Traditionally, UX/UI design has been disassociated from business strategies. Business leaders made the decisions while designers simply executed their wishes. But with the evolution and competitiveness of the digital world, this modus operandi is changing. Leaders now understand the importance of user experience and recognize how incorporating good user experience practices from day one is key to achieving an organization’s goals.
UX as a Mindset
Competition between businesses has always been prevalent: winning clients is the main objective. User experience plays an essential role in this and can be a crucial factor when customers choose one product over another. However, a company does not get to determine if the UX they provide resonates; the users have the final say. No matter the opinion of the high execs, designers or developers, the end-user is the ultimate arbiter of the UX quality of a product/service.
Once a company comes to this realization, UX begins to permeate the way they go about their business. Internal processes change, focusing on the perspective and toolset that is needed to provide the ideal user experience. The mentality of all those involved shifts and internal as well as external objectives align. In this manner, UX merges with business strategy.
UX strategy can be found in the middle between business strategy and UX design. It can be described as an action plan that answers the following: is the user experience of a product in alignment with the business goals of the company? By using a series of guidelines, designers can achieve a better understanding of the business objectives of their organization. In other words, a UX strategy makes it a whole lot easier for designers to achieve said objectives, be it by creating a whole new product, adding new features or giving a complete revamp to an existing product or service.
But who comes up with a UX strategy? All pertinent stakeholders should take part in its creation. These guidelines are not specific to any particular feature but are a collective vision of the product and how to create it. Hence, representatives from all departments/disciplines should collaborate in the making of UX strategy, from upper management, sales, product management, UX design, engineering, etc. The objective is to create a shared vision that aligns with the business goals of the organization that, if done right, can prove to be disruptive to an already existing industry or lead to a long-standing product.
It’s an Equal Partnership
It is crucial here that all parties be on equal footing. UX strategy is a collaboration and all those involved need to be included in the process from inception to creation to delivery, as well as receiving feedback from clients after the product launch. Throughout the entire process, all stakeholders need to be on the same page, this unity adds stability and balance to the whole operation. When UX is not taken into consideration from the very outset with all members sharing a common vision, each individual department or discipline adds to the strategy as work on a product progresses. This can lead to all kinds of setbacks, and there’s a high risk the product will become a sort of patchwork quilt that will greatly affect its UX for the worse. When UX strategy is in place from the very start it becomes a compass for all those working on the project to navigate by.
Aligning UX with the business goals of the company and creating a shared vision ensures everyone has ownership of a product’s user experience. This cross-disciplinary team (one that includes C Suite executives) will have a clear understanding of the problem that’s being solved, who the target audience is, and where the company wants to go with a product. Simultaneously, the collaborative environment means everyone is on the same wavelength when it comes to creating the product; they share a vision that unites them: from the challenges they face daily, to their level of motivation/ambition, to what they want to achieve when users interact with the product.
Trial and Error
The way UX and business strategy are merged will not only depend on the company, but also on the type of product that’s being developed. There’s no definite recipe to follow since what works for some teams might not for others. Consequently, it’s a matter of trial and error, and of fine-tuning the internal processes of an organization until the right fit is found. It’s also important to establish a collaborative environment and a nurturing culture where everyone learns from experience, and mistakes are treated as opportunities. It’s about applying the good old, reliable cyclic process to UX strategy creation: prototyping, testing, analyzing results, and refining.
As a result, the entire culture of the company will be permeated by a UX mentality and everyone will be committed to making UX a priority, from C Suite level to project managers, to designers and developers. The whole organization will be acting in tandem to create the right solution for the user.
The Meeting Point
Remember, it’s all about finding a solution that addresses an actual problem for real people and that fits well within a dynamic market. Everyone from high-level executives to designers to engineers may have an idea of what a new product should be, but what really matters is what the user thinks. As we said before, users are both judge and jury, and as such, they’re the ones who will validate your solution.
The sooner a UX outlook is integrated into business strategy, the better. The objective is to create meaningful experiences that result in customer retention and trust, so it’s key to offer users solutions that work for them. UX strategy goes far beyond a user interface: it’s a mindset that should permeate the whole culture of an organization. Ultimately, UX strategy is the junction where a company and users meet.
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