What is Enterprise UX?

Hosted By Matt Watson

Full Scale

See All Episodes With Matt Watson

Melvin Hogan

Today's Guest: Melvin Hogan

Principal - M.E.H. Consulting

Kansas City, MO

Ep. #1194 - What is Enterprise UX?

In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt Watson and Melvin Hogan, Principal at M.E.H. Consulting, talk about enterprise UX. Hear what Matt and Melvin think about enterprise UX and how important it is to the success of your business. They also discuss the difference between design and art and why and when to hire an enterprise UX consultant.

Covered In This Episode

The user experience has long been accepted as a significant factor affecting customer engagement. Through M.E.H. Consulting, Melvin Hogan helps businesses understand what enterprise UX is.

Listen to Matt and Mel discuss Melvin’s background and the relationship among design, animation, motion graphics, and UX design. They also share insights on how UX design aims to eliminate friction and the role of AI in that respect. Mel explains what enterprise UX is and the importance of role-based functionality.

Get Started with Full Scale

The conversation veers around how it is being an enterprise UX consultant and the challenges of hiring UX designers. Matt and Mel wind down the episode with a walk-through of the debate over UX and design vs. art.

Learn about enterprise UX to help your business. Join the conversation in this episode of Startup Hustle.

Business Innovation


  • Mel’s background (1:41)
  • Design, animation, motion graphics, and UX design (6:52)
  • UX design aims to eliminate friction (10:06)
  • The benefits of AI (12:25)
  • Enterprise software (16:16) Enterprise user experience (21:44)
  • The importance of role-based functionality (25:56)
  • Being an enterprise UX consultant (28:39)
  • Hiring UX designers (31:20)
  • Why hire a UX consultant (36:25)
  • The cost of hiring a UX consultant (37:35)
  • The question you have to answer to be successful in your business (40:07)
  • UX and design vs. art (41:45)
  • Where to find Melvin (42:22)

Key Quotes

We use personas in UX design because we want to narrow it to two or three types of users and then customize that experience towards those users. So whatever context they’re having that experience is the best possible experience they’re having. Now, it uses all the elements of graphic design and some animation elements to achieve that. But it’s more focused on creating an experience rather than communicating an experience.

– Melvin Hogan

User experience is really important to eliminate the, you know, the little extra steps and diversions that people run into that cause friction, right? I mean, that is the big, big thing about user experience design, which is trying to eliminate all that friction.

– Matt Watson

Enterprise user experience is really an internal discipline to an organization where you’re saying, what are the tools that we’ve either built or purchased within our organization? Who are the people that are using them? And, how do we customize the build and add on to those software to make our employees not only more efficient but enjoy their jobs more?

– Melvin Hogan

A UX/UI designer is going to be someone who can think through the user flows who can develop initial personas, and develop those initial screens in such a way and those initial prototypes in such a way that it kind of explains itself to whoever you’re presenting it to. And, it informs your software as you move forward.

– Melvin Hogan

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Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Matt Watson  0:00

And we’re back for another episode of the Startup Hustle. This is your host today, Matt Watson. Today, we’re gonna be talking about user experience and how important it is for software. Our guest today is Mel Hogan. He is a freelance consultant on design, consulting business around doing user experience and other types of design work. We’ll share a little more about what he does today as well. Before we get started, I do wanna remind everybody that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by Full Scale. Hiring software developers is difficult, Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. That’s our company that puts on the show here. Please visit FullScale.io to learn more. Mel, welcome to the show, man.


Melvin Hogan  0:41

Hey, Matt, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.


Matt Watson  0:43

So I think the first disclaimer has to be that you and I have worked together on and off for 22 years or some craziness like that.


Melvin Hogan  0:52

Yes, yes, yes, we have.


Matt Watson  0:54

How many companies? Have we worked out together? Like four?


Melvin Hogan  0:58

1, 2, 3, 4, 4 and a half? Probably five at this point.


Matt Watson  1:04

So are you just waiting? Are you just waiting to be hired again? Or you’re gonna hire me next time? Like what, what’s gonna happen?


Melvin Hogan  1:11

I’m probably looking into more of a revenue share situation for the next partnership.


Matt Watson  1:18

Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. I am excited to talk about UX, user experience, and design. And you know how important that is for software products. I know that’s something that you’re really passionate about before we get started talking about that, though, once you give us a little more about your background, except having to deal with my bullshit for 20 years.


Melvin Hogan  1:41

It’s not been bullshit. I’ve learned a lot working with you. Alright, well, my background is it’s a hodgepodge, really. I how far back do you want me to go with this? Because that can be the entire podcast. I’ll give you the abbreviated the notes.


Matt Watson  1:59

So the 32nd version that starts at preschool?


Melvin Hogan  2:03

Well, I did not attend preschool because I grew up in the inner city. So that wasn’t awkward. But anyway, yeah, I always had an interest in art. From an early age I started drawing when I was probably five years old. Really fell in love with comic books, as are at an early age, as you can tell from my hat and the photo behind me, which you can’t see on the podcast. But it’s there, I assure you, both are SpiderMan references. And from there always wanted to pursue art but circumstances eventually led me into the military, where I went in and became an infantry man. I was in during the first Gulf War. Didn’t have to go to the first Gulf War, at least didn’t fight in it, which I don’t consider a loss. But I did have a job in the military as the brigade illustrator. So I got to pursue my art and got my first introduction into graphic design while I was in the military, working on. Yeah, I’m working on a software program called Harvard Graphics, which is like super old school. And in my unit, we played the first rotoscoped video game on a Mac, which was called Prince of Persia, the original Prince of Persia, which, at the time, it was like, what a pitfall looked really, really cool. So its Prince of Persia the version we were all obsessed with. So after the military, I came out, I did community college for a little bit and thought I wanted to go in journalism. So it took a few journalism classes, which actually taught me a little bit about writing and storytelling, which has actually served me well later on much like and I’m not in any way comparing myself to Steve Jobs here. But much like his calligraphy classes helped him with the creation of the Mac. The storytelling I learned to journalism help has helped me immensely and user experience design. So came close to my associate’s degree putz around for a little bit after that thought I was going to get a quote unquote, real job, worked as a computer operator at a company called Kemper Financial Services here in Kansas City, which that basically that job taught me the basics of object oriented programming. But essentially, my job was to go and move content, computer tapes from one machine to the other when they requested from the mainframe. So this is we’re talking old school, I learned object oriented programming on an AS 400 and IBM AS 400.


Matt Watson  4:29

Yeah, that’s right. You did some computer programming, too.


Melvin Hogan  4:32

Yeah, a little bit. I’ve done a little bit of everything. While I was there, I decided to see if I can get into the Kansas City Art Institute, which is basically an Ivy League art school, and I can show you my tuition tuition bills to prove that to you. But what they’re graduated after four years, took one web design class in 97. So this is the early days of the web, and really just fell in love with it. Really just saw the possibilities in the web. I thought it was cool that you could combine writing, drawing graphic design and animation all in one place. And never really looked back from there, jumped into web design and walk worked in the advertising business for 12 years and web design. Kind of got burned down on advertising design, and ended up doing product design after that. And all of this was user experience design. It just wasn’t called that at the time.


Matt Watson  5:28



Melvin Hogan  5:29

And so went from there. My first true product design job was with with a company called Live On, which didn’t. I love saying that


Matt Watson  5:40

It was one of your first startups you worked out, right?


Melvin Hogan  5:42

First startups. Yeah. And wait was live on before. Now. I think I think my first product design was job was with you at Advent solutions. But that was more so website design, that was a website design, that wasn’t really product design, per se, because I didn’t have a lot to do with our core application. At build solutions. I was more of a website in.


Matt Watson  6:05

So, so let me ask you this. And for Mike to go on. So we talked about design perspective, for a second. For those who are listening, they’re like, Okay, I’m talking about graphic design web design, I would love for you for a minute or two to kind of explain what you think, how would you describe the differences between like graphic design and for say, like, print, you know, for like a business card versus magazine, things like that, versus web. And then you know, you’ve also done a lot of stuff with illustration with animation with video. Like, if somebody’s thinking about like, oh, I want to hire a designer, you know, graphic design person, or UX person, that can mean a lot of different things. Right? So I’d love to hear your take on the difference of those things. And if you’re gonna hire somebody, how those are probably totally different people.


Melvin Hogan  6:52

Yeah, that’s a good question. Okay. So first, we’ll start with my basic definition of design as a whole. And the way that I talk about design is design answers questions, and art asks questions. So and what I mean by that is, you know, design design is an art in my, in my view, because design is about solving problems. And in order to solve a problem, you have to have a clearly defined problem, right? And so from that perspective, if you want to look at graphic design, well, graphic design solves visual problems, you know, so what is the layout of this page? What are the colors of this page? What are the fonts on this page? How do those things? How do you combine those things to deliver a cohesive message visually, right? So that would be graphic design, at its core. Animation, of course, is telling stories through moving images, right? But it’s all about the story in animation. So you got to have some type of story that you’re trying to communicate when you’re animating otherwise, it’s just making things move for not really any reason. Now, the nuance of that is when you get into UI animation, in that scenario, you’re trying to make the user’s experience a little bit more enjoyable, a little bit more fluid, and maybe draw attention away from what they’re doing, as far as the work of it, and kind of soften the experience they’re having through animation. So Google has some great animation guidelines that help with that in their material design. Videography is something I’ve toyed with, I don’t have enough experience or information of go do a deep dive on that. But it’s its own animal. And then there’s motion graphics, which has its own category of animation, and motion graphics, if you think about movie titles, all of that. It’s not unlike what I’ve talked about with other types of animation, and that it is communicating something is telling a story. So the the commonality between all of these things, is you’re trying to communicate an idea. You’re trying to solve a problem. You’re trying to tell a story, where a UX design kind of veers off of that page, extremely, in my view, is you could tell in all of these other mediums, you can tell a story that is universal, right? But with UX design, you have to get down to the brass tacks of the individual users that you’re trying to communicate with. So you could think of UX design, as if Disney were making a movie for Matt Watson. Right? And so Disney went out. And they studied everything about Matt Watson. And they know Matt Watson very, very well. And they’re tailoring that movie to Matt Watson. Well, that’s why we use personas in UX design is because we want to narrow it to two or three types of users, and then customize that experience towards those users. So whatever context they’re having that experience and is the best possible experience that they’re having. Now it uses all the elements of graphic design, and some of the elements of animation to achieve that. But it’s more focused on creating it. Creating an experience rather than communicating an experience, if that makes sense.


Matt Watson  10:06

Well, and I, you know, user experience design is so important. You know, even take somebody like my wife, who is not very high tech at all. She’s very low tech, like, I’ve only seen her use a laptop computer at one time in the last four years. And the littlest things in some kind of mobile app or that kind of stuff completely will trip her up. And that’s a lot of the population. You know, even though a lot of people have iPhones and all this stuff, you know, they use all day long. User experience is really important to eliminate the, you know, the little extra steps and diversions that people run into that causes friction, right? I mean, that is the big, big thing about user experience design is trying to eliminate all that friction.


Melvin Hogan  10:48

Absolutely. And a great example of that is there has been a push with automobile makers to go towards touchscreens and their vehicles. And you’re seeing a bit of backlash against that because the problem with touchscreens is they eliminate the convenience of a knob or a dialer or a switch, because you have to look at them in order to interact with them. So prior to touch screens, if you wanted to turn up your AC or something like that, you just had that memorized by, like in its root, right? Yep. Yep. But But now with touchscreens, sometimes they make the mistake of actually moving controls around. And so I see touchscreens as being they can be a little bit dangerous on the road because they’re distracting.


Matt Watson  11:31

This is my moment to rant about my Chrysler car that you can only change the volume with your right hand, even though their steering wheel controls. They weren’t smart enough to put the volume control in the left hand. So if you have something in your right hand, it is impossible to change the volume with your left hand versus all my other cars, the volume was on the left. So it’s like you can use your left hand to do it on the steering wheel or your right handed it on the dash. It’s the littlest things like that, that people don’t think about. Those are the little things and user experience that makes all the difference. And


Melvin Hogan  12:01

These are the arguments I get into on a daily basis. Yeah, I should say discussions, but sometimes arguments.


Matt Watson  12:08

Yeah. So one thing that I think is is definitely unique. From your experience over your career, right, you started out as you you dated yourself earlier, you know, you’re super old, you you mentioned that earlier. The


Melvin Hogan  12:24

Getting better with time.


Matt Watson  12:25

Yeah, but you have seen so much change across all these years. Right, like, at one point in time, you were an expert at something like Flash doing your app and animation, all these things. And of course, Apple killed that, you know, a few years ago, and and then now we’re have AI and it’s helping do different design work. And so you’ve kind of seen the whole spectrum of this over time. And I’ve, you know, I’ve also seen that, you know, from kind of a different perspective, as far as like building websites, and basic web development and stuff like that, and kind of like with AI. AI is makes it you know, I think the big thing with AI is it gives access to more people to do some, at least some form of the work, there’s not an extra release that they have access to, right and, and that’s the same with web design. Like I can build the website for my company now. And it’s all like point click, almost like doing a PowerPoint or something. And it comes out looking pretty damn good. You know, it’s not at the same level that somebody like you would do. But for the novice like you can pretty do a pretty damn good job. I mean, you can you go. That’s the great thing about technology over all these years and and AI as well, as is just giving more access to more people, I think, to do the work. But then at some point in time, we fumble around with it, we think we got it figured out, but we don’t know what we’re doing. And then we come running back to somebody like you to actually do it the right way.


Melvin Hogan  13:51

To some degree, yeah, I’m really excited about AI, honestly, you’ll you’ll meet a lot of creatives who are nervous about it. And I’m one of I guess I’m a rare one in that because it doesn’t scare me at all. The best quote I read about AI as it relates to the creative field is AI. So I’m gonna steal your job, someone using AI is going to do your job. Yes. And so I wholeheartedly believe that like AI, I’ll give you a perfect example. I used to have to write these, this business justification for changes that I made to this component library for one of my clients. And it was basically just to let the product owners know why we made these changes so they can go and read it. And all of the answers and the reasoning for all of this. It’s all out there. Someone’s already answered all those questions, right? So I could sit there and wrack my brain or I could go into ChatGPT. It’s a right business justification for this change to this type of component, and then just tweak two or three words or lines on it. And I’ve now taken a job that was 45 minutes and reduced it to five, right? So, another great example is I was doing research on a component that we were looking at building. And I knew that across the web, this particular component had, you know, I knew it had at least three names that it went by. But I went into Chad GPT and I said, what are all the names for this type of component? It gave me a list of, like, 15 names. And then I took those 50 names, and I did research on those 50 names. And I found exponentially more approaches to building this type of component than if I had just gone with the one name I was familiar with, right? So it is sped up and improve the quality of my work exponentially. So that’s the reason I’m excited about it. I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna climb in a cave and go, Oh, no. AI is gonna take my job and take over the world and kill me on a whim. You know, I’m excited about it.


Matt Watson  15:47

Well, in from your examples there, it didn’t replace your work. It made you more productive, right?




It was more of a productivity tool. And I


Melvin Hogan  15:56

and how easy would it be for me to hire a virtual assistant and say, go when you need to complete these tasks, hop into ChatGPT? And then send me the results of it. And now I’m not even doing the ChatGPT work, right?


Matt Watson  16:08

Yeah. So So in your, tell so more about your practice that you have as a consultant, and kind of what you focus on today?


Melvin Hogan  16:16

Yeah, my, my big interest is at least currently, I’m kind of going through a personal transformation in the way that I look at my business. But where where I’ve kind of hung my hat up to this point is in enterprise software. And the way that I define enterprise software is any type of software that an organization builds, internally, as far as productivity tools and things of that nature for the for their teams internally to use, or any type of software that they go out and purchase for their teams to use internally. The reason I’m interested in this is because I think the users of that software are oftentimes neglected because most enterprise software solutions are purchased by people who are never actually going to be the day to day users, right. So if you look at how many sales how many horrible, really sell Salesforce implementations there are out there, where someone goes out and they go, our sales team needs to use Salesforce, and they get sold, because Salesforce has a phenomenal sales team, they get sold all of these bells and whistles from Salesforce. And then they have to hire a Salesforce administrator to come in, who is really just nine times out of 10 get to regurgitate what they’ve done for another company. I I have yet to see a Salesforce administrator come in and do user interviews, and talk to the people who are actually the sales team that’s actually going to use the software and ask them what they want the software to do. So I feel like there’s an opportunity there to go in from a consulting standpoint and say, Here, let me be your UX consultant for implementing Salesforce, monday.com, JIRA, etc, etc, etc. Let me talk to your users find out what they want, save you a load of time and effort on the implementation and on what aspects of the software that you actually purchase, and possibly save your the money that you would pay, you know, Atlassian for all the bells and whistles that you don’t need for JIRA, let’s decide what you do need pare down that package from an enterprise software package scale. And then you’ll have money left over to pay for my surfaces, right. So that’s kind of one area focusing on I’ve already done one project with a large, concrete precast company where they had an internal tool that they built for dispatching their trucks and managing shipments and all of their dysphagia, dispatchers. They were not fans of this. I won’t say they hated it, but they were not fans of it. And they did not feel like anyone asked them how it should work when they initially built it, right. So they brought me in, I went to four or five of their offices between California and Nevada. I spent the entire day with a dispatcher at each of those offices, just shadowing them to understand how we can make the software work in a work better for them in a real world scenarios. I took that information and that research. I went back and I made recommendations did wireframes did user flows, didn’t stop talking to the dispatchers at that point as we did the wire flows and or user flows in the wireframes sent those out to the dispatchers got their input on Is this how you envisioned it working, came to a consensus on that. And then we redesigned and relaunched the entire application and and now they love it. And it’s increased their project productivity by at least 40%. Right. So it was a big deal. And that was kind of where I cut my teeth on this idea that people need help with their internal software because oftentimes, even if they have a UX team, that UX team is focused on building and improving customer facing products, not in Tray products. That’s


Matt Watson  19:51

Part of your struggle is you can only control the visual parts of it. You can do the mock ups of it and stuff but then you still got to use they still have to go back to their software development team actually implement all the changes, right? Which is, which is probably always your frustration because you’re, like, I build all this beautiful stuff. And now they actually have gotta go do it. And there’s probably always that’s part of the struggle, right?


Melvin Hogan  20:13

Well, it’s not a struggle because I work well with software developers, as you know. But I usually I involve the software team early on, and we talk about what technology is going to be used to build it. And I speak software well enough to understand when someone communicates to me what a limitation on building software is. Where I can generally come to a middle ground with any software team that I work on, where we may not get exactly what we envisioned. But we’ll come pretty darn close. And honestly, that’s what that’s what a phase one or a beta version of software is, is you put, you put the MVP, right? You put the best product out that you can initially, and then you decide what your high priority items are. You build those first, and then the advanced features, you work in overtime.


Matt Watson  21:05

Well, I think part of my point is the development team still has to dedicate resources to actually make this right. And that’s absolutely, that’s part of the struggle. And if you need help finding software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and see what developers are available to join your team today. Please visit FullScale.io to learn more. So Mel, I want to ask you about enterprise user experience. And what does that mean to you? What is it? If we say what is user or enterprise user experience? What does that mean?


Melvin Hogan  21:44

Yeah, so this is a concept that I’ve been toying with for the better part, probably three years now. And I’ve been trying to define it in a way that makes sense outside of my head, if you will, an elevator pitch, if you will, and I haven’t quite gotten there yet. But the nuts and bolts of it is it goes back to what I said earlier, which is enterprise software is often purchased by people who will never use it. So they the the individuals within the organization, be it a CTO, be it whoever they got in charge of purchasing God help them if it is a person who’s never working with software, but just decide, but has somehow has the authority. I’ve seen this happen where a CEO has purchased software because he got sold something by a slick salesperson and foisted it upon their team. And so for me, enterprise user experience is really an internal discipline to an organization where you’re saying, what are the tools that we’ve either built or purchased within our organization? And who are the people that are using them? And how do we customize build, It’s another word, add on to those that software to make our employees not only more efficient, but enjoy their jobs more, right and give them a say, into the tools that they are using everyday because I know from experience, like I love journals, and I love writing in journals, right? And so I have a lot of very cool fun journals, and a lot of very cool fun writing utensils. And so as a result, I use them more often. So if you feel like the tools you’re using are enjoyable to use, you’re going to use them more often. If you feel like something is absolute drudgery to use, then, you know, it’s think about most time entry software’s a great, great example of this. Most time entry software is a horrible user experience. Because you have to go in every day, you have to enter 15 and increments of time, you have to document that time manually, say what you did, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. If you if you could go in and improve that for users a what company charges? I don’t know, I mean, maybe Law Offices build their clients for time, time spent entering time? I would hope not. But maybe they do. So there’s a lot of opportunity to cut costs and increased productivity by focusing on what I’m calling for now Enterprise user experience.


Matt Watson  24:19

Well, so I, I got the the answer for us. I asked ChatGPT. What a chat, what is enterprise user experience?


Melvin Hogan  24:27

as long winded answer.


Matt Watson  24:29

So I usually when you think of user experience, you think of consumer facing apps like you think of something like Twitter or Facebook or some game or whatever. That’s designed to be really easy to use and really simple. Not right. And to your point, enterprise software usually isn’t it’s usually a trapper keeper have a whole bunch of shit that most people don’t use. Right. And, you know, so for my first company, we worked out together VinSolutions. We built CRM software for car dealers, and is probably a good example of this, right? Like over time, it’s got a million functions, a million reports, a million settings, it’s got all these different things. And most large companies end up with some kind of software like this. And then what you also end up with is a bunch of people who’ve worked there for a long time, that will give you an edge case reason for why every single thing can’t be changed. We can’t do this because of this one client, we can do this, and we can do this, we can do that. Right? And or we need this one little setting because of this and whatever. And so that’s the hard part, I think, for somebody like you is trying to break through that and figure out, okay, how do we make this as easy to use as, like, our grandma is on Twitter. But, you know, it’s, I guess, Grandma is working in the call center or whatever it is using the software instead, and making it easy to use, right? It’s like focusing on user experience on these enterprise software that is not consumer facing. I guess that’s how I would describe it.


Melvin Hogan  25:56

Yeah, and one of the ways to do that, honestly, is one of the most difficult things to implement, at least in my experience in any software. But one of the best things you can do to improve the user experience is, you know, role based functionality, right? So right, this role can use the these features, this role can use these features, and you only open up those features to those particular roles. Now, the mistake a lot of organization makes, or a lot of organizations make is, a lot of times they leave, a lot of times they leave that decision in the hands of the IT department. And if you’ve ever dealt with an IT department, you know, they can be curmudgeonly and slow and just grumpy about allowing you to do anything because they’re paranoid because it’s on them if anything goes wrong with any of the software at a higher level. So a perfect example of that is what, like, with one of my clients, they’ve got their JIRA implementation. So locked down, that you can’t add. You can’t create a template, for example, for a ticket, right? And it takes months for their IT department to implement that because it’s such a, quote unquote, specialized thing that honestly wouldn’t have to be specialized. If you had somebody motivated like me, who was wanting, willing to go in and learn how to do it and just implement it, right? But so I think from that perspective, just just consulting with and creating roles for user user roles within enterprise software within an organization, is a huge way to increase productivity. And the thing is, is you know, there’s a lot of companies don’t want to spend the time or money on research. But it’s short sighted, right, because you’re going to end up with the results of that research one way or the other, you’re going to end up with it via turnover, you’re going to end up with it via inefficiencies within your organization. And or you’re going to end up with it via you know, subject internal subject matter experts, who are keeping things to themselves rather than sharing them because in their mind, that’s job security, knowing JIRA better than anyone else, or having access to JIRA better, or more so than anyone else. So there’s a lot of opportunities for organizations to save a lot of money and time and streamline their operation. By streamlining how they use enterprise software. Rather than, you know, the analogy I use is rather than squashing a fly with a Buick, right? I mean, a lot of enterprise software can be overkill unless it’s implemented correctly to your earlier point.


Matt Watson  28:38

Well, part of your challenge too, is working with some of these larger companies. And having having them actually use standards across all of their software. Right? Yeah, you know, they have this big, complicated software that does all these things, trying to create some user experience standard style standards across all of the software is always really difficult to do. Because even as a developer, like okay, yeah, we can change this screen, but there’s like 100 more of them. And it’s like a nightmare to change all 100 of them. And that that’s also a similar sort of problem for enterprise user design stuff, right?


Melvin Hogan  29:15

Oh, yeah. It definitely is, like one organization I work with is they still have things, they still have products that are built in ColdFusion.


Matt Watson  29:22

Oh, geez.


Melvin Hogan  29:23

Yeah. And so they’re going through an overall like, they’re kind of in the middle of a two-stage process, upgrading to Angular and then modernizing their software. And they have very defined windows in which they can update products, where they’re not being used heavily. And so it’s a years long product process to update these various pieces of software that they have, and to get buy in from people who’ve been there for years saying, Well, I know this is the way you’ve always always done this, but this isn’t necessary really the best user experience, because no one’s ever considered the user experience. And so you have to balance what their users are familiar with, with what a good user experience is. And there’s an additional challenge there because developers tend to want to use the newest and sexiest things, whether they’re the best user experience or not. And so I have to balance, I have to navigate the engineering team. I have to navigate the product owner team. I have to navigate the actual users, I have to navigate the leadership within the organization. And I have to bring all of those people together in some semblance of an agreement of how we’re going to move forward on any initiatives we’re going to take. So it’s a really interesting problem. So my time is usually spent 70% of it is spent on the consulting side and talking to people and bringing people together and building bridges within the organization. And about 30% of it is spent actually designing anything.


Matt Watson  31:02

Well, it’s it’s hard in a lot of organizations just to get people to sit down and make decisions, right? Like, yeah, and to some degree that ends up being your job of like, Okay, I gotta get everybody in a room. And we’re not leaving until we make a decision.


Melvin Hogan  31:15

Absolutely. The good thing about that, for me is I’m not shy. So,


Matt Watson  31:20

Yeah. So if if somebody’s listening right now, and they have a startup, a small software, company, whatever. And they’ve thought about working with a UX designer, what kind of tips do you have for somebody that’s thinking about, maybe I should hire someone? When should they consider hiring someone? Where would they find one? Like, what kind of advice do you have?


Melvin Hogan  31:41

Yeah, I mean, it varies based on the organization, right? So it also varies at what stage your product is in. So if I were a young startup, and I was kind of in the proof of concept phase, where I was trying to go out and get investment, and I knew I had a really solid idea. And I had an MVPsoftware wise, right? And it could be the ugliest, quote, unquote, software, or it could be something that’s cobbled together in Angular, or, you know, Visual Studio or something like that, as long as the core functionality is there, right? Because you could show the functionality and then sell the dream, right? So it’s at that stage that I would engage with the user experience designer, and say, map out some basic user flows to me, or for me, give me some screens. Some examples, screens that represent those flows, maybe make me a rough prototype because I’m a firm believer that most MVPs should be a prototype that’s built in like figma, or something like that. Because it’s a lot cheaper to engage a UX designer than it is to engage a development team. Now to some of your earlier blog posts. In regards to oh, gosh, I lost my train of thought, give me a second. chance to go ahead.


Matt Watson  33:01

I mean, one thing I talked about a lot is it’s it’s pretty easy to find software developers. It’s really hard to find people that understand product, user experience, exact even software architecture, all those things, right? Like, it’s pretty easy to find a software developer and say, go build this thing. It’s all the rest of it that I find is the hard part.


Melvin Hogan  33:20

And where would one find those software developers, Matt?


Matt Watson  33:23

Full Scale is a good place? We’ve got a few. We’ve got a few.


Melvin Hogan  33:26

I couldn’t resist throwing you a plug there. But anyway, so where would they at what point it varies from organization organization. But the nice thing about having something that, you know, I use the phrase selling the dream, your pitch deck should show at least some initial concepts of what the sexy version of your software looks like. And that’s the mistake a lot of people make is they’ll just hire a graphic designer or web designer to do that piece of it. And so it’s not really going to be something that you that you can use to move your software forward in the future. If you hire a UX designer, the difference is a UX/UI designer is going to be someone who can think through the user flows who can develop initial personas, and, and develop those initial screens in such a way and those initial prototypes in such a way that it kind of explains itself, to whoever you’re presenting it to. And it informs your software as your move as you move forward. So one of the things one of my pet peeves is doing work that is going to be thrown away. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. So if you’re not thinking thinking like a chess player, you know, 10, 15 steps down the or moves down the line, if not more, and looking at that user flow and that persona and going okay, how is this going to how can I use this to inform my business as I go forward? Because one of the things I’ve seen the challenge for young startups is they pivot so much because they don’t spend enough time in the initial thought phase now pivoting obviously is going to happen with any startup. I mean, it has to be, right? Because as you’re finding product market fit pivots are a necessity. But if you’ve at least thought through who your customer is, and what your basic user flows are going to be at least that information in that learning is something that you can build upon. You can’t build upon pretty screens that some designer just kind of cranked out because they were good looking, right?


Matt Watson  35:29

You know, what I, what I heard out of all of that is, you were gonna make my dreams come true and make me sexy. That’s what I that’s,


Melvin Hogan  35:38

I’ll need your help. Okay, but you’ll have to take your time. You have to actually take and implement my device for your My advice for your sculpture I for you to be sexy. Well, actually, the first one’s easier, the dreams coming true is easier.


Matt Watson  35:54

So let me let me ask you this. So if I’m a startup, and I’m thinking about working with somebody to do user experience, they very rarely ever need to hire somebody full time to do this, right? Like, it makes way more sense to hire a consultant like you, somebody like you that can spend maybe a couple of weeks a month, a few weeks, whatever, figure out. Okay, these are the core things you need help with, these are the things you need to improve. And then a lot of times in, you’re like, Okay, now the development team is going to spend a few more weeks like going and implementing it, right?


Melvin Hogan  36:24



Matt Watson  36:25

And it likely makes no sense for them to do a bunch more UX design work when they haven’t even implemented the first round of it, so


Melvin Hogan  36:32

Absolutely. 100%. And, you know, this, this will sound like a shameless plug for my services. But the truth of the matter is, a lot of times I’ve seen young startups about and hire a wet behind the ears designer, right? Even Facebook did this, Facebook did this with their first design person, and they hired them right out of school. Now, they’re fortunate that because they found a diamond in the rough, and she ended up leading all of their design efforts until she left two years ago, right? And so they, they were super lucky. But they also hired in a talent rich area, which was SanFran, right? So they were able to get somebody at that level fresh out of school. The benefit of hiring a consultant right out of the gate is you have a defined cost, right? I’m going to spend X amount on this phase of my UX design, and then I’m not spending anything else on it, right? Because otherwise, what I’ve seen happen is the initial round of UX design will get done, and then your full-time UX designer is twiddling their thumbs while it’s being implemented. And you’re still paying.


Matt Watson  37:35

Alright, what so what do you what do you think somebody would have to budget to do this? Is this something where they’d spend five grand a quarter? 10 grand a quarter? Like, what what kind of budget do you think, you know, to do this kind of stuff?


Melvin Hogan  37:48

Yeah, it comes back to the complexity of the offering. Right. So and who the customer is, right? It’s a different animal to sell to consumers than it is to sell to software to, you know, so the user determines a lot of it as far as budget goes, because there’s other considerations, and there’s expertise. You know, one of the things I really enjoy about user experience design is I get to work across a lot of different industries. But because of that, there’s a discovery phase that is built into the cost of what I do, right? Because I don’t want to come back with a bunch of half cocked generic recommendations for my clients. I want to know that I know their customer at least as well as they do, right? So from that standpoint, initial cost, I would say, if you wanted to get someone to do user flows, wireframes, a prototype and personas and do the necessary upfront user research. A six month engagement at about five grand a month would be reasonable.


Matt Watson  38:45

Okay. Yeah. Well, and I think for a lot of early-stage companies that that should be something that they can, you know, potentially afford, right? It’s not, not out of this world, you know.


Melvin Hogan  38:57

We’re talking 30 grand no benefits, you’re not paying their, their employment taxes. You’re not you don’t have all that employee cost.


Matt Watson  39:05

Right. And it can be the difference for them and their software from sorta looking good to be the dream and sexy.


Melvin Hogan  39:13

Yeah, exactly. And beyond that, it actually works.


Matt Watson  39:16

Yes. Well, I do remind everybody if you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. We have the platform and the team to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions on our platform matchup with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers. At Full Scale, we specialize in building a long-term team that works only for you. That’s the big key and difference. Please learn more when you visit FullScale.io. Well, Mel, I really appreciate having you on the show today. And after 20-something years, we finally got to a podcast together. So I’m glad we got a super fun. Super. So, as we round out the show today. I’m curious if you have any other or final tips about, you know, even entrepreneurship or UX design, any of that kind of stuff?


Melvin Hogan  40:07

Absolutely. I want to share something. I actually have to pull up my notion real quick. So I can share it accurately. I’m not going to share my screen or anything like that. But there is a question that I’ve been asking myself recently in regard to my business that is driving all of my thinking around my business. And I actually got this from another UX consultant. And I thought it was the best question anybody had ever presented to me to ask about my business. So the question goes like this: when you’re when you’re thinking about your marketing materials, your offers, your efforts, or any of that? The one question you should be thinking about your customers asking is this. Why should I pick you over all the other options I have in the marketplace? Including doing nothing? Yes. Right. Yeah. And if you can answer that question, then you’re going to be successful, right?


Matt Watson  41:10

Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s something I would tell startups all the time, you know. It’s like, why, why are they gonna pick you? Who cares? And you know, why are you different? Like, there’s there’s got to be a really compelling reason.


Melvin Hogan  41:21

Well, yeah, it’s like, have you read Peter Teal’s book Zero to One?


Matt Watson  41:26

Read books?


Melvin Hogan  41:27

Okay. Well, I’ll send you some clips from it. But basically, he says, there are two types of businesses. There are zero businesses, and they’re one business. And I’ll send you a summary. But to anyone listening to the podcast, definitely check out that book. Because there’s, there’s a lot of knowledge there.


Matt Watson  41:46

One of the other things you mentioned earlier that stuck with me from our show today was the difference between UX and design versus art. And that art should make you actually ask questions where user experience and design should always answer the questions. And I thought that was interesting. I never never thought of that before. So that was one of my takeaways from today’s show, too. So.


Melvin Hogan  42:08

Yeah, I mentor a lot of young designers. And that’s one of the things I tell them all the time. Like, if you present something to me, and it does not answer all the questions, you haven’t thought hard enough about the design while you’re doing it.


Matt Watson  42:21

Yep. Well, Mel, thank you so much for being on the show. Again, this was Melvin Hogan. You can check out his website at MelvinHogan.com. You can find him on LinkedIn and everywhere else. And he’s available to do user experience consulting, I’m sure, Mel. Mel, thank you so much for being on the show today.


Melvin Hogan  42:40

Yeah, you can also find me on the first page of Google because I’m that guy.


Matt Watson  42:44

All right. All right. Thank you, Mel.


Melvin Hogan  42:47

Thanks, will talk to you soon.