Designers as Ambassadors: Knowing Your Client

Author by Emma Hurth

In my short time at Concurrency, I have been involved in the vital role we serve as the bridge between our clients and our developers.  The nature of our work as UX designers puts us in a unique position to speak one-on-one with our clients to determine not only their branding and culture, but also their day-to-day needs and future goals.  These things are sometimes left unexplored outside of design roles, but they are crucial to providing superior services and promoting further work with our customers.
 

SAVVY CLIENTS

With every passing day, technology weaves itself further and further into every aspect of work and leisure, and with this advancement comes an added challenge for IT providers.  Clients are becoming increasingly familiar with application functionality and are only getting better at identifying poor design or “out-of-the-box” elements.  It is not longer viable to merely install and train employees in the functions of a new application.  It is standard to have a degree of customization to best suit their brand, as well as surface the data and functions most useful to them.  This role of UX, as well as adding a concrete value to out services, also has an additional vital benefit…
 

DOODLING

On my very first day as an intern at Concurrency, I was sitting in on a call with a client.  First-day-jitters aside, this was also my first exposure to the design process of my project champion, Damon Sanchez.  He came into the meeting with a OneNote page of neatly drawn doodles of the client’s app and just started talking.  He shared out his screen and kept doodling and iterating until the client was content with what he saw on the page.  It was not the first design meeting Damon had done with this client, far from it, but as a silent bystander I learned so much about their company and needs from that one meeting that I quickly felt like an expert.  “We prefer to be called consultants, not inspectors,” can tell you so much about a company’s core values, and knowing this information puts our team in a special place within Concurrency.  It’s the nature of the beast that we cannot simply call up the client every time something comes up during the design and development process. Due to our close work and thorough communication with them, however, we can fill in these gaps.  The details may need to be altered at a later date, but a client always notices the investment in their business that those little additions demonstrate.
 

ABOVE AND BEYOND

In my time with Concurrency I have seen the UX/UI team expanding into several new areas within the company’s large scope of projects.  A shopping app has expanded from odds-and-ends usability guides all the way to a full app re-design with plans for future expansion.  I was involved in creating some custom CSS and HTML for a CRM web portal in Microsoft Dynamics, a task usually handled entirely by our Modern Apps team.  Learning the basic development process of these portals means that in the future UX can get involved with similar projects and add the level of customization and value that we specialize in with SharePoint to more parts of Concurrency’s workload.  Our team has also been involved in the potential onboarding of a client, going above-and-beyond expectations to produce two versions of a high-fidelity application mock-up.  The company intended to pitch a dashboard to their executives and wanted something to show them as a proof of concept, maybe two or three layouts.  My team and I went what could be considered “overboard”, reading through dozens of pages of technical documentation and reports to get a feel for the potential client’s work and needs.  In the span of three days we produced ten layouts that fully fleshed out the scope of the project and would give the executives a solid grasp of what their teams needed from an application.  The feedback we received from that meeting was spectacular, and further emphasized the importance of our ability as designers to immerse ourselves into our clients’ worlds and pull out something that they can find great value in.
 

TIME AND TALKING

We “produce” quite a bit at Concurrency, and as a newcomer to the world of IT consulting, I am constantly surprised to learn what my co-workers on other teams are providing for our clients.  At the end of the day however, we are still “consultants”.  That means we get paid for two core things… Time and talking.  It takes time to make what we make, and it takes a lot of talking to get it right.  I’m sure our neighboring teams can attest, no one talks more than the UX crew, and we put that talent to constant use.  We know our clients on the one-on-one level, and we genuinely want them to have the best experience possible with the designs we produce for them as well as with Concurrency as a whole.  Being their voice within our company is the part of UX that isn’t limited to just one kind of project and looking forward I hope to fill that role for many new clients to come.