The Persuasion Architect

I recently read an article published in the JUS (Journal of Usability Studies) entitled User Experience Design: The Evolution of a Multi-Disciplinary Approach by Deborah J. Mayhew. In this article Mayhew talks about how no one person can successfully perform all aspects of a development need. She begins by talking about how programmers used to run the show in the 60’s and 70’s and made all the decisions concerning a project for the business. However over time as the industry grew and became more specialized, that role had to become more specialized as well. This led to the creation of job roles like Business Analyst, Project Manager and Account Manager. Mayhew then moves the article into the context of User Experience by highlighting many of the emerging and common specialties of the field, such as Information Architect and Graphic Designer.

Her main point, I believe, is a good one. That a “powerful combination of separate skills…[is] much more effective as a user experience design team than any of us would have been alone.”

Many of us are label ourselves as a “Jack-of-all-Trades”. Which is a great start to bringing usability into a company, but unfortunately we are sometimes forced into this more because of resource and budget constraints than because of our innate senses into all aspects of the field.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have combination teams with specialists of various roles, the most common of which currently seem to be User Experience Analyst, User Researcher, Information Architect, Interaction Designer, and Graphic Designer. Typically all roles work as an independent group separate from the business aspect, partially associated with development, but usually free from the rest of the business. However Mayhew identifies a role that is not as commonly heard of, the Persuasion Architect.

This person is a unique addition to the User Experience team who starts to bridge the gap with one of the business lines: marketing. This role focuses on continuing the positive user experience, while merging in the priority of conversions (The number or percentage of visitors that ultimately contribute directly to the business goals of the site). This is an important addition to the group. Now, not only can we focus on efficient, user-friendly, intuitive, and delightful sites for the user, but we can also ensure that the main goals of the business are being met at the same time.

According to the Dudley measuring tool that Mayhew used, this role focuses on the following concepts and principles:

  • * Provides a clear “value proposition” on the home page (clarifies the offerings of the site).
  • * Focuses on product or service benefits rather than features (customer focused language).
  • * Effectively addresses issues of credibility and trust.
  • * Effectively addresses issues of privacy.
  • * Uses visitor language (avoids corporate or industry jargon).
  • * Provides all information visitors will need, just in time to decide how and when to take each step along the conversion path.
  • * Presents salient and clear “calls to action” (provides a clear path to the conversion point).

For more information on this role, I found another nice article going into some more of the details entitled Persuasion Architecture by Future Now Inc.

Overall I think it is important to remember, that as new roles are created and old roles are given new popularity, being open to a partnership of various specialties will lead to a greater success.