Like any relationship, you must court, nurture and tend to your users to be successful.
UX Designer, UX Researcher, UX Strategist, UX-UI Specialist…
I am going to say it,
UX titles suck.
Why? Because none of them contain the word “business” and at the end of that delightful user journey is a business, YOUR business to be exact. Whether you are B2B or B2C, SAAS or a Start-up, user experience is more than your design, more than your UI, more than making your users happy.
UX is part of your business model and, like company culture, it will exist and grow whether you mind it or not. The question is will it grow better or worse?
For those who don’t mind it, it will be the latter. In those cases, also like bad company culture, you usually find out about it through reviews when you now have to spend extra time, money and resources trying to fix it.
For those that do mind it? They can expect to see customer loyalty, repeat sales, positive feedback and proven ROI on their KPIs. Wait.. did I just start talking in business lingo? Where was I? Oh, right, user experience.
So how do you mind your user experience? Misunderstanding of an ever-evolving field has caused the waters of UX to become quite murky. To begin, let’s break down the field into its parts.
In the article What Does a UX Strategist Do? by Paul Bryan, one of the descriptions of a UX Strategist’s job is stated as:
…to facilitate the alignment of a business’s systems to its business plan and strategy, adding the people perspective to the mix.
Notice how it starts with business alignment and then adds in users? A company must first come to an understanding of its digital strategy and what it offers. You may think that this has already happened but assuming that can end up costing valuable time and resources. Different departments may have different visions and goals. Information from the top may trickle instead of flow down. A dominant CEO may have created a narrow vision for the rest of the company. Whatever the reason is, beginning with a conversation and breakdown of the business gets everyone aligned. Until that alignment happens, trying to introduce users into the mix can be challenging to say the least.
Business discussions and talking about what a business wants or expects a user to do is not a true understanding of what a user wants and will do. For that, you need to do research. Wondering why we just don’t start out with research? To do proper research, a hypothesis is needed that can be tested and validated. The UX Strategy forms the hypothesis. Maybe the company does truly know its users. Maybe it doesn’t. To move on and design an app or a website or whatever would be designing on assumptions. This leads to back and forth meetings, multiple revisions, projects going out of scope and KPIs not getting met assuming they were set right in the first place. DO THE RESEARCH. It’s not a time waster, it’s a lifesaver.
Through strategy, we find our story, the conversation we want to have with our users. Through research, we learn how to tell that story in a way that portrays the users as the hero. With design, we lead the user to the services and products that will make them the hero. With great design, we up the odds that they will tell others about it and come back to do it again. This is where that delight you hear so much about with UX comes in to play.
Good strategy and research ensures that the delight you are creating is generated by making them the hero of your story.
It doesn’t have to come from an animation or the latest trend such as virtual reality or augmented reality or artificial intelligence. It could come from a smooth user journey. It could come from personalization. It could come from using multiple channels to make accessing what they need easier, tools they can use or information they can download that make their job easier. Attractive color palettes that also ensure usability, fonts that are easy to read and layouts that are responsive all participate in creating a great design that supports the story and creates a delightful user experience.
UX KPI Monitoring
It’s not over until it’s over and getting your digital project up and running is only the beginning. As UX Strategy starts a conversation that allows business to think from a user perspective, UX KPIs assist with keeping track of business goals through the actions of the users. Let’s look at an example. You often find B2B companies have a KPI of Lead Generation. They may state something such as:
“We measure the ROI of the website by the number of website sign-ups.”
UX KPI creation takes that same business goal and breaks it down into something that offers a little more insight. Here is a KPI that measures the business KPI by meeting the user need:
Ensure the website is serving the user by measuring customer loyalty through the number of times a user comes back and uses the website after signing up within a three month time period.
What is the difference? The first KPI simply watches form submissions, but users may fill out the form never to return because the website did not do the job the user needed it to do. If users are signing up and returning, then we have an indication that the website is working. If a majority of users are filling out the form but don’t return we know we need to revisit the design and do research to understand where in the user journey we can do a better job. Monitoring the site using a variety of tools such as heatmaps, surveys, and random recordings can provide clues on parts of the website that aren’t working as expected. The combination of UX KPIs and monitoring allow the website to evolve with user needs over time and keep revisions from becoming large and costly.
When UX in all its forms is intertwined with your business strategy, you can expect a relationship with users that grows better with time. Remember that UX is not just about making users happy or using the latest online trend, it’s about careful planning with the intention of meeting the needs of users in order to achieve business goals. In the end, it’s really a delightful way to do business.