Are you a user interface designer or a user experience designer?

Paul Boag

Design doesn’t happen in a bubble. To create a compelling user experience you must take into account the context of the business.

I thought you guys designed websites. Why are you talking so much about business transformation? That is the clients problem.” This is a common question I hear about myself and Headscape.

People don’t seem to understand why a web designer is writing a book on digital transformation.

I guess I can understand this to some degree. After all, clients hire us to build them a website, not transform their business… Or do they?

Clients want a successful website

Are clients not hiring us to create them a successful website? They may not say it, but that is the implication. Creating a successful website involves a lot more than a nice design and the latest CSS technique. It’s even more than understanding what the user is trying to achieve.

Often a website (or other digital asset) will fail, because the organisation behind it is not capable of supporting it.

To provide a great experience, you must fix the business

That is why Headscape doesn’t just build your website. That is why I write so much about digital transformation. It’s because design exists within a context. To design a great customer experience, sometimes you have to fix the business that is offering that experience.

For example a website will wither and die if there is no strategy for its long term evolution. That is why we find ourselves helping clients to write a digital strategy.

When clients use Twitter as a place to post press releases, we feel compelled to provide social media training.

The biggest example of all is content. Without great content, no amount of user interface design is going to create a great experience. That is why we end up working with clients to design a content strategy.

And so it goes on.

We create pattern libraries for our clients, so they can expand and maintain their sites over the long term. We know if we do not, the site will become less effective over time. We even do post integration reviews to make sure the technology partner has done a good job at implementing the design.

You could argue that our job is to build the user interface and then walk away. But, if you are going to call yourself a user experience designer that is not enough. You must accept that a great experience involves fixing issues not immediately related to design.

“Businessman drawing frame with the big picture in it on blue background” image courtesy of