15 October 2018 - Tim O' Sullivan

How To Convince Your Boss To Invest in User Experience (UX) Design

The role of the marketer is becoming increasingly challenging. Customers no longer take notice of push advertising and will only engage with a company when, where and how it suits them. People aren’t just buying products or services, they are buying an experience. Unless you have a store presence, these ‘experiences’ are more often than not, online.

As a marketer you are, no doubt aware that the website is still the most important marketing channel for the majority of businesses today and the competition for the customers’ ever-decreasing attention span is cut throat. So the online experience for your customer must be top notch.

What is User Experience Design?

The goal of User experience design (UX) in business is to “improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.” To put it another way, if your website doesn’t provide an easy and pleasurable experience for your customers or potential customers then they’ll be gone in two clicks. Don’t make it so easy for your competitors.

The ROI of UX

Some interesting stats: Forester Research (paid report) shows that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. That’s an ROI of a whopping 9,900 percent. The Design Management Institute has found that design-centric companies (such as Apple, Coca-Cola, and IBM) outperformed the S&P index (which indicates the industry’s average performance) by 228% over a 10-year period from 2003 to 2013.

OK, so your business is not going to be the next Apple but there is clear statistical evidence to prove that a well-executed website will yield a very positive return on investment.

“UX design is an investment, not an overhead.”

So maybe you know your website is totally outdated and hampering business. You have some ideas that could fix it, but how should you approach getting the website a UX overhaul. Who do you need to convince?

The people in your organisation who are concerned with sales and with making financial decisions are a good audience for your UX idea. Before you start the conversation and possibly suffering the indignity of having your bright idea of investing in UX being shot down in a meeting, follow these tips.

1. Web analytics

You can back up your argument with stats from your web analytics. Especially look at what’s happening when people reach a critical point — perhaps a conversion — and see if people are dropping off. This drop off suggests the user has encountered a problem and are not carrying through. It’s the job of the user experience designer to find out what the problem is.

2. Research

There is a wealth of untapped information in every organisation about their websites’ users, i.e. the customers. People such as front-line sales or customer service staff probably have a litany of comments from customers about the problems with your company’s website. Truth be known, everyone in the company probably has an opinion of things that are wrong with it.

Tap into this and record all these issues in your research. Essentially, anything that makes the user journey (eg. from homepage to checkout page) a bad experience.

If you can get to talk to your customers first hand then that’s even better. This is your strongest weapon against any dissenters. Whatever people think about what you have to say, this isn’t just your opinion, this is what the customer is saying.

Anything that makes this customer journey difficult, frustrating or simply doesn’t work, is costing you money and losing revenue opportunities.

“Design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.”
— Brenda Laurel, PhD, Independent Scholar

3. Testing the users

Taking this one step further would be employing what is known as usability testing to drive your point home. This involves putting real users in front of your website and ask them to complete a couple of simple tasks like e.g, ‘buy a shovel’. This will require them to make the journey from home page, locating the product page, finding the earth-moving category, picking out a shovel and completing the transaction at checkout. Ask your testers to talk you through their journey as they do it live. You want them to tell you what they’re thinking, what are they looking for, what they expect to see, what they’re trying to find but can’t. It’s a good idea to write a usability test script so that all your testers are answering the same questions making it easier for your statistical analysis.

4. Competition

Look at what your competitors are doing. Analyse how they present themselves and their products online. Take the customer journey yourself and see how it compares to yours. Is it easier, clearer to follow? Slick design, great images and an altogether better look & feel can indicate that a competitor has engaged UX design in developing their website. Remember, people are basically just like Magpies. We like bright shiny new things and will make a judgment about a company within seconds of visiting their website. Your competitor could be attracting better clients because of their cool new website that is just a pleasure to visit. It delights the user.

5. Getting management support

According to Jared Spool, one of the foremost thinkers in UX today says, “you need to find out what your bosses are already convinced of. If they are good at what they do, they likely have something they want to improve. It’s likely to be related to improving revenue, reducing cost, growing customer numbers….or increasing shareholder value.

Good UX can help with all those things.”

Once you know what that is, frame your work within that context.

“For every dollar invested in UX yields a return of $2 to $100.”

What next?

So you’ve identified the problems with your website and you’ve validated these insights with research and data. What next?

Present your findings to key stakeholders outlining your research findings and how the analytics is showing resultant loss of opportunities. Give examples of where the issues and the pain points on the customer’s journey lie. You will need to be able to demonstrate how solving usability problems will lead to measurable improvements in return on investment. There are numerous other benefits to improving your websites’ usability. Think of the possibility of reducing support calls, converting, retaining customers and improving the response to customer inquiries.

Show don’t tell.

All your arguments need to be backed up with data. Data from your analytics, user feedback from testing, stats from online sources, comparable case studies. There’s a wealth of information out there you can use to back up your argument. You may find yourself in a room with people who think they know what’s best for the website or brand because they are more senior. Remember, data should overrule opinions no matter who has them.

Scare them, Inspire them, Start small.

In his book, User Experience Revolution, Paul Boag outlined steps to help to get management buy-in.

1. Scare your management

Nothing motivates people more the threat of something being taken away. The most obvious being loss of business to competition. Don’t just scare them, offer a solution otherwise they’ll feel overwhelmed.

2. Inspire Management 

Give them some idea of what the future looks like. inspire them to what is possible. It could be a series of workshops before a big flash event. A big relaunch.

3. Give management a simple next step

The greatest of journey’s starts with a single step. The harder the journey, the greater resistance you’ll get. Ask them to take a small step towards the bigger project and they will be far more likely to say yes.

Thumbs Up from The Board

So everybody liked your presentation and you’ve been given the green light, what are your options?

You may be given the option to fix the issues in-house or to engage a UX design agency to do it for you. Coming from an agency I’m always going to recommend the agency route but budget, resource and time constraints don’t always make that a viable option. But look, the ultimate aim is to delight customers. You won’t find too many bosses not wanting to make their customers happy. They may be willing to loosen the purse strings if you’ve adequately demonstrated that UX design is an investment, not an overhead.

Outsource to a UX Designer/Agency

Engaging with a specialist UX agency or UX designer is one route. Keeping it in-house is another. The work you’ve already done on research will inform the UX designer/agency but it is always a good idea to have them independently conduct usability testing with real users which will involve having users follow customer journey whilst recording the issues and pain points encountered.

The UX Process

Armed with the research, the UX agency will usually follow a process similar to the illustration above.

Go It Alone

If you have a list of basic, easy to fix UX problems that need to be solved, you could have some in-house techie or employ a freelance guy to do it on the cheap. This is not an option I’d recommend as it may not yield the results you’d promised management. Or the young techie in the beanie who skateboards to work has just wrecked your website and compromised customer’s data secuity. Not a good look for you.

If you have no budget to engage a UX designer/agency, there are always some low hanging fruit in terms of quick fixes you can focus your attention on. These are the quick fixes that are straightforward enough to implement and should provide some results.

Fix The Copy

For example, many companies design for themselves rather than their users. Often words that make sense to the company don’t make sense to their customers and these can end up causing confusion. If you happen to sell spades, call a spade a spade and not an excavation solution even if, as a marketer, you think the latter description makes you product sound more sophisticated.

The agency route

If the entire website needs to be dragged out into the backyard and set alight with a match then find a UX agency who will take a far deeper, more strategic approach to designing your new website. As with most good UX agencies, We at Friday follow a process and collaborate closely with our clients with the goal of providing a best-in-class web experience for their customers.

The investment in UX design can dramatically improve the image of a company and yield a major return.

If you plan to invest in your website, Talk to us

You may even sell more spades.