User Experience: Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know

Shama TV: Episode 33

Shama sits down with Keith LaFerriere, Chief Experience Officer at Verndale to discuss the importance of UX in today’s world.


Click here for the full transcript!

Shama: Hey guys welcome to Shama TV. We are at the Dallas Digital Summit and I have a special guest, Keith LaFerriere who is Chief Experience Officer [at Verndale]. We are very lucky to have Keith with us today and we’re talking about a most misunderstood topic matter which is user experience. Can you please define for us what is user experience?

Keith: Sure, there’s a lot of levels to it. The first one is just understanding what encompasses user experience. First off, it’s a level of discipline for many different myriad of products and services and all the design techniques that go with it. You start with information architecture or experience architecture to you set the stage and build the foundation. You move onto interaction design and layout and structure and sometimes bridge into the visual design or visual design into HTML build depending on who you are what your agency is what you do.

Shama: Hearing this some people might say: oh so this is for technical products or this is only for you know anyone doing anything with design or this is for software. That’s really not true these days, is it? I feel like UX, how we interact what is that experience look like for customers for users for clients, I feel like that’s really broad. Would you agree?

Keith: Yeah, it’s broad and it applies to everything which is the other misnomer is that UX is a web discipline or couple of disciplines. From the time you’re a baby and learn how to open a door with a doorknob, that’s user experience. If you can really fine tune the approach to doing something in the easiest most beautiful way, you’ve really understood what user experience is and it applies to everything. What also happens is that people confuse it with customer experience which is the overarching thread through everything. Customer experience being from cradle to grave and user experience being the usability and the beauty and the usefulness of the things that you interact with on a daily basis.

Shama: So customer experience would be from someone who comes in and buys the product, the whole process?

Keith: Yes, the overarching entire journey.

Shama: And you are saying user experience would be specifically how they interact?

Keith: Yeah so user experience really applies to the…there is a strategy for it that ladders up to hopefully your overall customer experience. But it’s really a discipline to train and create tactics out of the strategies. So how am I gonna have someone sign up or onboard for a new product? How am I going to have them sign up for our website? Where does the email signup go to? All the way through navigation and call outs and video playing and all that stuff. It gets very deep very quick.

Shama: So who owns this and who should on this in an organization?

Keith: That’s a great question. It’s still pretty desperate in terms of thinking on who should own this process. If you’re part of an agency it’s the digital group. If you’re part of a larger organization it’s primarily either under an IT function that has the keys to the kingdom on the website or its the CMO who has all the money for the budget and marketing. It really just depends on what type of organization you work for.

Shama: So do you think it matters who owns it as long as someone owns it and there’s accountability for it?

Keith: That’s a great question. Somebody has to own it that has the money and the influence to make great things happen for your brand. It does not matter to me if the IT person has the budget to do it as long as they really couple tightly with the CMO to get stuff done. So as long as they’re both at the table that’s great.

Shama: I feel like this is a rising career. You see more of this, on LinkedIn for instance. Let’s say someone wants to go into this side, what’s the career trajectory? We have a lot of young people who tune in, so what would be your advice to someone who says the sounds fascinating and I have an eye for this? How do you hone something like this and how do you really turn it into a skill set?

Keith: If you’re young and just starting out pick what really interests you the most and go for it. You could be an Information Architect where you’re really trying to build the foundation, you could be an amazing creative designer and that’s your role within UX, you can also be a project manager that understands UX disciplines. It’s not a niche one thing anymore and there are so many opportunities within the UX discipline that you could pick almost anything at this point and really run with it.

Shama: So really get picked something within the broader group, yeah and then like hone in on that?

Keith: Absolutely.

Shama: Ok that’s great. For companies who are saying: in 2016 we really need to do an overhaul of user experience, where do they start?

Keith: It always starts with with the content because you don’t design just a website or an experience, you design content to go into these experiences and make sure that you are communicating right way. I typically tell clients to start with: what is the problem you’re trying to solve? Either you’re not bringing in enough revenue, you’re not converting customers quickly enough, you’re not selling right products, or conversely everything’s going great and you actually want to add five products to your pipeline – how do you even do that? It’s the same process believe it or not. It starts at the brand level understanding what the communication goals are then works its way into each communication piller across each delivery mechanism. So it could be a website, it could be an app, it could be anything. It could be your social media strategy.

Shama: I love that. Start with your content and with your goals and then look at what needs to be done. Alright Keith if you could wave a magic wand and tomorrow, not for a million dollars, but can wave a magic wand and you could erase any misconception about UX, like you will wake up tomorrow and people who would not have that misconception what would it be?

Keith: Believe it or not that it’s not important; that’s the misconception that I would get rid of. There are a lot of IT individuals maybe, no offense to anyone, or other departments that believe that UX is really just a frilly design role you just really design role and it really doesn’t matter. It matters quite a bit and it actually has a huge impact on your bottom line. I would wave away the misconception that it’s not important as much as they think it is.

Shama: I love that because competition’s growing, because people have a higher bar right for what they expect, I think that’s contributed a lot. I mean we’re used to a certain level now of ease that we expect and if that’s not a given I feel like people will pull back.

Keith: Think about this: a person growing up on the web right now has ten times the expectations that we did growing up the web, so they’re already going into the experience thinking that it’s gonna do X Y and Z and we still have hundreds of thousands of companies that aren’t up to par yet. There’s a lot of work out there still and a lot of effort that needs to be done and still a lot of education about what needs to happen.

Shama: Well we’re glad we have you, Keith.

Keith: Aww, thanks!

Shama: Thanks so much for making a splash in the UX world and keeping us educated. Alright guys be sure to subscribe so you can catch all our content from the Dallas Digital Summit and we’ll see you soon.


–Episode Links–


–Episode Tweetables–

From the time you are a baby and learn how to open a door with a doorknob: that’s #UX. @Shama @KDLBoston Click To Tweet If I could wave a magic wand, I would change the misconception that #UX isn’t important! @Shama @KDLBoston Click To Tweet A person growing up on the web right now has 10 times the expectation we had growing up. @Shama @KDLBoston Click To Tweet


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