Building an Enterprise UX Team

Illustration of blocks representing enterprise UX building

Constraints inspire innovation. Jason Fried, in Getting Real encourages you to, “Let limitations guide you to creative solutions.”  That’s exciting because  I have a spit ton of limitations to work around. Firstly as an organization our UX Maturity Model (UXMM) scores are low. UX is important to the organization however our team will need to prove the value of UX before formalized programs emerge. We are also working with limited budget and personnel resources. Did I mention I work remotely, 2,861 miles from the mother-ship.  Lots of opportunity to get creative.

Enterprise UX team structure comes in two flavors, centralized or decentralized. A centralized UX team will generally consist of specialists in the fields of information architecture, visual design, research, usability and font-end development. This team is run as an internal consultancy. Team members are assigned to projects or to departments based on need.  The centralized model assumes  your organization has a high level of UX maturity. In this scenario UX is a core tenet and budgets are in place. This pattern is not going to work given our defined constraints. This may be for the best. The research I have done leads me to believe a centralized team may not be the best solution to getting the real work done anyway. If you are interested in this topic there is a lively conversation going on over at LinkedIn Central vs. distributed UX teams in the enterprise.

Given the  zero budget and existing resources only constraints the team structure is going to have to follow a decentralized UX team model. The  team size will be 5-7 members. Team members will remain embedded within their existing functional groups, performing their current activities while working UX as a bit of a skunk works.

How the beep do I build a team from existing resources? Historically there have been very little direct design resource hires in our organization. There are two design specialists by title that I can cherry pick spread between functional groups. I can get creative to fill out the rest of the roster. Over the years I have worked with a few folks who were already running UCD like activities within their silos. There is a content strategist hidden in training, an information architect in the marcomm group,  a visual designer in business solutions as well as a few empathetic minds in QA and development. I can throw in our brand specialist and a Lean Six Sigma black belt. The team is looking pretty solid on paper. Next step is to contact each candidate on the list, see if I can sell them on the idea and get this initiative kicked-off.




When Management Says Yes to UX

Enterprise UX can feel like a sisyphean task at times
It has felt like a Sisyphean task at times. Speaking user centered design into an engineering dominated enterprise organization is never easy. For 4 years I have been speaking in silly persona names, “what would Andy Admin do”, sketching, prototyping and coaching off-shore development teams. Begging for sprint reviews. Pleading for a first look. Give me something before code complete to test and a cycle to iterate on it before we ship.

During this time I have converted some to the UCD way, found allies in other silos and irritated a host of others. Change has come slow until recently. In the beginning there where sporadic rumblings about “delighting the customer.” Those rumblings turned into frequent proclamations regarding “creating insanely great products.” Then it happened,  a straight up mandate to become a “customer first” organization. Gulp… management is saying yest to UX. Not a big budget mandate kind of yes, a yes none the less.

A little overwhelmed, mostly excited, embarking on this process of introducing UX in the enterprise. Where to start…

Photo Credits


How much business does your site generate, you don’t know do you

Unless you are running an online commerce business it can be difficult to track Web sales from contact to conversion. Mike Moran over at has some ideas for how you can get started.

If you are currently doing nothing I would recommend at a minimum a dedicated phone number, contact email address and a CRM solution. If your reading my blog I know you don’t have a salesforce budget but there are wonderful CRM solutions out there that won’t drain your wallet, try Highrise or Zoho CRM

After you find out what your site is really worth to your business give me a call and we will do that update you have been putting off.

Design for SEO 10 Tips You Can Use Today

1. Don’t embed keywords in images

2. Name pages like your organic SEO depends on it

3. Unique title tags and meta descriptions only

4. What do you look like without your styles on

5. Load time matters compress compress compress

6. Mark up clean, mean and semantic

7. Design every page like it is the only page your visitors will ever see

8. Focus your page rank power with rel=”nofollow”

9. Content is still king

10. Invite in the robots

11. Simple to navigate is simple to crawl

Cyber Monday Campaign Tip

Fall is a busy time of year for online retailers and marketers. Legions of designer elves are busily crafting emails, homepage graphics, banners and buttons. In their frenzy to create the prefect campaign many often forget to appease the mighty long tail of search. When your landing page is not always your home page is your offer visible? If it’s not it should be and here is why.

The Campaign

I recently built an exclusive offer for an eCommerce client from one of their best selling brands. They have had success in the past running the standard campaign components: email, homepage, social media, banners and buttons for their affiliate program, etc.

As launch day approached I wanted to try something different and pitched a “Product Page Offer” as an additional component. This offer would run in the header and would be visible across all pages of the site. I based this pitch on long tail traffic patterns and the idea that with search your landing page is not always your home page.

Product Page Offer

Product Page Offer

Am I glad I did. The results of the test where not at all what I expected. Based on historical patterns I assumed the email component would have the best conversion rates, followed by homepage, social, product page and affiliate.

The results

The results of the campaign turned my theories upside down. The “Product Page Offer” converted at an unbelievable 34%. It made email, the home page offer and our social campaign look like a joke. It was such a powerful converter they could have run with just that one offer and made more then all of the other components combined. Check out the numbers for yourself

The Results

The Results

Cyber Monday Tip

Make sure your offer is plastered across every page of your site, this holiday season I will be doubling the space I allocate for this type of offer.

Next Steps

If you are feeling understaffed or having trouble executing your holiday playbook. Take my landing page optimization service for a test drive and watch your conversion rates soar.