UX strategy is your way to competitive advantage

Blog | 04 May, 2017

Most organizations today heavily invest in technology, digital tools, and building an online presence to address a variety of business needs. Even if digital products or services are not your primary line of business, your company is most likely no exception. Have you launched a new marketing website, implemented a new customer relationship management system to support your sales team, or built an app to increase online sales recently?

Whether the tools you use, or look to implement, are directly customer-facing or utilized to improve internal business processes and workflows, the changes will inevitably impact some customer touchpoints and hopefully result in a better experience. However, to achieve powerful change within your organization, the digital solutions you employ should be based on a solid strategy shared across business units. 

When deploying websites or apps, businesses have grown to understand the value of user experience (UX) design and ROI of UX activities. For the company, investment in UX may result in lower acquisition costs, customer retention, larger market share, reduction in support costs, and much more.

While we can all agree on how powerful good design can be, many forget that without a strong strategic foundation, it is impossible to generate truly transformative business outcomes.


What is UX strategy and why do you need one?

User experience is an aggregate of all the interactions a person has with your company or service over time.

In today’s digital economy, UX can be the major source of competitive advantage. If done right, it can serve as a powerful differentiator for your business and a great avenue for delighting and adding value for your customers. 

If your business strategy doesn’t support a customer-focused approach and translate it into user-centric design, you are at a high risk that your brand promise and marketing messaging are at odds with the customer experience. Here is where UX should go beyond the design alone and help organizations to think strategically about the user’s behaviors and needs.

This is exactly what user experience strategy does:

  • It links your business strategy, brand values, and your customers’ needs via long-term alignment of all user touchpoints. 
  • It connects organizational KPIs with outcomes that user experience can affect—and UX professionals are uniquely positioned to provide such insights. 
  • It helps organizations to get teams on the same page and break down silos to ensure successful implementation of technologies and digital tools.


What do UX professionals bring to the table?

Going through the comprehensive research and analysis stages, UX experts accumulate a wealth of data-driven, unbiased insights from both users and stakeholders. This helps articulate and break down complex user needs, marry them to business objectives, and formulate problems that truly need to be addressed. 

As designers, they are also well equipped to offer a number of practical solutions, and help teams estimate timelines and costs.


What does a UX strategy look like?

Before you design a digital product or a web property, make sure to take time to develop, formalize, and socialize your UX strategy. Depending on the complexity and the scope of the project, your strategy can take many forms—a one sentence statement, brief internal one-pager, or an extensive client presentation. 

Similar to the holistic strategy development, this deliverable would usually cover challenges, vision for the future, and plan for achieving it as well as describe activity areas, timelines, and success metrics. 

Step-by-step guide to UX strategy development

1. Understand the current state 

Identify and document current user experience, user pain points, limitations, and their impact on the business. Use primary and secondary research to define the problem and get context. Consider what triggered a demand for a better user experience, who initiated the project, and why. 

Systematizing this knowledge will not only help you come up with solutions and recommendations but will also help to establish benchmarks. We have also found this exercise to be helpful to onboard teams during the design stage. 


2. Document the vision for the user experience you are trying to achieve

Start with outlining the target experience at a high level and avoid detailed technicalities so it is accessible and easy to digest by all teams. Clearly define user and business outcomes and the specific results you expect to achieve. How will this benefit your users? Does it align with business objectives? What are the specific benefits of certain user actions to the business? What user behaviors generate win-win outcomes?

Depending on the project scope, you may utilize storyboards, journey or service maps, or user scenarios to present your aspirations in a more visual, easy to comprehend way.


3. Create a roadmap

A UX roadmap is a plan that bridges the gap between your current state and the desired user experience. This stage requires setting priorities and timelines, estimating trade-offs, capabilities of the organization, and cost-and-benefit analysis. 

This stage may require collaboration with other teams to align on priorities and budgets. Stakeholder interviews conducted during the discovery phase are also helpful in determining the priority levels. Note any internal capabilities an organization might need to develop to accommodate for the proposed changes.


4. Define metrics

Based on what prompted the need for a better user experience to begin with, develop the metrics to show progress and compare against the benchmarks. Define appropriate UX metrics (usability, conversion, engagement) and help the rest of the teams connect what it means to the business KPIs. 


5. Get the team on board

Whether working with the client team or internally, it’s crucial to introduce the UX strategy to the broader team to get support and understanding. It helps secure shared vision, promote values of good experience design, address concerns, and have a productive discussion. Schedule a separate UX strategy meeting to present to key teams or kick-off your co-creation design workshop with this discussion. 


6. Review and iterate

As the world of digital is moving fast, ongoing review and iteration of the UX strategy is a must. Even if your organization’s business goals identified during the strategy development are long-term, user behaviors and needs change rapidly. UX strategy optimization requires revisiting it on the regular basis incorporating feedback and learnings.   


Because so many companies are able to deliver outstanding customer experiences, if your organization doesn’t embrace a user-centric mindset, you’ll find yourself at a disadvantage. While UX designers have long been known as customer advocates and execution masters, including UX in strategic conversations adds tremendous value to the client strategy and helps transform how your business operates in the era of digital innovation.

Let us know how UX strategy fits within your business and if we can answer any questions. What are your wins or challenges? Our UX experts are happy to help.

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