Agile UX Research & Profitable Businesses: An Executive’s Perspective
Agile UX Research is helping Executives make more profitable businesses.
I wouldn’t be breaking any new ground here by saying it’s every Executive’s essential business function to make their company more profitable. To this end, we do everything in our power to make decisions that positively impact financial results and lead to more sales, better product design, enhanced retention amongst customers, and increased brand loyalty.
An essential function of an Executive then is to pay attention to new trends that enable their companies to achieve these results. Which is why when experience design, design-thinking and user-centered design processes were shown to pay dividends our ears perked up.
But while we saw the importance of research and testing with users, we had an important decision to weigh out. At the time the only way to get this user research was through costly usability labs. The speed (or lack thereof) and high cost of implementing and collecting this user feedback in a usability lab were barriers to adoption. When the pros were weighed against the cons, some companies chose to either not adopt user-centered design and usability research or to do it sporadically and haphazardly.
Modern technology has changed all of this.
Enter the Age of Agile UX Research
We are now in an age where conducting user research and usability testing both during the design phase and continuously after launch is now cost-effective and fast, thanks to software that allows companies to automate the collection of quantitative and qualitative data, and go beyond the “what” to get the “why” and “how.”
Agile UX research has many perks. Nielsen Normal Group, for example, says, “Agile will continue to gain momentum as organizations discover the benefits. UX professionals must adapt to Agile and lean UX processes, which value transparency, collaboration, and responsiveness or risk being left behind.”
And while there are the implicit benefits to researchers and designers, agile UX research is also benefitting Executives in big-picture ways.
What Agile UX Research Does for Executives
Feeds the Management Dashboard with UX Quality Metrics
Executives work best when making informed decisions based on metrics and numbers rather than gut and intuition, which is why many of us live and breathe in dashboards. Having a continuous flow of information based on UX-centric KPIs means that your dashboard remains up to date and relevant. This allows executives to quantify usability metrics, track them over time and in turn refine the experience for customers.
A second benefit of having usability-based KPI dashboards is the ability for companies to create competitive KPI dashboards by running competitive benchmarks and comparing the results. Competitive intelligence is something most large companies are slow to gather and even slower to respond to. Agile UX research helps companies have more immediate visibility in the competitive landscape and be able to respond more quickly.
Enhances Collaboration & Aligned Objectives
A continuous flow of information, and the ability to easily share results with the click of a button, allows for enhanced communication between teams and departments, such as Product, Design and Engineering. This digitalization of insights allows teams to collaborate and align their objectives in a much more efficient way than was previously possible. The end result is an organization that is user-centric and making informed decisions — rather than one segment of it.
Goes Beyond Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Even today there are some companies that only capture a Net Promoter Score and use that as their litmus test for the user experience of their product. Mature organizations need to realize that in order to be truly next-generation and progressive they have to move beyond Net Promoter Score and dive into the WHYs, the HOWs and the specifics of the experience that customers enjoyed and didn’t enjoy.
Being able to hone in on specific areas of the experience to improve, make quick iterations, and re-test in an agile manner allows executives to make better-informed decisions. This leads companies to make better products, and yes, be more profitable.
My concerns as an Executive – always pushing for a better product, better experiences for users, being more competitive, having all teams be focused on the same goals – are not unique to my business or even my industry. What all these goals have in common, and why they are every Executive’s concerns, is that their outcomes result in a more profitable business.
This is why Agile UX research is an essential step for companies, all the way from designers and researchers to the C-suite.
Originally from Madrid, Spain, Alfonso has 17 years of experience in User Experience, Digital Marketing, Ecommerce, Web Design, Web Project Management, User-Centered Design and Usability Testing.
Before founding UserZoom, he worked for companies such as Dell Computers, Icon Medialab (now LBi / Digitas), and Proxicom’s venture in Spain (now Indra). He’s a frequent speaker at UX conferences, has taught usability courses at various universities, and collaborates with the Stanford University Technology Ventures Program.