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UX: Strategy Matters, Too

Many people mistakenly confuse user interface (UI) with user experience (UX). An attractive and functional UI is crucial, but there’s more to effective UX than design alone. Strategy plays an integral role, too. User experience must be a top consideration when developing any product or software. Instead of hiring UX designers to execute strategic decisions, it’s important to include them in the decision-making process, and I’ll explain why.

Use UX Design to Improves the Customer Journey

The primary function of UX design is to improve customer experience. It’s vital to include UX considerations in any business strategy. A good UX designer thinks about what users will want to experience, how they will want to experience it, and then designs a product accordingly. This effort encompasses far more than just aesthetics and technical functionality; it will ultimately guide customers to form a relationship with a brand.

Many customer-focused businesses have started to appreciate the “customer journey. This is a customer’s series of interactions with a company from the first exposure to the brand all the way to completing a sale or repeat sales. Every step in between is crucial, because consumers are warier and more tech-savvy than previous generations. While a misstep along this path may not completely turn off a potential customer, repeated frustrations will. This is where UX design comes in: It’s easier to connect with customers and forge more memorable and meaningful interactions when you address pain points from their perspectives.

UX Hinges on User Research

Customer profiles, like the concept of the customer journey, also are common strategic elements in modern business. A customer profile is essentially a description of a company’s target customers in terms of age, career, education, habits, earnings, hobbies, and other metrics. Modern businesses use these profiles to understand their customers better, figure out how to reach those customers more effectively, and how to draw in new customers.

Different types of customers are going to want different things in terms of UX. To serve your customers better, you need to know what they want or what troubles them, then let them know how you can help. This means companies need to perform thorough research and data collection to determine where their UX needs the most attention. Small hiccups in a customer’s interactions with a brand can quickly result in lost leads and missed sales, so UX certainly affects the bottom line. When companies take the time to thoroughly investigate the needs and wants of their target customers, they can start to improve the customer experience by building trust and staying relevant to those customers.

Include UX Considerations in Every Business Strategy

Another misconception I see often is that many people think UX only encompasses a customer’s experiences from a website design perspective. This is not the case – UX covers every experience a user has with a company, from marketing exposure to product use to customer service. This means that UX needs to be part of the conversation whenever strategic meetings take place. No matter what subject is under discussion, every customer-focused company needs to ask, “How can we make this work better for our customers?”

Ultimately, I believe some of the best ways to incorporate UX into business strategy is through testing and feedback. Companies need to ask users directly about their experiences, what they liked and what they didn’t, and then identify ways in which they can improve. UX isn’t solely about functionality and customer satisfaction—UX design also should strive to delight users.

Beta testing and A/B testing are fantastic methods for improving UX. A beta test can help you work out the kinks in a new development before a full launch, and customers will feel privileged and valued for being invited into a beta test. A/B testing can help you assess the effects of multiple possible changes —deploy both and see which one your users prefer.

I strongly believe UX strategy and design need to be seated together at the table when it comes to project management and product development. You might already have a sound strategy, but your UX design ultimately is what will make it useful, functional, and delightful for your users.

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Photo Credit: Matt_Connors Flickr via Compfight cc

Daniel Newman

After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change how business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 5x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and President of V3 Broadsuite, a family of marketing and media agencies that help companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world. I also give keynote speeches around the world on the topics such as digital transformation, technology and marketing.