Strategies to get UX work funded

Client loyalty expert Andrew Sobel recently put out a newsletter on “18 strategies to get funded“.

This got us thinking about how to apply the strategies to selling user experience work in a tough economic climate.  Here are some of our highlights:

    • Redefine the issue so that it attracts the necessary funds. Are we trying to pitch for usability or information architecture work or are we defining the work we do as increasing website sales or reducing the cost of customer support?
    • Add more value to the overall package. Related to the strategy above.  Maybe we need to do more than just usability work itself to solve the problem of lagging website sales or low conversion rates.  Most of us are not only good at user experience, but we are good problem solvers – which makes us good at user experience.
    • Appeal to an important personal “win” of the buyer. Sometimes people just want websites to “look” good.  Can we satisfy that desire without compromising good usability?  You bet.  In other cases, maybe the buyer just wants to show how sophisticated he/she is to other stakeholders.  Fine, talk up the process and research.  It helps that what we do actually delivers results also.
    • Combine budgets to fund your program. Now is the time to work with other industries and departments.  Joint bid with market research agencies, IT providers, management consultants.  Our goal after all is to solve problems, not just to make something more usable.
    • Restructure the project to meet their budget. Do we really have to do everything in our finely tuned UCD process?  Finding out what is most important to the client and which core activities will meet that goal can be extremely fruitful.
    • Tie your work more closely to quantifiable revenue increases or cost reductions. This has tended to be been extremely difficult for user experience work.  At other times, it’s easy to quantify and measure the effects of what we do.  Doing this will really help with making sure our focus is on solving a business problem.
    • Tie your fee to results. Scary.  But why shouldn’t we when we can measure the outcomes and we’re confident about the value of our work?
    • Provide ongoing advice to keep the discussion going. It is amazing how much value we can provide by sitting down with someone for 30 minutes and talking through a design.  By not worrying too much about providing the ‘perfect’ solution, we can keep the discussion going.

      Thanks to Andrew Sobel for the permission to quote his material.

      1. I’ve always struggled with the ‘Appeal to an important personal “win” of the buyer’. This type of advice seems to be quoted in every sales book, but I’m not sure you actually find out this information.

        “So tell me, are you interested in showing how smart you are in front of your colleagues? Are you trying to progress up the career ladder? Are you biding time until you retire so you can spend time on your true love, your tennis game?”

        I guess you can solicit this type of stuff by asking questins like – “what does success look like for you”, but it’s not till you head to the pub until you get anything really personal.

        Thanks Sam/Andrew – great advice.

        Trent Mankelow 02/05/2009