Just ask Facebook. Airbnb. Tinder. None of these companies’ products were new. They just built them better—in ways that resonated with their end users. Nearly 2 billion people per month use Facebook, and “swipe right” now is in our cultural lexicon. If you don’t believe in the power of UX, you went to the wrong business school. More than ever, smart leaders are focusing on smart UX to differentiate themselves. UX itself is becoming the next great “disruption.”
Still, although many are beginning to understand the inherent power of UX, some are still unsure how to do it well. Operating in silos or dealing with disjointed legacy org structures, it can be difficult to create a seamless and innovative strategy for a distant end user. Below, I share some tips for doing UX well.
Allow UX to Guide Design
When developing any product or software, UX must be a top consideration. It’s not enough to hire a great UX consultant to incorporate usability after the fact. Instead, put your UX experts in leadership roles from the very start. This way, UX is guiding your design process, rather than joining in for a night cap.
If You Build It (Well), They Will Come
I’ve seen some great business people stubbornly stick to software that was difficult to use, just because it got the job done. That mindset will never work in the digital economy. Mass adoption has officially outranked mastery in the tech game. Rather than focusing on creating a genius product that is difficult for the average person to understand, focus on creating a project that is easy to use and answers the end users’ most immediate needs. If you build it well, they will come.
Know Your Audience
You can’t build a product your audience will use if you don’t know your audience. Whether you are working for B2B or B2C, you need to get a clear understanding of the end user: how and when they’ll interact with the product, and how they can do it even better. Interview them. Survey them. Sit with them and watch where and how they stumble when moving through your product’s design. The only way to improve UX is to see it working in the real world. That means testing, testing—and more testing—until you get it right.
Understand Your Business
Creating a product that works well is one thing; creating one that aligns with your company’s ultimate goal of being profitable is another. Just ask Uber. In the end, no matter what app or software you design, it needs to work with your overall business goals if you want your company to survive in the long term. UX makes it possible to focus on mass adoption first, and profitability later. But the profitability must at some point be part of the plan.
Make UX Part of Your Culture
Google’s HEART strategy—Happiness, Engagement, Adoption, Retention, Task Success—makes it easy for employees at every level of the organization to understand the important role UX plays in the company’s success. If customers aren’t happy and engaged, they won’t adopt or stay. When they are, everybody wins. Make UX a part of your culture. Work it into everyday meetings, updates, and conversations to ensure mass adoption of UX from the top down.
There is no magic bullet in UX, just as there is no magic bullet in business. The same UX strategy can’t be slapped onto every new product you design and assumed it will work just as well. The most successful businesses will look at every new product as a chance to create a unique UX experience—one that catches on like UX wildfire. The least successful companies—they’ll be the ones getting burned.
Additional Resources on This Topic
The Value of Getting UX Right the First Time
User Experience is About to Have Its Day
Greatest Values CIOs and IT Teams Can Deliver: User Experience