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Rachel Donné

Lead UX Designer

  • Writer's pictureRachel Donné

The Importance of UX Strategy in Design: A Comprehensive Guide




Some people may need to become more familiar with the term UX strategy. I want to shed some light on the concept here and give a little background on how I’ve used it. Long story short, a UX strategy is a document that outlines the goals a company or team has for their UX design. It’s an opportunity for multiple teams with very different strengths and disciplines to align on the outlook of UX for a given project. Once a project starts and everyone is engrossed in their part of the process, it can be helpful to look back and remember the map and direction everyone is heading and how that affects the end user. 


UX


UX, or user experience, is a person’s overall experience with a product or service. How hard was the product to use? Did they find what they were looking for? Did it work as expected? 

Instead of focusing on the product itself like a development team, the UX designer focuses on how a user will interact with the product and assets the development team in making decisions that will translate better down the line.

A great example of this is adding new features to an existing product. While it may seem intuitive to say the more features you create, the better the product will be, less is usually more. Through UX research and a deep understanding of the targeted customers, companies can save much-wasted development time on unused features.

Think about the variety of banks there are in the world. They offer many of the same services and features: access to checking and savings accounts and various cards with similar rewards. At some point, we all choose a bank. This choice is rarely due to services and features, as most offer matching options. Instead, users look for convenience and access to their accounts. When using their money, how easy do you make their experience?

User experience at its core is three things: visual design, content design, and interaction design.    


Visual Design: When I first began in this industry, people assumed that user experience was about one thing: how the product looks. Primarily, conversations were around colors, fonts, and images. 


Content Design: More recently, there has been a focus on the content of products, i.e., the copy and language used to speak with your users. Things like tone and mood have come into the ring of UX exploration, with much thought given to how product language makes a user feel.    


Interaction Design: This is the true bread and butter of UX design. Even without content or visual design, if you have good interaction design, a user should be able to navigate through a paper bag and come out excited by the process. 


Strategy


Now for the strategy of these UX principles. 

Where are we now – It’s critical to understand where your project is right now. This can include a discussion of several areas


Customers – Who are they, their current and future needs, and their current perceptions of your product?


Competitors – How is your product compared to what’s on the market? What are some new initiatives that competitors are releasing soon?

Industry trends – Have there been recent shifts in the industry your product is in? What about technology?


Your organization – What are the perceptions of your company? How do customers and employees feel? How can that perception be improved through product improvements?

Where do you want to be – Positioning statements are a great way to outline the direction of a project. When it comes to UX strategy, it’s also essential to consider the whole business strategy. This includes goals (broad aims) and objectives (specific and measurable targets.)


Defining Your Goals


Goals are naturally specific to your product and team; however, these are some goals that I have worked with in the past:


Design for everyone: This includes the aim of designing a product that serves 80% or more of users. There will often be individual requests for features and updates that do not serve the greater user base. Having a clear idea of who your 80% audience is will help to weed out these requests and save development time. 


Optimize for efficiency: All internet and app-based products are judged heavily for their speed and efficiency. While some engineering issues may slow down a user’s progress, there is still much the UX designer can do to remove unnecessary steps to get them to their destination quickly and smoothly.


The user is always first: A product should focus on the user to make sales. However, when designing in a large company or team with many stakeholders, priorities can clash, and the user’s needs may fall by the wayside. The UX designer must always advocate for the user and share solid reasons for user-centered design decisions with stakeholders.  

Establishing and continuing to monitor the UX strategy from the beginning of any project will give you the structure needed to hit your project goals and objectives. It will also help to illuminate extra development work, saving your team time and resources. Finally, it will lead to a satisfying user experience and, ideally, a successful product!


Like this post? I’m always interested to hear about new and exciting projects that I can help lead UX strategy and design. Reach out anytime with questions/comments.


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