User Experience #UX is not Just Fancy Design

by Karyn Zuidinga

on October 28, 2014

Good user experience or UX has the power to help transform your organization.

The question of the value of UX has risen up again. Lately I’ve noted a number of articles about the ROI of UX, and questions and posts essentially asking the question, why bother. The subtext is "We don’t need a fancy design, why bother with this UX stuff."

Here’s why you need to bother with UX and why UX is not just 'fancy' design:

When you design for the user experience you design for the whole experience. Apart from the very high ROI and resulting customer satisfaction (some links below on this), you also wind up solving design problems you didn’t even know you had yet.

In one case, a fairly straightforward B2B website redesign, the CEO of the company we were doing the work for had become disenchanted with the web, the site had become very dated, and sales through the site had bottomed out. There was great frustration within the company, with several people telling us they were embarrassed by the site.

The discovery process had its challenges as there was resistance from some staff who simply had given up believing in the channel at all. The CEO was supportive and as engaged as he could be, but also sensitive to his employees feelings of being discouraged, so the process was ‘wobbly’ at best. On top of that, by digging in and asking the typical UX questions like:

  • how does this work?
  • who benefits?
  • why do you believe your customers need this?
  • how do they place orders now?
  • what happens when they place an order online then call in for a follow up?
  • what’s important about these products?
  • is there other information the customer needs?

We highlighted a number of internal as well as external issues. We worked with our client and developer to design solutions for those issues. In some cases we had to push a little to get our client to invest in a better user experience.

Sales are up but so is the energy of the company

Here’s the interesting thing, once the new site launched, and the company started getting positive feedback from their customers, and some of the process issues that were identified started working a whole lot better, we saw that spark of creativity grow within the company again. Since the launch a few months ago, we’re seeing a number of new marketing initiatives, and the CEO is now considering ways to leverage his new web-based platform for growth. We’ve also recently heard that the company is having it’s best month in sales ever.

No one is saying all the problems went away because of one UX project. Nor do we think we can take all the credit for the hugely positive changes that are happening within the company. A good team, good management, and good product are all essential. This company had all of that.

We are saying that the tangible ROI from the effort has been very good. Sales through the website are up. We are also saying that we think the intangible benefits, the increased pride and energy we’re seeing, are even higher. That a good UX project can act as a catalyst to help energize the other positive changes.

The story above is not the first time we’ve seen this. I suspect that this is a fairly common refrain out there among other UX folk. Do you have a positive story to share about how good UX is having spin-off benefits in your organization? I’d love to hear it.

More on the value of UX:

The User is Drunk
What is User Experience?
Fancy Schmancy Toast Image

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