Our takeaways from this year’s Visma UX & Service Design Days

The Visma UX & Service Design Days in Oslo were a first-time event for us at Raet. We were the newbies, eager to meet this design community of 90+ people that we’d heard so much about since the acquisition. After interesting talks, workshops and a little team building, we learnt a lot about the Visma UX community. In this blog post we will discuss our takeaways from those two days.

If there’s one thing I took away from the event, it’s this:

We all share in the same challenges, struggles and issues

I discovered that we (Raet) are not alone when it comes to getting company stakeholders to see the value in UX. The importance and involvement of UX in our corporations with such major legacies, is not at the level it should be. Both our small UX team at Raet, and larger counterpart in Visma, are struggling to make things like user research, service design and co-creation a fundamental part of the product development process. But why? And how do we go about solving this?

I think it starts with our vision

During those UX & Service Design Days we were handed a booklet called ‘Service design @Visma’. I love the book, but I want to ignore the process itself for a moment because I feel there is something more important to bring attention to.

The first two pages of the book include our UX vision and goal: “Visma’s cloud and mobile services are the market leaders in providing meaningful, relevant and easy to use solutions that exceed customer expectations!” and “Create the best customer experience in accounting services that exceed our customer’s expectations.”

For me, this vision should be inspirational and deeply connected to the company values and history… But that’s not how I feel when I read it. When pulling it apart, the first thing I ask myself is: “What does that mean?” I think all companies want the ‘best customer experience’ or to be a ‘market leader’ or to ‘exceed customer expectations’. These are generic statements and, by articulating something as important as a vision in this way, we often find ourselves having to explain exactly what we mean, making the message less powerful, less meaningful.

If a friend asked, “Who is Visma?”, “What are you guys trying to do?”, could we tell a compelling story using these pages? Would we all be able to tell the same story?

I think a vision works best when it’s framed as a value, or a belief that the company and its people embody. I miss that in our current statement. We first need to start with the ‘why’, and then work back to the ‘what’ and ‘how’, to connect it personally and culturally to Visma. (If you want to read more about the power of ‘why’, take a look at this great talk by Simon Sinek). I don’t think Raet is any better at this. I think we’re dealing with the same issues, so we’re not alone in this struggle to define who and what we are all about; but I’m convinced we can do better.

A really great vision speaks for itself. It’s a crucial way to connect the organization together, pull everyone in the same direction and provide guidance during the heat of day-to-day sprints and deliverables. If we want design to be taken seriously and get involved in the right discussions across the business, I think we need to understand where the company is at, what the business strategy is and play our part in supporting that. ‘Cutting against the grain’ will only have the opposite effect.

Each team may have its specific goals, constraints and issues, but when something doesn’t feel right, we should be able to sense it, point it out and bring things back on track. In UX we often talk about ‘a north star’, typically referenced in a product context (“We need a north star for [insert product name here]”). I would argue that our vision should be our true north star. What else is there, besides what we stand for?

So, how can we do better?

During the UX & Service Design Days, a lot of us talked about struggling to make UX a priority; about the maturity of design in the organization. So, it might be a good strategy to build the user into our vision statement. Our impact should be felt here, but we’ll fail unless we manage to turn this vision into something more than jargon and buzzwords. The great thing? We have the skills, tools and methods to help the business describe it better.

We also need to include stakeholders outside of the UX community in those UX & Service Design Days; invite them to the club. We need to share those same talks about service design and co-creation with the people who don’t know what it is or need to see the value in it. We already know how important it is, but we need to help others see it. And that starts with being our best advocates and sharing the message.

What do you think about all this? Would you be up for the challenge of working on a better vision together?

 

About the authors

Iain Harrison, Lead Product Designer

Iain Harrison is the Lead Product Designer for the public market and ‘common’ development domain at Raet. His background is in the online retail and travel sectors, and he worked in London before moving to Spain recently to start a family.

 

Ardena Gonzalez, Content Designer

Ardena Gonzalez works as a Content Designer in the UX team at Raet. She started out as a copywriter in eCommerce and startups, but has now dived into the world of UX writing. Her next step is a UX bootcamp to learn more about product design and user research.

Iain Harrison is the Lead Product Designer for the public market and ‘common’ development domain at Raet. His background is in the online retail and travel sectors, and he worked in London before moving to Spain recently to start a family.
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