User experience consultants often have difficulty explaining exactly what it is they are doing. For the most part, people see them as people who help them understand their customer needs when applied to the digital world. However, they offer far more than just insight. They help client companies in several ways, of which three are briefly explained.
The UX consultant helps the client company with the complete strategy development. Improvement in user experience requires focused effort and is not an overnight process. It can even mean extensive organisational change. It requires an understanding of what is offered and who the user is. It furthermore entails matching the product or service offering with the right users and finding those users to help test the product or service.
It is about stakeholder meetings and sufficient research to understand the client’s business before the user experience can be addressed. The consultant does all of the above and helps to draft the long-term vision for user experience, creating a map of what needs to be done to reach the user experience goals. The recommendations form the basis of the strategic plan for improvement.
When it comes to digital products, such as websites, mobile apps, and software, it is often only possible to improve the user experiences once prototypes have been built and tested. In some instances, the best approach may not be immediately visible, and for it to work, various approaches must be tested. To this end, the consultant may need to build a prototype for the testing of the various features and ultimately, the user experience. Even before this can happen, the consultant must perform an audit on the existing product of the client, if it is already in use. The audit is a type of gap analysis, helping to identify shortcomings. In some instances, a completely new design is required, but for most part, the problem areas can be addressed.
Perhaps the most important role is that of helping the client understand the target audience. There is often a gap between what the company perceives the customer wants and what the reality is. This is where the consultant plays a key role. The consultant uses many methods, from surveys and interviews to product tests and other tools for analysis of what the user experience is and what it should be.