User experience consulting is a powerful and useful tool. There isn’t a single professional in the user experience industry, be they designer, troubleshooter or developer who would argue with this point. Without consultation, it would be impossible to tap into the collective knowledge and experience of the user experience industry and utilize time-tested approaches that are known to work. However, you need to be careful with user experience consulting and we will discuss three reasons why. In doing so, we will understand the limitations of consultation for user experience and why there is always going to be a little bit of throwing caution to the wind in this dynamic and developing field.
1 – Demographic Clashes
Demographics are the core issue with any user experience scenario. If you don’t know your demographic, then your service, product or software isn’t going to work very well for the target group of users. The design needs to match the thought processes and priorities of needs of these users rather thoroughly.
Unfortunately, a user experience consultant can’t really verify whether or not the demographic is properly targeted due to their specific location. If a target is being missed, they can’t really suggest how to correct for it, or even point out that it is being missed. Therefore, you need to be careful that the user experience consultant understands the demographic and nature of your user experience going in and choose a consultant that is particularly close in your target area.
2 – Trend Adherence
User experience consultants will make their suggestions and observations based on past trends they have observed. If the user experience your implement in your product defies current trends by its nature, a user experience consultant may return very negative input where it is undue. If you plan to use user experience consulting, be sure to point out if your service and user experience is intended to buck trends before having the consultant observe anything. Otherwise, the results may be contaminated by their unintentional prejudices towards currently followed trends, and this would just be a calamitous mess for everyone involved.
3 – Flexibility
Given the nature of cross-platform software and services in the second decade of the 21st century, flexibility of a user experience consultant is necessary, and in fact is paramount. User experience consultants that target only one platform and the ideals based around it, which may contaminate data. A user experience consultant must understand, if testing only one platform themselves, that the software is in fact intended for multiple platforms and therefore might not be 100% ideal for any specific one, as a compromise for cross-platform design.
It’s preferable to seek consultancy with a professional who understands cross-platform design and also understands the various platforms being targeted.
Bear in mind that a user experience consultant only knows what you tell them about the product or service going in, so making sure that they are informed about any special facets of the service’s nature is absolutely important in order for them to make proper suggestions to improve your overall user experience.