Tag Archives: elevator pitch

Getting sign off on a UX project in less than 60 seconds


Too often CEO’s or senior managers are too busy, or don’t see value in attending hours long usability sessions.  There are many tips and tricks to get them there, providing food, drinks, bribery, but often times it just isn’t feasible.  The truth is you don’t necessarily need them to be at these sessions to make them truly appreciate the value of your work.  Instead you can still create a high impact impression by extracting the most valuable, high impact clips from your usability sessions and instantly proving the major problems of your website.

Usability testing sessions

Watching anyone either continually fail or continually ease through a usability testing session can become a little tedious.  Watching multiple users can be even more tedious and time-consuming for even the most seasoned UX professional, let alone a senior manager who doesn’t really understand the process.  The danger could be that after one session or an hour with not much happening they decide to leave the recording session altogether with a poor impression of the day.  So why do we continue to try to make our managers attend long sessions that have the potential to hinder and not help our cause to get our managers attention?  If a manager sits in a session where the user has performed well and leaves, what will be their honest impression of the final bill for the day / weeks / months worth of work?  Will they understand the true ROI of the session? Perhaps not, and perhaps your chance of getting further budget has been fatally harmed.

Create impact

Many user testing participants have issues at the same section of a session.  Usually you will get at least one of these participants who will completely melt down at the same part of the session.  These moments can often be punctuated with the odd expletive, “sh*t, f*ck”, or a classic one liner like “Are you sure your website is not broken?”, or if you are lucky both “Your website is f*cked cos that is correct address and postcode combination”.  You absolutely have to use these moments to your advantage to create a high impact presentation in under 5 minutes.

Pick apart the video logs of your tests and find the moment where a user completely fails a task, or utters some kind of rant about your website and use your editing software to condense that moment into a short clip, between 5 and 60 seconds.

Once you have done this, put the clip into a 3 page slide deck, with the clip being on the second page.  On the first page use a few small bullet points to set the scene to lead into the clip you have made.  Then do whatever you have to do to get 5 minutes of your manager’s time.  I do not mean set a meeting, but try to catch them when they are in their office and have the deck ready to go on a USB stick.  Tell them you only want 5 minutes and then you will leave them alone, but that what you want to show them has serious ramifications for the business.

On slide 3 break down the true impact this problem is having to the business in real terms.  Use language and terms your manager will understand and emphasise the true potential cost that leaving this problem is having to the business.  Check out my post on how UX can get the budget they want, for more help on this.

Use this wisely

It is important to use this technique wisely and don’t choose clips where you have not seen a pattern of users having problems on the same section of the test.  You have to stay true to your principals and do not want to be selling a problem to your manager which is a complete edge case.  However, if you do see a pattern, use the worst clips to help you get sign off for projects in less than 60 seconds and create high impact presentations that will make your manager sit up and listen to the true value you can give to the business.

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Update: This method can also work well if you do not have budget for a project, but already know there is a major problem on the site.  Go guerilla, test 5 users out of hours without working up a plan, or methodology, just in a quick session and then use the footage to help you get sign off for the project.


Filed under Pitching UX

How UX can get the budget they want


If you want to get bigger budgets for your UX work, you have to look at the problem from the eyes of your manager and even their manager.  Just as you look at interfaces from the point of view of your users, what angle is your boss looking at the problem from?  And what is your hook that will make them sit up and listen to you?  An exit rate of 10% due to poorly formatted error messages and form fields? Or $2 million dollars in lost revenue?  Which is more compelling to your manager?  You have to frame your arguments in terms that will appeal to your boss, or face always feeling like they are never listening and you are not getting the budgets you deserve.

The Problem

Each time I visit a conference I hear the same problems faced by UX professionals.  Not the never ending search for a perfect interface, the perfect user flow, or a usability test that passes without incident.  Most commonly it is “If I could only get the budget, my CEO just doesn’t listen to me in meetings, they seem to switch off and just don’t understand my point of view”.  In the majority of cases this is probably your problem, not theirs.  Successfully pitching your ideas and making your managers, and their managers buy into the UX problems on your site is essential in getting sign off for your projects.

An Example

Imagine you are responsible for the sign up process for companies registering to use your web app.  You have a 5 step form, which has a reasonably high exit rate on each step.  However, you are still getting a high volume of signs ups to your sites and your manager doesn’t want to invest in improving it.  How do you pitch to get funds to improve the web form and decrease exit rates?  Here is how to do it.

The Hook

Often referred to as your elevator or 3 second pitch, but ultimately means being able to explain the value you will bring to the company in 1 sentence.  Your manager will be fielding requests from staff, and from their own managers and have limited time.  Don’t setup a long presentation, if you cannot also deliver an effective hook.  Why should they give you some of their valuable time?  In this example, because you can help save the company $2 million in lost revenue.

Break it down

If you want to affect change you have to first understand the goals of the business and the KPIs of your manager and of the company.  How are they being measured?  What is the company trying to achieve this year?  Once you understand this, you can then frame the value you are delivering (or want to deliver) in these terms.  That way you are immediately appealing to something your manager understands.

It is no good telling them in a meeting that the existing sign up form gives a terrible user experience and error messages are poorly aligned and the copy needs improving.  They won’t care and will already be fiddling with their blackberry.  Frame it in your managers language;

  • 24% drop out rate across the 5 step process
  • On average, that equates to 1000 customers per month, lost
  • Scaled across the 10 international sites you run, that’s 10,000 customer per month, lost
  • Or 120,000 customer per year
  • A customers average lifetime value to the business is $20
  • $20 x 120,000 is $2.4M in lost revenue per year

Go into a meeting and concisely break down the tangible affect the poor UX is having on the business in these terms and your manager will listen.

The Close

Make sure you are prepared with your solution, again using your managers language.  Don’t give them the intimate details of how you will change the error message alignment (Unless of course they actually ask, if so be visual check out my post on pitching UX creatively to affect change) as they likely won’t care and probably don’t understand.  Be positive and again break it down for them;

  • 8 week project timeline from testing to production
  • Cost $200,000
  • Ready to start work in 2 weeks

As a UX professional, you have to understand the direct impact of your work on the business.  To do this, you need to first understand how the business operates in implicit detail to ensure you can effectively frame the value you deliver.  Find an angle where the problems caused by poor UX, IA, VD has a direct impact on revenue, or whatever your boss is KPI’d on and then break it down into language they will understand to force home your message.

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Filed under Pitching UX