UX is a highly complex set of research tools and outputs, the use of which is dependant upon time, cost and the clients willingness to accept them.
Question 1, why are you there?
If the client were to think in best practice terms which for them would deliver exactly what they require then everyone would have a great experience of the process. Unfortunately it is pretty much a given that clients want to prove themselves knowledgable about well everything, in control and this is one of the main problems. I often hear clients say “I understand our users” or “I built this company so I know what users want” maybe they did or used to, but the fact they have called in an agency or consultancy means they don’t anymore. What clients mostly mean is I have my agenda and I want you to listen to it and agree with me. That way is the road to mediocrity.
What does the client really want?
It’s worth at this point asking the client what they want out of the process. If they only want a pat on the head and to be told they are great, best to give them that, do the job get paid and don’t put it on your CV.
If the client (really) wants their products or services to have higher impact, increased transactions, market share and gain advantage, then explain what your doing, how they gain and that great ux will fundamentally change how they work.
Question 2, what does your client understand about what your doing there?
UX is not UI, the experience is not only the interface, it’s what you can do with the interface, what tasks can be completed, what data can be inputted, transformed or called into the UI.
The real sales pitch for real UX
The pitch to a new client is not we can make your product or service like your competitors it’s “we can make your offering stand out from the crowd”. Great ux is about shouting over the noise and changing the rules, “don’t catch up – great ux creates the opportunity to jump ahead”.
Question 3, how will your client know they have succeeded?
This is not a KPI hunt, clients are not really interested in you proving success, they already have their own success metrics, strategic plans and objectives they need to report up the chain. They may not be able to directly tell you as these things are highly confidential the important thing from an engagement perspective is can you work them out? Then can you articulate these back to the client in ux terms.
The real job of UX, find out about the users.
The real job of ux is to align the business with the users, from the user perspective. Users ask “what’s in it for me”, “what do I personally gain”. This means that user research is required by the clients customers, in order to work out what they want for from the business in order to take up their services or buy their products, how they will want to interact and what they will give the business for a relationship.