We Ask – How Much UX Work Should You Include In a Pitch?

As UX professionals we pride ourselves on creating solutions that take into account user feedback. However, in order to win a project sometimes the rules have to be bent.

I’ve worked on a lot of pitches in my time, some successful and some not. It is always sits a little uneasily with me when I am asked to create example personas, user journeys or wireframes based on little to no user research.

Of course there are some low cost guerrilla usability testing methods you can employ, but with pitch deadlines often tight it can be tough.

You often have to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the project making the client ‘unlearn’ what you have shown them in the pitch

The difficulty comes in fact not when you fail, but when you succeed and win a project. If you create too much before you have conducted your user research you often have to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the project making the client ‘unlearn’ what you have shown them in the pitch.

It creates a catch 22 in which you can’t win UX work without breaking the very principles with which UX is founded.

Should you show the client unfounded designs?

“The client won’t understand unless they see something visual” – at least that’s the argument commonly put forward by New Business Managers. It seems not to matter that the visual ‘something’ they see is baseless. Of course some clients will realise this – however others won’t.

Very often when negotiating price upon a successful bid the UX budget is one of the first things to go. I’ve seen plenty of examples when it’s been cut entirely and development begins using the example pitch material – horrific.

This leaves you with a couple of options:

  • Just show your general UX approach and how you would approach the brief – can be very theoretical and hard to grasp for some clients unfamiliar with UX
  • Show case studies – this may fail if your case studies are not particularly relevant to the RFP, if you haven’t got a sufficient backlog of work yet or if you are under NDA’s
  • Create example UX deliverables – this seems to be the most common way it goes in my experience, but it often goes against the core principles of UX in that you rarely get to talk to actual users

Neither of these three options are ideal.

Your view

To be honest, i’m not sure what the answer is. For that reason i’m opening it up to the floor. What do you do currently in your pitches?

[poll id=”0″]

I don’t think the entire subject can be covered in a single poll so i’d like to also invite discussion in the comments below.

Image courtesy angus mcdiarmid

3 thoughts on “We Ask – How Much UX Work Should You Include In a Pitch?”

  1. Andrew Japp says:

    Who are these New Business Managers you refer to…

    I believe good Biz Dev managers don’t need original creative and UX to sell to a good client, but most clients aren’t good and most Biz Dev people mistakenly believe creative, however unfounded ,will always excite the client or they rely on it rather than a vision. It is what has been passed down from old style advertising pitches and, unfortunately, most still follow this route.

    I like showing the UX process at a top level, illustrating why the approach works with salient case studies, if you don’t have them why are you pitching, and a moodboard or similar (e.g. an update to their existing site) to show our understanding and potential approach to the creative.

    However you might say different having been on the receiving end of my demands…

    Good question though and no doubt the battle will carry on….

  2. Carla Lindarte says:

    I think we should give them an example of the methodology, describe the tools and techniques we will use to deliver their UX strategy, design, principles, etc. and a good set of case studies. But creating wireframes, personas and creatives for a proposal is, from my perspective, against to what we promote as UX professionals. We don’t do any research, we make lots of assumptions that we shouldn’t make and we’re putting ourselves in risk because we might be delivering a vision that the business is not expecting or is not ready to take on.

    1. Chris Mears says:

      If the client is familiar with Personas etc already then I agree you are just shooting yourself in the foot. For one who has no clue what they are then are you better off creating an example not directly associated with the project or just explaining what one is?

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