"What do you do?"
As far as a line of questioning goes, this is pretty standard. But, as soon as I tell people my job title, I can’t tell you how many times it gets met with a follow up.
“So, what does an experience architect do anyway?”
With all the practice, I’ve become really good at explaining it. My approach is to boil it down into three key elements, each very critical to the web development process.
"So, what are those three elements?"
Let's go over them!
Protecting the User Experience
Designing for the end user experience (UX) is vital for any web project or enhancement. But what about the user experience for content managers, site administrators, and other internal audiences? Experience architects act as an advocate for the internal user. In addition to being a key resource for the development team by having a clear understanding of the software and programming language being used, experience architects need to have a solid grasp on user experience principles and best practices, especially as they apply to those managing and sustaining the site.
A poor content management experience can cause some serious frustration for those maintaining and publishing content. Experience architects work to make this process as enjoyable and intuitive as possible.
Defining the "Blueprint"
Once the UX design portion of the project has been completed and approved by the client, experience architects take the visual design and define the "blueprint" for the functionality that needs to be built. Along with defining this key functionality, experience architects assist in quality assurance efforts, making sure that the web project or enhancement is consistent with the intended, or already established, user experience. If done well, this can greatly improve efficiency during the development process, saving the client on both scope and schedule.
Taking Advantage of the Solution
Just as important as completing a project or enhancement is ensuring the client and internal users understand how to make use of the new tools at their disposal. Through thorough documentation and personalized training, experience architects help internal teams take full advantage of the solution, making themselves readily available to answer questions and troubleshoot any issues along the way.
In so many words, experience architects are an invaluable resource for both the client and development team throughout the software design and development process. This dedicated team works to protect internal and end users alike, enable these users to harness the full potential of key functionality, reduce client frustration, and complement efficient project management and successful execution.