If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail! This quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. But whoever said it, it definitely applies to your UX strategy. The UX design process can be complex, so you shouldn’t leave things to chance. Much as a successful business plan must be dynamic and ever evolving, so must UX strategy.
So, how exactly do you get started planning a UX strategy that is adaptable? This guide will walk you through what UX strategy is, and the steps you need to follow to end up with a successful project that can easily evolve to improve the user experience. To get you started, we’ll look at what design strategy is for UX.
What is UX Strategy?
User experience (UX) strategy is the plan for designing the user experience of using your digital products. This includes bringing together technical know-how, business strategy, customer needs, and your vision for the experience you want the user to have.
Confused about UI (User Interface) vs UX design? UI design is about the coding of a site or app to make it work. Meanwhile, UX design strategy is not the design itself but rather the “big picture” plan for a UX project. It’s a road map for how you will design your product to provide the best user experience.
Your UX strategy is not just about a single product. Just as companies use a style guide to ensure blog content is in sync, a UX strategy is used to harmonize your approach to UX development for every product you create.
Done right, your UX design strategy helps you build a relationship with your end users, promote your brand, and increase conversions. Additionally, the UX strategy must remain adaptable. For example, tweaking the design of the Shine banking app to focus on simplicity and user needs resulted in more than 80% of people completing the onboarding flow.
Keep it simple, focus on an action, a screen should be designed to maximise the result, one action, one screen. Do not reinvent the wheel, always remember thatless is more.
And ASOS, an online retailer, cut cart abandonment in half by stripping back registration requirements.
The checkout experience now felt less arduously invasive and more carefree. The new changes led to cutting their former cart abandonment rate in half!
UX Strategy Techniques
Before moving onto the steps to create a UX strategy, you should evaluate the various ways a UX strategy project can be managed to determine what is best for you and your team. Four common techniques used by UX Strategists are Agile UX, Lean UX, Kanban, and Scrum.
Agile UX brings Agile software development techniques to UX design. It brings together the entire UX team of designers, developers, and the product manager in a collaborative process. Related to that, Lean UX uses Agile processes to measure and validate ideas, and get quick feedback to enable swift product releases.
Kanban is a system of boards and cards (for example, in software like Trello) that makes it easy to track different parts of the UX design and development workflow in one place.
Scrum is another Agile methodology where developers, designers, and testers work together on UX design. The Scrum framework emphasizes teamwork and iterative, or incremental, progress towards the finished UX design.
Ready to get started with designing an adaptable UX strategy? Here are six steps to ensure success.
1. User Research and UX Strategy
UX Strategy begins with asking the right questions. Lots of them. Before creating a UX strategy, extensive UX research needs to be done. There needs to be a good understanding of the market and your target audience.
Who are your core customers? Whether you’re talking business or marketing, it’s essential to understand who you’re designing for. Your UX strategy won’t mean a thing unless it’s targeted.
Who are your competitors? Who else is offering the same approach to UX design as you are, or a similar product to the one you’re planning to design?
What other approaches could you take? If there’s a competitor product that’s likely to resonate with your core customers, what are they doing right that you could improve on?
It’s useful to create a spreadsheet or database to collect your data, so you can see at a glance, where you are in relation to competitor businesses and your customers’ needs.
Speaking of customers’ needs, don’t make assumptions. Instead, survey your customers to find out more about what matters to them. There are lots of ways to do this. For example, you can create an onsite form, use a popup form on your website, or use a survey tool. For best results, use open questions, like the ones below:
- What would improve the experience of using our product or website?
- What do you like most about our product or website?
- Which features of our product or website are most/least important to you?
- How likely are you to recommend our product or website to a friend/colleague? Why?
- How did you find out about our product or website?
The point of these questions is to get a clear understanding of where your business sits in the market you’re entering, and what matters to users. Check out this article for more guidance on designing user experience surveys. You also need to ask your team questions to make sure you’re all on the same page. Consider questions like:
- What overall problem do we want our product to solve?
- What is our user experience strategy? How do we want our customers to use our product and feel about it? What would help us to achieve that?
- What are all of the possible “touchpoints”, or interactions, for the product?
- Does your design team understand our current approach to UX design and product vision?
- What would your UX designers change about that approach if they could, and why?
- What are our business goals? Think customer retention and revenue.
Andrew Kucheriavy, UXMC, founder and CEO of Intechnic Corporation, (who’s known as the UX Master) says:
When talking about UX, most people focus on usability and ease of use. However even more important is the usefulness of your product or service. Does it add value? Does it save time? Does it provide for a better experience? How is it better than the alternatives? Ensuring that your product or digital experience is not only user-friendly but is also useful is at the core of every successful UX strategy. And deciding whether it is useful or not shouldn’t be up to you or project stakeholders. It should be up to the end-user. So make sure to validate every single feature and focus only on the things that truly make a difference. This way you will prevent a scope-creep and will deliver a truly user-centric experience.
These questions help you to figure out high-level goals and the context for your UX design approach.
2. Understand the Key Platforms for UX Planning
When it comes to UX planning, it’s no longer a case of desktop vs. mobile interfaces. Mobile isn’t just one thing: it’s a number of operating systems and screen sizes, and the user experience will be different on each. Your app won’t behave the same way on an Apple TV as on an iPhone. The UI will be different again on a desktop computer running Windows and an Android tablet.
The solution: figure out what devices your customers are using, so you can wireframe and mockup versions of your UI for each one. You can find this information in Google Analytics device tracking and mobile tracking reports. This will help you establish how customers are using your website or product now, and which UIs are most important for you to optimize.
When planning mobile UX strategy Andrew Kucheriavy says:
The most important thing is understanding the actual situations, where and how the mobile website or app will be used. For example, we recently worked on the mobile experience for a recipe website. We determined that people tend to hold their mobile devices differently because their hands are messy from cooking. This ended up changing the entire experience. Understanding how site visitors are using their device, and fully appreciating the context, will help you design a better experience for the end-user. You have to factor in the mental model of the user, what they do before and after, their internet connectivity at the moment, the type of the device they’re using, the capabilities of the device, and how users can rely on capabilities and gestures to help simplify their experience.
3. Creating a UX Strategy Outline
Now that you’ve done your homework, you can begin to outline your UX strategy based on your user research and the technique you’re implementing. The outline should be a blend of UX design and business strategy. You will also need to establish the metrics, or KPIs, you will use to evaluate success. Keep in mind that this outline will evolve and continue to be developed over time.
4. Setting Your UX KPIs
The first three steps provide the background information to the nitty-gritty of UX strategy. Next, it’s time to use the research you’ve done to refine your design strategy and goals.
At this point you should be clear about:
- Who your UX design is for – your target customers
- What approach you are taking and why
- What you expect to achieve and how you plan to measure it
- When you want to start and end the project
You’ll use that last step to create a project timeline. That’ll include your start and end date, plus key product development milestones and dates for achieving them. Don’t be wishy-washy during the process; be specific, and you’re more likely to hit those targets.
5. User Experience Analytics – Develop, Test, Revise
The only way to know if your UX strategy works is by applying it to the development of an actual product. A good starting point is a minimum viable product (MVP). That’s the smallest iteration you can get away with to test whether your conclusions about the product, the need, the audience, and the UX are correct.
This is where you do user testing and collect even more feedback. And that feedback isn’t just about the form (how the product looks), but the function (does it actually work?). In addition to surveys, you’ll employ usability testing tools, heatmap tools, web analytics, and more as you go through successive rounds of testing.
At the end of this process, you’ll know whether your UX strategy has worked so you can create the right product for the right audience, and achieve the right kind of online profile for your business.
6. Product Release and Revisions
As business goals evolve and user experience design needs are better understood, revisions will be needed. This is why it is so important that your UX strategy outline remains adaptable, to accommodate changes and new product releases. Agile UX is a great tool for this, as it encompasses constant research, even after the product release. Through iterations, user experience design can be molded to better serve the end user.
Why Staying Adaptable is Crucial
Brand strategy and user needs and expectations change overtime. What was considered cutting edge not that long ago can suddenly be outdated. To keep up, your UX strategy must be flexible to meet ever changing consumer demands. By staying on top of current trends and implementing a UX strategy that is versatile, there will be no need for complete overhauls.
Ready to get started on your next product? Learn how Slickplan can help with your UX strategy.