Hi. This post is an example of the kind of exclusive dailies I write for LibUX Patreon subscribers, in which I respond to timely issues in the news or in the community with respect to their impact on the business of UX. If you’re in a position to support LibUX, access to these dailies is just $1 per month. Your support goes a long, long way. | Subscribe

An hour ago, Ingrid Lunden wrote in TechCrunch that “Salesforce acquires Sequence to build out its UX design services“, saying

 Salesforce has made another acquisition that underscores how the CRM and cloud software giant is looking to sell more services to its customers that complement the software they are already buying. It has acquired Sequence, a user experience design agency based out of San Francisco and New York that works with brands like Best Buy, PeetsApple, Google and many more.

It makes sense that there’s similar opportunities for vendors in the higher-ed and library space.

Although design and the user experience is now part of the vocabulary, inspiring job descriptions, departments, interest groups, and the like, the fact is that this kind of expertise in libraries is relatively shallow. I criticized in “How to talk about user experience” that across the board UX Librarians couldn’t even agree on a practical definition of what the user experience is, and this creates a vacuum that consultants — like me — or vendors can fill.

Businesses provide products — let’s be loose with the term: a neat tool, solid resources, some kind of interface — that customers need to do their job. What’s missing is the insight and expertise to use that product in a way designed to purpose, custom to the customer’s needs, environment, and goals.

Libraries buy things they don’t really know how to use. And even if user experience design is on their radar, or there are even service designers on staff, it’s likely that expertise doesn’t scale easily to the volume of resources libraries maintain. So, that’s the vendor opportunity.

The danger of that opportunity is to the libraries themselves. Ours is an industry pocked by ill-will because the lack of business acumen in most academic or public institutions has allowed for exploitation. Let’s be honest, this isn’t just a few bad eggs, it’s the trend.

There’s little to suggest that design services provided by these same companies won’t in the same way take advantage of the lack of expertise and serve contractual loopholes or antipatterns designed to better profit the vendor at the customer’s expense.

Michael Schofield is a service and user-experience designer specializing in libraries and the higher-ed web. He is a co-founding partner of the Library User Experience Co., a developer at Springshare, librarian, and part of the leadership team for the Practical Service Design community.