Table of Contents

Navigating UX Strategy: From User Needs to Business Goals

Imagine you are visiting a new coffee shop that just opened in your city downtown. You are excited because you’ve heard a lot about it. However, when you arrive, the layout of the place seems confusing, the menu is hard to read, and it is unclear how you can place an order. This awful experience may make you think twice before returning, despite the flavor or quality of the coffee being offered.

This is a real-life example that demonstrates a fundamental truth. Just like navigating a poorly designed coffee shop deters you from returning, a poorly planned website or app can turn users away, even before they can discover the value it offers.

Anything worthwhile, including creating an effective digital platform, begins with a strategic plan for success. Successful websites and apps are those that either make or save money and are invariably those that deliver superior user experience.

We need to visualize and address high-level questions to plan for success:
1) Why does the website or app exist?
2) Who is it for, and what value does it provide?
3) How will success be measured, and what can be achieved with the available resources?

These foundational questions must be answered before any development begins.

User Needs + Business Objectives

The user experience expert not only addresses the information and concerns related to the users' needs, but also insists on selecting and analyzing task flows and functional elements and actions that serve a greater business goal. This greater goal is something we often call the UX value loop, meaning that we will build something that creates value to users, but also gives value to the product's creator.

This loop starts with the user perceiving value and acting to receive proof of the value. If this happens, they begin to trust the product or app. This trust will lead them to join, share, purchase or support the product. What do we need to do to ensure this happens to the website or app? What do we need to happen to feel like this building effort was successful? We need to remember the business needs research too! By analyzing how the business part defines success, how they measure it, and what the direct and indirect competition are, we can start uncovering the business objectives.

  1. Identification of Business Goals

Product stakeholders carry the risk of the website or app's success because they are the first source for what success truly means! We start every project by identifying who the key stakeholders are. To define success, it is important to look for measurable goals and desired outcomes: What needs to happen once we launch, how does every product department answer this question and how do they measure success?

More explorative questions regarding the reason behind the build of this product might be:

  • - Will these new features or app convince people to purchase?
  • - What about the competitors? Will this help increase adoption and the number of new users?

Analyzing the industry, best practices, regulations, preconceptions, and expectations is imperative to build and launch a new product or app. Other important aspects to visualize are the terminology and language, tone of voice and design, and business processes.

  1. Analysis of Competition

Secondly, we need to analyze the competitors, and these are of two kinds: direct and indirect. Direct competitors offer the same set of products and services as your website or app, and indirect competitors offer some features of what your product offers, but not completely the same.

  1. User Research

Before diving into the development of a service, website, or app, it is crucial to understand user expectations. Fulfilling these expectations is key to encouraging usage and adoption. You can consider what is important to users, their other objectives, and the tools they currently use. One great aspect of user research is its flexibility; and it does not have to be overly formal! Simply by asking questions, seeking answers, and interpreting the findings, you are effectively conducting user research.

If you do not take time to consider the needs and expectations of the user, it means you might be building features for yourself. In almost every case, your needs are different from the users. You’ve got to ask questions of the people who will be using what you design and build, and those people fall into two basic categories: B2B users (those who visit the site or the app to conduct business activities), and B2C users (those who visit and use your product to be entertained, informed, or to purchase products or services).

User Needs + Strategy

Now that we know about business stakeholders and users themselves, their goals, and expectations, how do we use this information to make decisions about information architecture, content strategy, or technology? To accomplish this, we need to connect all of it with a decision path.

It will tell us about how much information and interaction the user might need at any point to make a decision or take action. Secondly, we need to figure out what information the user needs to get into the process and how to organize it and prioritize it.

From Figma Community

 

Decision paths align with the concept of progressive disclosure, which advocates for a user interface that evolves from simple to complex in a natural progression. This approach reflects how the brain typically processes information. At each step, only the necessary or requested information should be shown. When we present irrelevant or premature information to users it can be distracting or disorienting, as it becomes noise rather than useful data.

Controlling Project Scope

It is essential to deliberately define the functionality, content, interactions, and data your website or app must support to understand precisely what users need from your product. Generating these requirements involves engaging in meaningful discussions with users, clients, stakeholders, and the entire product team to uncover the critical needs and scenarios relevant to your project.

The more features we plan to implement, the more detailed our approach needs to be, including design specifics, coding requirements, and necessary technology. For existing products, user feedback often shapes requirements. For new sites or products, understanding the needs of a specific target audience is crucial. Additionally, stakeholder expectations to deliver ROI can also influence these requirements.

Three Types of UX Requirements

There are three types of requirements,
1) Things people say they need,
2) Things they actually need and
3) Things they do not know they need

All of these will need to be considered before generating requirements.

For things people say they need, we make confident and sometimes false predictions about our future behavior. Our preferences are influenced by our emotions and environment.

Secondly, for the things people need, it happens that when we have trouble with something, it can be effortless to imagine a solution. However, that solution will often address a symptom instead or an underlying problem. This is an effective way to start generating requirements, but it needs to be qualified and validated and action processes and motivations attached to the problem must be uncovered. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we fully understand every step in every task flow of every user role?
  • Do we have evidence that tells us we will solve a recurring problem?
  • Is there research or user observation to fill these information gaps?

For the things people do not realize they need, the desired outcome is more critical than the tool itself. It is vital to discuss expected outcomes rather than just features, functions, or content. When problems arise, convenience is key. Therefore, we should focus not only on the problems that users face but also on their desired outcomes.

Documenting Requirements? Yes, please!

You must document any requirements you establish. Contrary to the belief that agile methodology eliminates the need for documentation, it just reduces it. Documentation is crucial as it provides a scope and reference point throughout the project lifecycle. Shared documentation ensures that everyone has a consistent way to describe and understand project details

When the scope is unclear and unmanaged, features and tasks can increase endlessly. To control this, it is crucial to question, "What can we realistically achieve?" considering factors like time, budget, team skills, complexity, and delivery timelines.

A clear route to completion is essential!

How to Plan for User Testing

Now that you have developed this fantastic tool and are eager to see it in action, it is crucial to begin testing. How will your account for different devices, screen resolutions, and bug fixes? Why is it important to start planning for testing immediately?

First, clarify the testing scope, including devices and browsers, to focus efforts and save time.

Setting clear expectations for testing will also help minimize misunderstandings now and after launch. Usability testing, which assesses navigation, content, presentation, and task success rates, can be done in both moderated and unmoderated formats.

How easily can users find what they need? How long would it take? How will the structure of your site or app align with their expectations?

Who are you testing for?

The first thing you need to get clear about are the scenarios that are more relevant for your audience. Start by asking:

  • What are the most popular devices they will use?
  • What OS or browsers are most popular among your audience?
  • How tech-savvy is your demographic?

UX Strategy - Key Takeaways

  • Three key insights are essential from the start: identifying what is worthwhile, understanding what we are developing, and recognizing the value it brings. Remember, no product, website, or app is without competitors.
  • Progressive disclosure is a crucial UI/UX principle. Information irrelevant to the interested party is merely distracting noise.
  • There are three types of user requirements: those users articulate as needs, those they genuinely need, and those they are unaware they need.
  • When you need to get requirements in a fast way, a particularly effective way to go is to create user scenarios!
  • Documentation makes life good; it eliminates excuses, surprises, and unexpected outcomes.
  • You should be realistic about what matters most when testing, not every scenario counts and matters!

About Estefania Anaya

https://www.linkedin.com/in/estefania-anaya0/

UI/UX Designer and Inclusive Design Advocate. Focused on User Research Methodologies, Interfaces, and Digital Products. I have been a speaker at several events on UX and accessibility topics. Innovation is about people!

 

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