Likely Bedfellows: UX and Change Management

We all know what a great user experience is. So what is the root of that feeling? If you asked 10 different people what constitutes a great experience, you might hear things such as:

  • They cared about what I wanted.
  • They took time to understand my needs.
  • They wanted to do anything to get my business.
  • They were attentive.
  • They listened.
  • They seemed genuinely glad to find a solution that worked for me.

What do these types of statements have in common?


Empathy is the driving principle behind the development of great user experiences, and it should be a shared principle for our change management efforts. When we want to empathize with the people going through a change in our organization, we must invest heavily in understanding their needs, behaviors and motivations. We try to understand not only the implications of the change, but also where these events fit within the context of people’s personal or professional lives. We should gather data based using qualitative methods to really understand what would drive an optimal experience. We should keep asking as many questions as we need to until we finally understand.

Along with empathy, there are several other principles that support the creation of great user experiences:

  • We understand the underlying issues before attempting to solve them – We articulate the core of the issue before spending an ounce of time on developing the approach. We don’t waste our time solving the wrong problems.
  • We accept that we are not like the people undergoing the change – Our thought processes and understanding of the world around us are deeply affected by our genetics, upbringing, education, geographical culture, and past experiences. We don’t assume we innately understand the needs of the people impacted by the change.
  • We limit choices – Framing options in a way that restricts people’s choices can help them see those choices more clearly instead of overwhelming them. (If you’re not sure about this principle, look at how many buttons are on the front of an iPhone.)
  • We plan for the user journey – The moment a person is aware of a change, we are designing their user experience. Was it a text message? An email? A call centre agent? If all those touchpoints are not carefully orchestrated, we lose control of the experience we are attempting to build and of the change in behaviour that is our ultimate objective.
  • We can measure our efforts – We can ask people before, during and after the change whether they trusted the information, if they felt satisfied with the process, and how they would have reported their experience to others. This data along with the actual evidence of whether behaviour changed provides a more comprehensive snapshot of our project’s performance.
  • We make things simple and intuitive – We endeavour to design our approach so it’s easy to use, easy to learn, easy to find, and easy to adapt.

Creating well-researched user personas is one of the best ways to ensure these user principles are part of our change management approach. These narratives codify the prevailing needs, behaviours, and motivations that should inform our messaging, milestones and stakeholder strategies. They should illustrate the user journey through the entire lifecycle of the change process, and include those environmental factors and events outside our change management project but very much part of our user’s daily life.

Learn more about the effective change management from Systemscope’s Kathy Roy (video).


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