Why front to back

This is a blog about user experience design.

Good user experience design is important. It makes us happy with the products and services we use, and it brings prosperity to the companies who deliver them. Designers, developers, marketers, managers and business leaders all need to understand user experience to achieve long term success.

Good user experience design is hard. To do it right we often need to turn thinking, processes and organisations around and make them operate from a new perspective.

Very often we think only about the “back” of the business when we’re creating products and services. We think about the different departments in our organisation. We think about whether the product will be easy to develop. We think about getting customers quickly so that we can hit this quarter’s target. We design in all the things our product technology can do, regardless of whether those things are useful.

But whether we’re designers, developer or marketers, we’re users too. We all buy and use products and services made by other organisations. And as users, we find ourselves at the “front” of their user experiences.

Those preconceptions held at the back of the business define, often accidentally, what we end up experiencing up there at the front. The website reflects the arcane organisational structure of the company. Customer service staff don’t solve our problem because they are trying to shorten call durations. The product has 26 advanced functions, none of which does what we really need. Back to front thinking delivers ugly user experiences.

This blog is about designing user experiences the right way around: from front to back. That means working with your users to understand what they want and need, designing user experiences that balance those needs against business needs and changing organisations to enable all of that to happen.

Like I said, good user experience design is hard. But to your users the experience they have there at the front is the business. If the experience is ugly, they won’t come back. And without customers, your business can’t exist.