User experience strategy guides UX teams through the process of conceptualizing and designing digital products and is as essential as your company’s mission statement. It bridges the gap between UX design and business strategy, allowing teams to reasonably prioritize tasks, ensuring no resources are wasted on non-essential aspects of product development. In today’s article, our web design agency in Chicago presents the essential steps in creating a UX strategy. Throughout this post, we’ll help you forge a well-rounded plan for aligning website user experience with your business’s overall goals and objectives.
What is a UX strategy?
Website user experience strategy defines how you want your customers to experience your brand and interact with your product. When creating a UX strategy, UX designers must look at both the business and user sides of their brand. Here are the most critical points to consider throughout the process:
- The way your company defines user experience and its relation to your brand
- The way UX design aligns with your product strategy
- The way user experience aligns with your business objectives
- Both qualitative and quantitative data on user personas (behaviors, needs, expectations)
- The way market trends influence user experience
- Competitor analysis
- How current website performance correlates with future goals
- Defining, prioritizing, and executing website goals, objectives, and key performance indicators
- User research process
- Reporting findings to stakeholders (in case you are designing a website for a company other than your own)
Why is creating a UX strategy important?
The end-user is the central point of website design. However, throughout the designing process and website development, it may happen that the brand and its goals don’t get emphasized the way they should be. Implementing a UX strategy makes it easier to keep the focus on the organization and align the website with the experience you want your users to have with your brand. Furthermore, a UX strategy ensures that the company and its stakeholders have a say during research, designing process, and usability testing.
Here are the main reasons why businesses need to have a UX strategy:
- UX strategy keeps stakeholders informed on user experience and the benefits that UX design brings to the organization
- It streamlines UX research, design process and design QA process
- It outlines ways to measure the success of user experience
- It provides a higher level of understanding of the importance of UX design
- It helps deliver the values and promises of your brand to the end-user
First steps in creating a UX strategy
With years of experience in providing web design services, our UX strategy creation process starts with data research and multiple conversations with relevant people. That includes:
- Primary stakeholders
- Secondary stakeholders
- Beta testers
- Experts in the subject matter
- Competitors’ users
- Industry data
Primary stakeholders are persons in charge of the digital product. In most startup companies, these are usually the CEO and CTO. On the other hand, more established companies often have multiple C-suite members.
The main interest of primary stakeholders is usually the way the user experience impacts company growth, money flow, business value, and profits. In order to get prepared for the interview with primary stakeholders, consider asking them the following questions:
- What are the main reasons for choosing this revenue model?
- What are your biggest concerns regarding the user experience, and why?
- What do you feel is functioning well so far?
- How would you compare your website to your competitors’?
- What metrics would you like to see improved?
Before the interview takes place, it is important to research the role of each primary stakeholder within the company. That will allow you to ask relevant questions in order to get meaningful feedback during the discovery phase.
Secondary stakeholders are responsible for managing various departments and executing the company’s objectives. These are usually digital product managers, marketing leads, lead researchers, executives, and other professionals that either influence or rely on digital products’ UX.
These people know the company’s ins and outs and understand its challenges and constraints. It is actually these elements that primarily impact the user experience as a whole.
During the interview with secondary stakeholders, asking them about their concerns and expectations is crucial. That will give you a better idea of various areas you can explore when creating a UX strategy that aligns with high-level directives. It is once again important to ask questions within their area of expertise, as anything beyond that may result in misleading information and best guesses.
Focus on their roles and the way their responsibilities may affect users.
If the digital product already exists (for example, if you are doing additional work on a website that is already live), you can talk to its current users to get their perspective as part of your website strategy. It is important to avoid offering compensation for these interviews since that may influence their feedback. Interviewing current users is really important when it comes to eCommerce web design.
At the beginning of the interview, you should explain that you are looking for ways to improve the website. Here are a few guidelines to follow when preparing for these interviews:
- Schedule calls or in-person interviews with at least three users. That should be enough since, after a certain number of interviews, you’ll probably start hearing the same things over again.
- Take other team members with you. Another designer could take notes while you ask questions, while a marketer or a developer could gather firsthand info on users’ behaviors and habits regarding the website use.
- Take notes on the way users found the website and the features they found most useful.
- Your questions should focus on their behavior rather than feelings or preferences.
- Avoid asking simple yes or no questions. Open-ended questions result in more meaningful feedback.
- Consider the list of questions you prepared as a guideline rather than a strict script. Ask a lot of follow-up questions and see where the conversation takes you. This way, you’ll get a chance to explore things you may not have considered prior to the interview.
Talking with beta testers can sometimes be the most challenging part of creating a UX strategy. Beta testers are usually more frustrated with bugs or the website’s lack of certain features. It is your job to note those issues and focus on the problems your website aims to resolve.
Experts in subject matter
These experts can help you get a grasp on the context of the market, digital product, and user data. Experts in the subject matter are:
- Experienced visual designers
- Programming and technical specialists
- Behavioral psychologists
- User researchers
- Data scientists
- Project managers
- Successful startup owners
- Business consultants
You should prepare well for these interviews and come up with only the questions related to your website, users, and business goals. It is essential to take note of all of their answers instead of only considering those that support the narrative your business holds.
The best way to understand your competitive advantages and the way that impacts creating a UX strategy is to research what users think about your competitors’ websites. The easiest way to find their pain points is to read competitors’ reviews. Make parallels between your website and theirs and take notes of common complaints. It is also a good idea to check positive reviews and see what users like about their websites. You can use that info to implement some of the features on your website.
Combining user feedback and analytics data will put patterns in user behavior into context. For example, if data shows a significant number of drop-offs during signup and users also complain about their troubles in navigating the signup flow, you’ll easily be able to see the correlation between feedback and data. You can combine event-tracking tools such as KISSMetrics and predictive behavior tools like MadKudu to better understand the meaning and weight of each feedback.
Tips for creating a UX strategy
Now, we have finally come to the main topic of our conversation. So far, we have discussed ways to prepare for creating a UX strategy. In this section of the article, we’ll outline the approach you should take as we suggest essential steps in creating a successful UX strategy.
Keep a user-centered approach
Always keep users at the center of your focus and set your goals accordingly. As we have mentioned at the beginning of the article, the main reason for creating a UX strategy in the first place is to align the goals of your business with user experience design. That means you should not try to profit at the expense of your users but rather tend to their needs and wants.
Prioritize users over profits
We have just mentioned this, but here is a chance to elaborate. While the goal of every business is to make a profit, the user experience should always be transparent. For example, if the primary purpose of your website is to gather subscriptions to your services, don’t make your users struggle to cancel the subscription. The word spreads out really fast, so a practice like this can do more damage than good in the long run.
Define the business UX roadmap
While preparing for this task, you interviewed various users and stakeholders. Now it’s time to use that information to define a long-term roadmap for website design and user experience.
Set specific and realistic goals
Identify your website design based on:
- Stakeholder feedback
- User research
- Competitor analysis
It is important to be as explicit as possible with your goals. For example, instead of planning to increase user signups, be specific and set a goal of increasing user signups by 20% each year. Stick to those plans and deliver on the promises made.
Define circumstances of use
Identify circumstances under which your audience uses your website. Define:
Elaborate on your users and their environment as much as you can. That will help your designers connect with your audience on a higher level when thinking about UX. One more thing to remember is that the experience that your users have with your business extends far beyond your website and onto ads, messaging, policies, user agreements, and customer support.
Make regular strategy reviews and updates
Considering the world is in constant motion, and people’s aspirations change, your website user experience strategy mustn’t be set in stone. It should rather evolve over time and adapt to new technologies, market shifts, legislations, and whatever comes your company’s way.
It would be wise to go over your strategy at least once a year to ensure that you remain on the right track regarding your long-term objectives. This is when you’ll likely benefit from choosing the right web design agency. Also, review the previous year’s performance to check whether you should update your goals or maybe even set new ones.
As you can see, a well-crafted UX strategy can help you map out the best possible outcome for both your users and stakeholders. The process helps you and your team identify problem areas, reflect on them, and ask important questions regarding the future. Still, bear in mind that creating the strategy isn’t enough for it to bring profitable results; each team member should use it as a guide to achieving positive results. Moreover, it’s advisable to reflect on your strategy every now and then to ensure your goals are being met and determine any obstacles that might come along the way.