UX Tip #3: Why should a UX designer possess a broad education?
Software products are becoming more and more dependent on great UX on their path to success. We all shift from referring to MVP (Eric Ries' famous Minimum Viable Product) towards MLP (Sam Altman's Minimum Lovable Product).
Here's Sam's lecture about building startup products (start at minute 00:15).
The reason for that shift towards MLP is that when software was focused solely on B2B markets, the users were business users, and were paid to do their job, by using software, thus it was reasonable to assume that they'll read the guide, and 'fight' the GUI, to complete their tasks. Software brought great productivity through automation, and those who could adopt and use it, earned more money. Those who couldn’t, lost their jobs eventually.
When offering software tools to consumers, automation and productivity are not the top priority. Actually, joy and interest are way above them. So, in order to appeal to consumers, design is a must.
But this need for great design started to disseminate to B2B software too, especially in the world of SaaS (Software as a Service). Why is that?
Because instead of a skilled sales person, that sells the software to an organization for a high markup price (which embeds training, updates, development of additional features, support, etc.) and of course that sales person’s commission, now for $19.99 per month, you could decide if you’re happy with that SaaS application, and if not, cancel it… As simple as that. No procurement committees, no annual budgets, just stop those credit card payments.
So, a SaaS application needs to know how to market itself, sell its service, bill it, train the user, support him, etc.
Each of these disciplines is critical to close the monetary loop, and if one of the steps is broken, money stops coming in, sooner or later.
So, if we were satisfied 20 years ago with a useful, user friendly, visually appealing, quick responce application, the threshold has moved much higher these days…
And in order to teach the robot (our application) how to do those tasks well, we must first master them ourselves. So, product managers and UX designers must understand for instance, how to create that trust and appeal needed in order to make a sale, before they can pass it to the application. Naturally, a person that never sold anything in his life, and doesn’t understand and empathize with the buyer, understands his fears, and knows how to arouse his desire, will not do a good job, in making his sales page convert very well.
I would argue, that although there might be a team of hundreds working concurrently on a product, in the end, the product's UX is very much a reflection of its UX designer (similar to a movie, who is a reflection of its director, although thousdands may participate in its making).
So, if you had the choice, wouldn't you prefer Steven Spielberg to direct your next blockbuster?
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