Why UX specialists are making a natural movement away from marketing and into product

Andy Milsom, Founder and Creative Director
24 July 2017

More than 2 years have passed since Three Straight Lines set out as a digital marketing agency, albeit with an interactive focus (and occasionally flirting with the idea of being an ad agency). It’s taken a while but we’ve finally found ourselves as user focussed interactive consultancy. It made sense to be make a natural move away from marketing websites and towards product. I would suggest UX specialists are also finding they’re on this route.

For better or worse the web is now full of patterns. These patterns provide continuity and recollection for users. They also provide a toolkit that takes a lot of the historical problem solving elements away from website design. The challenge of designing the UI of a brochure site has now become less as patterns and methods have adapted to become accessible to creatives who previously may not have considered themselves capable of working within the digital sector. Not to say this is a bad thing, it’s just that the element of problem solving that is the reason hiring a UX professional is often best utilised elsewhere.

So where can a UX be best placed to get the most out of their talents?

The answer lies in product. When planning and producing digital products a UX professional is allowed a greater scope to focus their skillset on complex problem solving. There something beautiful about working on a product idea, creating strategies for how it would work and testing them out. It’s here that UX strategy and interaction design can be utilised to their potential, especially when challenged to produce something that’s not been done before (or producing a product that aims to be the market leader). It’s also more interesting to be living on the edge of digital than surrounded by the safety of existing patterns. At Three Straight Lines this really reflects our purpose of being a user centred consultancy.

We often find ourselves asking the same questions at the start of each project, however the answers are almost always different.

How can this product work?
How do users what interact with the product?
How can we allow users to complete tasks efficiently?
How can really engage with our client’s audience?

As a UX focussed team, and I hope all UX specialists can relate to this, we enjoy what we do each day because of the challenge presented by the projects we work on. Helping our clients produce great products, or take existing ones to the next level, provides us with new problems to solve almost on a daily basis.

It’s not that we’ve left marketing behind completely. We still love to come up with ideas for interactive marketing campaigns, and the occasional brochure site. If the client and project is right for us, and it peaks our creative interest, we’ll happily to take it on. It’s just that as interactive specialists we’ve found ourselves sailing a route where we feel our skills are best used. I guess it’s all about playing to your strengths.

The digital landscape continues to shift

There’s also never been a better time to get into digital product development. Never before have there been so many StartUps – and global brands – with new ideas that they want to trial or take to market. The web has developed to allow easy access to produce software and apps, making anyone with an idea a potential digital entrepreneur. Markets are also ripe for disruption and the digital landscape and there is an almost revolutionary hunger from users. The digital space has opened up every industry to think and behave differently.

Also the agency landscape itself is changing. In many ways what a client is looking for from an agency is now different; in-house teams have grown stronger and we have had to adapt to be able to support our clients in different ways.  By concentrating on great interactive experiences and focussing on front end delivery we’re able to plug ourselves into in-house dev teams, who in our experience are great on tech and product development but have a skill shortage on user and customer experience. We often take an active role in our clients’ business, become less of an external agency and more of a digital transformation partner.

If you would like to talk to us about how our digital product processes can help get your idea off the ground – or take it to the next level – drop an email to hello@threestraightlines.co.uk or give us a call on 03330 065 556. We’re always happy to find the time to sit down and have an informal chat about how we can help launch or grow products.