Figure 1

UX maturity in January 2019 for 13 biopharmaceutical, agri-food, academia and

industry-associated software vendors using the Norman Nielsen scale

technology at home and that provided in their place of work. Many large life science companies began recruit-

ing ‘usability consultants’ with the aim of improv- ing their applications but, partly due to lack of knowledge of this space and partly to the ROI not being proven, did not invest heavily enough for real benefits to be realised. Instead, these UX resources focused on ‘low hanging fruit’ – quick wins with short-term gains, often focusing on aes- thetic improvements rather than addressing more fundamental design issues that were impacting the user experience of scientists. This proved to be a double-edged sword; on one hand these efforts did provide solid case studies that demonstrated a level of ROI and paved the way for more significant investments going forward, but on the other hand reinforced a perennial misconception of UX, that it is all about the user interface (UI); the layout, colours, fonts and images displayed to users while interacting with an application or device. This misconception became a challenge to these

small UX teams: l As UI design tends to happen later in a project,

UX resources were not engaged until much later, often after the design decisions that most impact the user experience had been made and implemented. l Project teams were reluctant to take a step back

and consider the core goals, needs and expecta- tions of users (and the user research required to understand this), concerned that doing so would add to their timelines or budgets.


l UX was relegated as an aesthetic inconvenience

rather than a core measure of success. l Many opportunities to improve task flow,

reduce errors and eliminate training were missed as the value of UX was not fully realised.

Although the full potential of UX had not been

realised by this time, these early project interac- tions paved the way for further expansion and adoption of UX. UX practitioners now not only needed to practise UX, but they needed to educate the wider organisation on the definition of UX and provide them a common vocabulary.

Evolution of UX since 2017 Despite different adoption rates of UX within dif- ferent companies, it would seem that the original hype associated with UX functions in industry has slightly declined since 2017. This is mainly due to the transition from an early adopter phase to pro- duction use in our industry. Having overcome ini- tial challenges of establishing UX functions, UX is now becoming part of departmental structure and strategic planning of most companies. Nevertheless, the value of UX is not always obvi-

ous. Education of colleagues in UX techniques and best practices through formal training workshops has shown only limited results. On the other hand, we have found that UX has shown the most value within the company when it was applied to con- crete high-impact projects. On these projects, col- leagues could directly experience the value and contribution of UX on their own systems. This

Drug Discovery World Winter 2019/20

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