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Catherine Holmgren

User experience has gained huge momentum in recent years, and for big commercial companies, it’s now unthinkable to have a digital team without a UX specialist contributing to product change.

For the most part, the days when websites were entirely focussed on what the business wanted to say are far behind us. However, what differs between industries is the level of input and influence the UX team has within the organisation, and how businesses rate the importance of user needs when developing their product or service.

User-centred design is when ideas and direction for product developments follow an assessment of what users actually want and need.

If you are trying to encourage your business to make the big leap to user-centred design, these points may help you make your case:

Save Time and Money

Many businesses make the mistake of looking at user needs too late in the development process. This means that it is either no longer possible to modify the product into what a user might want, or it will cost time and money to change what has already been done.

Stop Internal Opinions Dictating Developments

When decisions are made in a meeting room by staff, it is often the loudest or most senior person in the room who will make those crucial choices which shape the whole direction of a project. What about what your users want?

It is crucial to make big decisions based on data and evidence rather than opinions and what everyone thinks the problems might be. Gather your data, talk to your users, get the evidence to show what will really make a difference, and improve your product.

End up with the Right Product

If your business is not building according to user need, and optimising the user experience, you run the risk of creating something nobody actually wants to use. Perhaps it meets business objectives, or is technically amazing, but users don’t actually want or like it.

User needs should be considered at the start of any development, and should usually be the reason why the development is happening in the first place.

So how can your business become user-led? Even if your company embraces the idea, how can you orchestrate this kind of transformation? Well, change doesn’t have to be hard if it makes sense. Take a look at these top tips:

Create Use Cases for your Product

Group your users into user types, and work out what each user type wants to do on your website. These are called use cases. For example:

 

UsageAs a…I want to…So that I can…
1Potential clientSee your company credentialsGain confidence in your credibility
2Job seekerQuickly find your job vacanciesApply for a job at your company


 

Some use cases will be relevant for multiple user types, and some will be specific to a particular persona.

For bigger websites you may need to have overarching use cases which cover a site as a whole, and then create use cases for each section of the site so that the lists are smaller and more manageable.

Develop your Product Based on Use Cases

Once you have your use cases, these should be the foundation on why you make changes. You need to assess whether all the use cases are being met, what their importance is (MOSCOW categorisation) , and where the gaps are.

If you are making changes to your site which do not address or improve your use cases, then why are you doing it? This is the argument you can make to the business.

Develop a Strategy for Continually Assessing User Needs

For an existing product, you need to have your finger on the pulse to assess where you currently are with meeting user needs. You need to set up some regular reports which measure the big KPIs. Use whatever data gathering tools you have at your fingertips which provide you with some user insight. Some good examples include: Google Analytics, customer surveys, call centre reports, etc.

Data and evidence are so essential for deciding and supporting your business cases, and making the right choices. If you need more tools to properly analyse your product, try and get them.
Report your findings back to the business regularly so that the business starts to see the impact when user experience is improved.

Use User Satisfaction as a Success Measure for Developments

When projects are being planned, UX KPIs should be within the success measures for that project. What use case are you optimising? What metric is being improved?

Embed UX Tasks into Business Processes

Make sure UX tasks and considerations are woven into the current way of doing things. Nobody likes a whole new process, so instead look for a way to shoehorn UX input into existing workflows. That way, you are talking about an extra line or two in a project plan, rather than a whole new process that everyone needs to learn.

Be an Ambassador for UX

Share learnings with your business, and help the key decision-makers understand the importance of considering user needs. Use every opportunity to highlight benefits seen from developments where user needs were at the heart of the decision-making process.

Get the Support of Senior Management

You can’t do it alone, and a little support goes a long way. It will be easier to make an impact and initiate change when senior management is excited about what you are doing. They will be even more excited if you can really show the difference being made to both users and to business goals – show evidence.

If you’d like to know more, take a look at our service page on User-Centred Design.

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