When you’ve got full-fledged product teams filled with smart designers and developers, outsourcing UX work might seem unnecessary or even wasteful. When you actually look at the benefits, though, it makes sense to consider an agency when your team’s strapped for time, too close to the product, or struggling with solutions.
Agency teams bring a fresh perspective to the table. Since we’re not as close to your industry, customers, or organization, we probably have fewer preconceptions about how things should work. Companies with a “this is the way we’ve always done it” mindset can benefit from bringing in an outside perspective on technologies, processes, and product features. Think we don’t know your industry well enough? See the next point...
Agency teams offer a wealth of expertise gained through a variety of consulting projects. While client teams have deep domain knowledge and familiarity with current systems and tools, agencies provide an added boost with the cross-industry knowledge we have in the area of processes, UX design patterns, and technologies. Because agencies work on a variety of digital projects with different goals, budgets, and project timelines, we have experimented with lots of different workflows, research methodologies, and tools. When you hire a digital agency to help you solve a problem, you’re benefiting from all the knowledge the agency has gained solving user experience and business problems of projects past.
Agency teams can take on the kind of discovery you might not be able to do. I think this is probably the biggest benefit of working with an outside agency. While in-house software teams can use guerrilla research methods and quick prototyping tools, they often don’t have the time to conduct holistic user research and then translate that research into actionable findings that significantly impact product strategy and design. I’ve been on some great product development teams in the past, and even with our best user-centered design efforts, one of our biggest pain points was still truly understanding the product’s users. When it comes to software development (especially enterprise software), there’s a whole ecosystem teams have to consider.
- Your product might have a host of different user types (e.g., different flavors of end-users, one or more system administrators, I-only-need-dashboards C-levels).
- Your product might have to work for users across various industries (to customize or not to customize, that is the question).
- How potential customers even research your type of product and ultimately make a buying decision can impact how you market your product.
All of these things help inform your product’s strategy, but unfortunately sometimes teams either don’t know how (or when) to find the answers. There’s never a shortage of customer discovery to be done or features to be built. In the world of product development, most things can be done...they just have to be prioritized to fit into project timelines.
It can be especially challenging for agile teams to carry out in-depth customer research. With development work happening in parallel with research and design, agile UX teams often find themselves researching and designing just-in-time (e.g., for the next sprint). Even with the option to do design sprints, team are oftentimes so focused on the current features in a particular epic that they don’t stop to get a grip on the bigger picture. This can result in teams building the wrong thing (or the right thing at the wrong time).
Partnering with an outside agency can help your team fill in the gaps, increasing understanding within your product team and providing critical insight that can help inform your product’s roadmap. Think your team might be able to benefit from partnering with Launch? Let's grab coffee and talk about it.