…and challenges of implementing User Centred Design (UCD) at large companies in South Africa.


In today’s complex world, building quality products and services no longer deliver customer loyalty.


People want an amazing user experience that must be consistent across all channels and platforms.


This poses a complex and complicated question for large companies:

How do we deliver a comprehensive holistic UCD Strategy when the organisation typically consists of multiple groups and divisions, all of which design multiple products and services for different target markets?


While many large organisations in South Africa are aware of the necessity to adopt a UCD approach to meet their clients’ needs, those who weren’t early adopters are realising they need to catch up with their competition and do so quickly.


Many  challenges exists to execute UCD well, such as : as budget, deadline, technology, change management, and scarcity of UX resources.


We’ve found that a healthy UCD approach within any organisation requires the correct team, mind-set and environment. As the need for scarce UX resources grows in South Africa, large organisations tend to desperately look for external resources and agencies to provide UX expertise.

Delivering great user experiences versus just filling seats?

A typical single UX team within an organisation’s division consists of a few permanently full-time UX consultants and several external UX consultants. On the one hand this seems to fill the seats but does this model really deliver quality work and products that are designed to meet the users’ needs?


Hiring full time experts from multiple firms as UX contractors means that the organisation is bringing together people with various mind sets from different company cultures, with different approaches and understanding of UCD, as well as the necessary experience.


Having all these different minds applied to one project could create an environment where ideas are challenged from multiple perspectives and better product solutions are delivered as a result.


However, without an umbrella UX Enterprise -and -Consumer strategy to provide direction, all these resources and talents are likely to be wasted resulting in an inconsistent user experience across multiple products.


Let’s take a closer look at a basic representation of a strategy-less approach:

A move in the right direction: UX Enterprise -and –Consumer strategy

While this may be a simplification of a complex organisation, it highlights the intricacies involved in the process, where the key missing ingredient is having a UX Enterprise -and –Consumer strategy that’s aligned with the organisation’s other core strategies.


This allows for every team members in the design team to have clear direction, on each project, that aligns with the strategy.


An organisation can choose to appoint an internal UX Strategist or appoint an external company to create an overall strategy. Someone with the right credentials should obviously be considered.


In our experience, lack of strategy to roll out UCD across an organisation often leads to lack of directionexorbitant amounts of money spent on duplication of work and fixing errors or bad design  which impacts the success of a project, and customer experience, and revenue down the line.


Here’s how we approach this :

Our 5 Top tips to get this in place is :

  1. Start with the UX Enterprise and UX consumer strategy – decide on where you want to be.
  2. Translate these strategies into an operational framework and ensure that every person in the organisation is onboard – decide on how you are going to get there.
  3. Implement processes to ensure that the right people are hired for the right positions.
  4. Create a UX methodology for the design process that encompasses research process, problem statement and solution design.
  5. Be realistic about what about what’s achievable within the organisation’s constraints. Be conservative about deliverables to ensure higher quality UX output, leading to better user experiences.


By Jennifer Hull