In the past decade, we’ve seen the creation of many new verbs—tweet, uber, and “swipe left”—added to the global lexicon. The reason: companies like Twitter, Uber, and Tinder have created a UX powerful enough to disrupt our standard way of living. How can all companies experience that kind of success? Hint: it isn’t just about good design. It’s about creating a comprehensive UX business strategy that can keep your company moving forward past the initial app download.
In fact, contrary to the seeming “overnight success” of digital monsters like Facebook and Uber, most companies don’t disrupt the marketplace overnight. Even more, they don’t remain digital monsters without constantly revising and refining their user experience (UX) to ensure that their products are truly meeting user needs. UX is becoming one of the greatest differentiators in the digital age. Any new business operating in the digital landscape today will need to keep the following in mind if they want to get—and stay—on top.
Understand what Strategy Entails
Does your company have a UX strategy? What does that even mean? In the past, it meant finding a great designer and giving that person carte blanche to create an awesome and inspired product once your team had created a brilliant concept. But in the digital workplace, that’s no longer sufficient. Today, UX strategy means both designing a product with a differentiating experience, and knowing how your company will continue to manage, maintain, and grow it amid changing market forces. That means involving a designer at the front-end of the concept process … and continuing to involve all sectors of the company—from sales, to customer service, to design—even after the product is launched.
Recognize What True Differentiation Means
Says one writer, “a UX differentiation is the digital-product game changer” in today’s market. It can make the difference between Friendster and Facebook … Ask Jeeves and Google … Craigslist and Airbnb. But to know how to differentiate yourself in the market, you need to be intimately knowledgeable of the market itself. You need to know your customers—what they want, where their pain points lie, and what new technologies you can harness to solve those problems for them in novel ways. Creating a pretty app will never differentiate your company. Creating a pretty app that solves a problem in a new way will.
Start with the User
Imagine if someone promised to make your favorite meal for dinner—but they never asked you what your favorite foods are. This is how many companies approach UX strategy. Nearly 80 percent of users never use an app again after the first three days of downloading. Why? Because the company thought they had an awesome product that everyone would naturally love—but they never bothered to involve the customer in the decision. A strong UX strategy will always start with the user. It will involve doing research, interviews, beta testing, and competitor-scouting to understand how other products are being used—and how yours can be used better.
Link UX to Business Strategy
How does your UX strategy align with your business strategy? If you don’t know, you need to find out. It’s one thing to have a cool app that does great things. It’s another to create an app that moves customers forward on a clear and purposeful journey that supports your long-term business goals. Never design a UX without finding out how it will help your company serve and grow.
Ensure Your Design is Seamless
Today’s phone apps are often easier to use than their web-based brothers. Sometimes it can cause confusion and frustration on the part of users who find it difficult to find the information they need or use while working via another channel. No matter what kind of company you have, chances are good your customers will be experiencing it across many channels—from the Web to mobile to tablet. Thus, when you create your UX, don’t create it in a bubble. Ensure all experiences across all channels feel the same to the user. And if you design a killer mobile app, be sure to make your web-based version just as killer—with similar functionality and feel.
Test, Improve, and Keep Improving
The key to creating a successful UX is knowing UX is ever-evolving. Every day, your team needs to be asking—and answering—tough questions like: How do users use your product? What’s missing? What’s changed since launching it? What are other people in the industry doing? In today’s digital landscape, UX is only as good as its relevance. That means staying on top of the competition and ahead of the trend—using data and machine learning to predict customer demands and to address those issues proactively.
UX strategy isn’t rocket science, but it does involve a clear and focused commitment to understanding your customers’ needs, your business goals, and how you can use today’s technology to meet both in new and better ways. Good UX is never one-and-done. It’s a living organism full of ongoing possibility—if only you continue to nurture it in smart and purposeful ways.