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Don’t Forget the User in User Experience (UX)

In technology projects decisions are often solely based from the sponsor's perspective, unintentionally not keeping the end user in focus. When the end user becomes secondary to what the sponsor wants, this increases the risk of having the end product not meet the desired needs.

A user-centric engagement keeps the user in focus for all decisions that are critical to the success of the final product. The user is the priority in DevFacto’s user experience activities is core to how DevFacto works for our clients. Often people confuse, underestimate, and undervalue the overall potential impact of User Experience (UX) engagement. The most significant and common misunderstanding of UX is that UX is only the visual “how.” The visual how of how the solution looks, matches the brand, and the overall final visual elements layout that make the product “pretty” to a digital engagement for a problem that was weeks, months or years in the making.

Take a minute. Now think of the worst website or app experiences you’ve had.

  • Can you list them? 
  • Was the website or app visually unappealing, or was the overall experience confusing? 
  • Did you go back to that site or delete the app?
  • Did you lose trust in that organization?
  • How much value did the organization lose?

Now consider the business perspective, how much time and resources were invested by the team building the site or app? Or the lost business opportunity with bad word of mouth and potential customers not returning to the site or app? Consider the project team on the poor experience, how they didn't invest enough time consistently early enough to gather, review and understand what was needed. The solution did not deliver value to the people who would be engaging with their product and in return the business value wasn’t realized by the company offering the solution. I often use this quote to highlight the need to put enough effort behind UX activities: “A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it's not that good.” Martin Leblanc.

In UX, the user is central to all decisions. Becoming empathetic, understanding perspective, realizing what changes need to be adopted, and developing solutions collaboratively reduces the risk of the product not being adopted by your intended users.

The best user experience is one that isn’t realized at all by the end-user. UX is about understanding the entire journey, and it is about knowing where the user is coming from, where they genuinely need to go and the path to get there as efficiently as possible. UX is concerned with finding and applying visual solutions, but the true strength of leveraging UX early on a regular cadence in any engagement is to understand the true core problems. Discovering and validating the core issues informs how we can build solutions specific to the identified concerns, solutions that align with the business goals and objectives of the sponsors. The visual design, how the user interacts with the solution, are only two elements that are required to build an exceptional user experience. An excellent description example on the factors that influence UX can be further found here.

In order to have a meaningful and valuable experience the solution must be 

  • Useful
  • Useable
  • Desirable
  • Findable
  • Accessible
  • Credible

Our remote and hybrid working model has required us to pivot on our new personal and business realities. Understanding what this means for organizations and individuals with limited experience working remotely or on a hybrid model is critical to ensure these groups find opportunities to deliver the same business value and experience for their stakeholders and team members. Understanding the type of actions required to complete the business value, understanding the skills and experience gap, and knowing how to narrow the gaps and achieve their business goals though these respective actions are critical to avoid “worst website or app experience.” 

With consistently applied UX activities you have the ability to gain an understanding of this skill and experience gap which will inform stronger recommendations. UX activities reduce the risk of creating a poor experience, ideally creating an improved experience. UX activities support narrowing the knowledge gaps and confirming understanding. The artifacts that are developed such as (proto) personas, experience maps, user journey maps and user flows provide the information for recommendations to achieve the desired business goal. I will explore UX artifacts and their value in greater detail in a future article. 

When working with DevFacto our purpose is “Transforming ideas into software humans love”. By working with us and following our UX embedded processes, we reduce the risk of a poor end experience that creates an overall bad memory for you, our partner, and your stakeholders. A proper user-centric engagement keeps the user in focus for all decisions that are critical to the success of the final product. The user is DevFacto’s focus and we ensure business value for our partners through a strong overall experience. 



About the author

Stjepan Balenovic is our User Experience & Design Practice Manager in Edmonton, Alberta. He has a background in visual design, eLearning and project delivery. He is a graduate from the University of Alberta, a child of immigrant parents who taught him to appreciate what you’re given and work for what you want. He loves music, architecture, friends, family and is still a designer at heart and unintentional royalty. You can follow him on Linkedin.


About the artist

Richelle Bourbeau is a 3D animation and VFX artist working in Edmonton, AB. In addition to 3D animation and VFX, she has a passion for both traditional and digital painting and illustrations.

For this piece she writes, "I wanted to convey a good user experience that puts the user first. My mind immediately went to every Saturday morning cartoon I've seen as a kid. The scene where the hero would hop on a computer, press exactly the right buttons and save the day stood out to me."



Garrett, Jesse James and Morville, Peter (November 25, 2021) User Experience Basics.