Still not sure what user experience is all about? We’re here to help.

We’re halfway through 2016, and by now I’d hope that most executives are familiar with the terms “User Experience,” “User-Centered Design,” and “Usability.” Whether that’s because the company is actively pursuing improving their user experience, or because they’re slowly seeping into the organization’s vernacular via industry osmosis, it’s time for executives to become familiar with what these terms mean and the benefits they bring to their business.

Join us as we take a quick look into the benefits of great user experience and why executives should care about them.

User Experience (UX), UX Research, Usability, User-Centered Design: What’s In a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Shakespeare

It seems that as technology continues to advance our language is becoming inundated with so many phrases it can be hard to keep up (and let’s not even talk about acronyms). This is why we came up with a handy cheat sheet:

  • User Experience (UX): The overall experience of a person using a product or website or application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use
  • UX Research: The systematic investigation of UX, typically done through various techniques, in order to gain user insights that can be applied to the design process
  • Usability: The ease of use and learnability of a human-made object. In software engineering, usability is the degree to which a software can be used by specified consumers to achieve quantified objectives
  • User-Centered Design: A framework of processes in which the needs, wants, and limitations of end users of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of the design

Whether you’re intimately familiar with these terms, or dump them into the box where words like “synergy” and “game-changer” live, it’s time for executives to cement their relationship with one sweet word: profitability.

As our guest blogger Jose Coronado pointed out in his recent article, Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CXi) found that “better experience = higher revenue.” In their research, they quantify the impact of yearly revenue ranges between $177M to $311M for repurchase, retention and recommendation when the customer experience is positive. Additionally, according to the Design Value Index by the Design Management Institute (DMI), “Design-driven companies outperform the S&P 500 by 219%.”

Rising Customer Standards

There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’
– Bob Dylan

The digital world we inhabit, and (more importantly) that your customers inhabit, is one that is vastly different from the world businesses operated in even a few short years ago. This is due to the fact that your customer’s expectations are changing at the rapid pace of technology and companies are in a high stakes battle to serve and retain customers.

Ben Mclellan, ‎UX Design Manager at Debenhams, explains:

“The benchmark for user experience has been raised so high in recent years – particularly in the retail sector – and it’s essential that we put the customer at the heart of everything we do. The only way you can get this right is by testing with real users to find out how customers are using our websites and what improvements can be implemented.”

Essentially, if you’re not optimizing your user experience you’re losing ground to your competitors who are working very hard at optimizing theirs. Advanced UX research and usability testing software allows you to benchmark your digital properties performances against your competitors – giving you quantifiable metrics and thereby removing the guesswork for where you stand.

UX is Linked to Key Performance Indicators

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing,
You’ll never get it done
– Bruce Lee

Many executives say that they want to do things like cut costs, increase revenue, and expand brand loyalty. There have undoubtedly been many, many meetings with very smart people who think up different ways to make this a reality. Unfortunately, no amount of thinking is going to make these things a reality. That’s where UX comes into play – delivering the actionable insights that are required to make informed actions.

For example, we went ahead and identified two objectives that are generally important to the majority of executives and shown how UX plays an important role:

Reducing cost: Cost reduction can mean less wasted development time and a reduction of redesign costs. According to Dr. Susan Weinschenk up to 15% of IT projects are abandoned and at least 50% of a programmers’ time during the project is spent doing rework that is avoidable. This is a cost that could be reduced by implementing UX testing so that a user-oriented solution can be found early. Additionally, customer support cost can be lowered by finding and fixing potential issues before they arise at a user level.

Improving revenue: There is a tendency for businesses to focus on Web Analytics Data which only explain what people do on a site, e.g. abandon on a certain page, when looking at ways to improve conversions and increase revenue. Only when combined with UX Research can companies identify why users behave a certain way. By gaining a deeper understanding of the reasons why your costumers behave the way they do, better designs can be implemented and marketing / strategic decisions can be made with more accuracy at the management level to meet the needs of end-users.

Jose Coronado also shared a moment with us where taking action to improve their user experience led to a massive increase in conversion rates:

“A few years ago I lead the redesign of multiple products into a single, integrated product suite. One of the primary tasks was the creation of an integrated information architecture to reduce redundancies between the product modules and help us identify key areas for consolidation. The new product suite improved our sales conversion rate by 300% year over year and we were able to look towards the changes in taxonomy as a way to measure our success.”

Conclusion

While we’ve been talking about the benefits UX brings to the businesses that executives manage in this article, the benefits UX brings to executives doesn’t stop there. Our CEO Alfonso de la Nuez wrote an article recently on some of the benefits agile UX research brings to executives themselves. What ties them together is that the benefits UX brings to executives are the ability to make more profitable business decisions, which is in turn obviously great for the business.

Which is something every executive should probably be aware of.