases a UX consultant won’t coach the “ hard skills” of a designer, on the contrary he/she will focus more on the “soft skills”, mindset, way of thinking, strategy, etc. everything that a UX designer needs to bloom as a part of a bigger business.
Depending on the needs of the team, there are different formats of coaching like one to one, workshops and brainstorm sessions. Coaching brings a fresh look and feel, also it’s a powerful tool for developing your UX team.

Design is not how it looks, is how it works.
Steve Jobs

A UX Consultant looks at your business from inside out. He/She will go from your mission to your value proposition and business model, through your target audience and personas, all the way to your user flows, screens, and UI elements, to integrate them all in one ecosystem.

Don’t expect a UX consultant to have all the answers, but do expect him/her to help you find them all!

PS: Sulf has been recognised as a Top 30 Product Design Company in 2021 by DesignRush.

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