What is UX Strategy?

Camren Browne, contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

When you think of a really successful company, what comes to mind? Successful marketing? Superior customer service? Or, perhaps it’s a unique, cutting-edge product. Truth be told, exceptionally thriving businesses take all of these user touchpoints into consideration (and then some).

UX designers are often called upon at specific times in a company’s growth process. However, as the benefits of UX design are gaining traction with higher ups and C-suite level executives, more brands are employing UX designers to create quality experiences for their consumers at every contact point along the customer journey.

As the role of UX designers continues to broaden, it’s more important now than ever for designers to have well-defined goals and guidelines about the projects they are working on. This is where UX strategy comes in. We’ve dedicated this article to breaking down exactly what a UX strategy is, why it matters, and how to create one.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Now, let’s get started!

A group of designers and business people gathered around an idea board

What is a UX strategy?

A UX strategy is a detailed plan for how to keep a user’s experience with a brand in line with the overall goals and objectives of the company. UX strategy can help ensure an organization’s vision of what they want their customers to experience can become a reality while staying within predetermined company guidelines.

A good UX strategy consists of several important components. Some key elements of a UX strategy are as follows:

  • A well-defined goal for what you want your user experience to be
  • A detailed understanding of your user, their behaviors, expectations, and needs that has been developed through extensive qualitative and quantitative user research.
  • Information on trends within similar industries and what your competitors are doing.
  • A clear understanding of how the company or product is currently performing compared to where you want it to be.
  • A plan of what tasks need to be completed in order to fulfill these objectives as well as a set of agreed upon metrics that will measure your success.

All in all, UX strategy is a holistic, user-centered business plan that outlines what a brand’s user experience is at present, what they are aiming for, and how to get there. A UX strategy often spans organizational silos and is most productive when utilized across all departments so each customer touchpoint can be addressed and accounted for.

Why is UX strategy important?

Now that we’ve established what UX strategy is, you might be wondering why it matters. There are lots of reasons crafting a UX strategy is important, but for this article we’ve condensed the value of UX strategy into four main points.

1. UX strategy helps company executives see the benefit of UX design

The benefits that quality UX design can have on ROI and product success are becoming wildly apparent to clients and stakeholders alike as they delegate more resources and responsibility to UX designers. According to the Design Management Institute, design-led companies report 50% more loyal customers, a 41% higher market share, and 46% higher overall competitive advantage than companies without design at the forefront of their product decisions.

Three statistics visualized: 50% more loyal customers, a 41% higher market share, and 46% higher overall competitive advantage

However, some clients may still be unclear on exactly what UX designers do or how they can help a company reach their goals. Employing a UX strategy lets clients see exactly what their UX team will be working on, how it can be of worth to their company, and save them from having to invest in fixing errors down the road.

2. UX strategy provides a clear initiative and measure of success

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” –Bill Copeland

There are a million ways to create or re-design a user’s experience with a product. Starting a project with well-defined and measurable goals can prevent energy and resources being wasted on failed attempts, misdirection, or unproductive design methods. A UX strategy provides a clear-cut, company-wide idea of what they want to achieve, how to achieve it, and a quantifiable way to assess when the goal has been met.

3. UX strategy gives all team members an understanding of the user and keeps them on the same page

A designer’s focus is mainly on creating user-friendly products while higher-up executives are usually more concerned with reaching certain company targets like ROIs, profit margins, and total revenue. Drafting a UX strategy can often be the bridge between user-centered product design and overall business goals. A UX strategy can keep designers, CEOs, developers, and even customer service representatives aware of user needs, company objectives, and overall action plans when cultivating the ultimate user experience for their consumers.

4. UX strategy bridges the gap between brand promise and actual customer experience

There is an overwhelming wealth of digital products for users to choose from. When a brand’s promise doesn’t align with the actual experience a customer is having, users are more likely to abandon the product for another more reputable brand. Utilizing a UX strategy can help companies compare what their brand is promising to what their users’ experience is really like (thus building overall brand trust). Furthermore, it can highlight what actions need to be taken so the promise and experience can be in sync.

Now that we’ve clarified why UX strategy is so important, let’s dive into some tips for creating your own UX strategy.

Three UX designers gathers at a desk looking at their UX strategy

5 tips for creating your own UX strategy

The value of a UX strategy is quite apparent when building user-centered products. But what’s the best way to create one? We’ve come up with five critical tips when formulating your own UX strategy.

1. Stay user-centered

Many companies get caught up in designing products with their own preferences or profit goals in mind. While setting goals for ROIs and total revenue is important, keeping the user at the forefront of your UX strategy is key. An effective UX strategy contains plenty of data about your user, their current and future needs, their perception of your brand, and any plans for continued user research.

2. Define your business strategy

Once you have a good understanding of your user, you can start to combine user experience goals with overall goals for the business. Are there financial targets the organization wants to hit? Can employee satisfaction and efficiency be maximized? What improvements in company process, structure, culture, and performance can be made? How can we make them? These are all examples of questions to ask when defining business objectives within a UX strategy.

3. Consider all aspects of the user experience

Optimizing a user’s experience with a product is paramount, but it’s just as important to take a holistic approach and consider all of the touchpoints a customer has with a brand. A UX strategy that can give thought to what happens before and after a user interacts with the product can often lead to more satisfying user experiences and better overall brand perception. Additional user touch points include things like advertisements and marketing, purchasing processes, customer service support, and even service termination.

4. Keep your goals specific

The more specific your goals, the easier it will be to ascertain when they’ve been met or not. It will also be easier to track how effective your UX design team is. So, instead of vague goals like “increase user engagement,” aim for a more specific target: “A 20% increase in both mobile and desktop user engagement.” Furthermore, staying specific with your proposed research methods, marketing strategies, and overall plan of action keeps team members focused and working efficiently.

5. Optimize for speed and accessibility

While every UX strategy should be specialized to the individual organization, most all companies should keep speed and accessibility in mind.  Speed highly affects a user’s experience and should therefore have high priority in your UX strategy. Consumers today like things fast and will judge the quality of a product or service on how quickly and smoothly it operates. Additionally, while your designs should be tailored to your main user persona, it’s important to keep accessibility guidelines in mind so you aren’t shutting out any potential users.

Key takeaways

Building an innovative and user-friendly product takes a lot of planning, research, testing, and investment. It can be easy for design teams to get lost in ineffective research methods, unfocused user testing, endless iterations, or even forgetting overall company goals.

Employing a carefully curated UX strategy helps prevent these mishaps as well as money lost in fixing development errors, miscommunication between team members, or designing a product that ends in failure. Starting out with a clear and comprehensive UX strategy may be the difference between a product with stellar long term success and one that misses the mark!

To learn more about UX from a strategic standpoint, check out these articles:

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