Guide to Digital Design — The Business Side of Design

Author Paula Grubiša
Category Design
Date May 13, 2021
9 min read

Good user experience design can bring numerous benefits both to the company or a brand behind a certain product or a service, but also to the users.

Every digital product or service has its own user experience, but UX isn’t limited to digital products — everything around us has its own UX. A chair that you’re sitting on, the cup you’re drinking out of, the bottle you’re opening… every product we’re using has its own user experience, and its business value depends on it. If you have a product that has bad UX, it can affect your sales and revenue. 

There are many ways to improve the user experience of a certain service or a product, and it can bring numerous benefits to your business, company, but most of all, to the real people that will use that service or a product. To produce human-centered design solutions, the process requires that you analyze past experiences of the people that were using the product, research the needs and purposes of the people that will use it, research good ways of supporting those needs and purposes, and the most important part — test your designs to validate if they’re built to support those people. If not, this is the valuable insight that enables you to iterate your solutions in the right way.

The main benefits that of a good UX design

  • Return on investment
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Reduced development costs
  • Increase user conversions
  • Accelerated product life cycle
  • More users returning to the product
  • Increased revenue
  • Increased number of new users

The business value of a good user experience

One of the key benefits of a good user experience is the return on investment (ROI) — it’s the main parameter that contributes to the final results of the project. As an example, we will take some of the visually attractive designs from Dribbble, which are most aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching, but in the end, the functionality of such a design is questionable. Most often, while working on a dribbble shots, the focus of the designer is not on the user and the experience, but on making the shot look nice, while UX itself is not thought through. Even the UI choices are unrealistic since most often there’s almost no way that the approach to components design would function in the real world and development. From the perspective of a UX designer, it is often clear that there was no consciousness of working for a specific persona, using the real libraries and design patterns, and thinking if the feature would be executable in the real development. Those kinds of dribbble shots can be very appealing and memorable, but when it comes to product design, this approach oftentimes wouldn’t work for the real person that could be using the product. On the other hand, if you focus on UX only, your interface can look unattractive, which can also make your users turn to competition. The point is, one can’t function without the other, and neither one side of design should be undervalued.

What makes design successful?

The main purpose of design is to solve problems and help both companies and real people to accomplish their purposes and needs. Designers are expected to be responsible for measuring good user experience and testing design to collect and demonstrate the results of its use — you can’t just make a design without following its results. Such research used to be too expensive, but today there’s a large number of services that offer various research methods. These days, online surveys are the cheapest and most effective method as data can be collected fast and automatically, and as awareness of the values ​​of UX in companies is growing around the world, budgets for such research are increasing.

The measurable values ​​of UX design are:

  • User engagement and use of features
  • Customer retention and customer recovery
  • Conversion — actions taken by the user
  • Customer satisfaction and experience

How to measure ROI of design?

There are six business areas where the user experience can improve return on investment — revenue, customer retention, development and support costs, team productivity and development time. Basically, it all comes down to two basic components: money and time, and investing in user experience design can save it both.

Investing in UX saves money and time

In addition to investing money and time to design a pleasant user experience that can result in huge revenue growth, a good approach to UX design can also save large amounts of money. For companies that sell digital products, a lot of time, energy and money is invested in their development, but these same products in which money and time are invested, usually fail because of the lack of proper user research that results in missing the opportunity to meet real people’s purposes. 

Poorly executed design is actually very expensive for business. Conducting proper user research and testing ideas and prototypes in the early stages of digital product development can save a large amount of money and time as it provides insight into real problem space at the very beginning. In the end, UX is not just about design, it’s about holistic strategy. Creating a vision and plan that will delight users and deliver tangible business results is the foundation of a good user experience design. Other than that, good UX also can also increase the productivity of the project team because people working on a solution don’t waste time rethinking different options or ideas, but can focus on specific, researched goals that meet the needs of the real people that will use the product. 

Measurable values ​​of user experience design

1. Conversion rate

The first way to measure ROI in a user experience design is the conversion rate. The conversion rate is defined as the percentage of people who take the “desired action”, and the “desired action” depends on what the user wants to do using the digital product (e.g. the desired action in a webshop is to buy items for sale). The conversion rate is measured over a period of time, and that period usually spans the entire sales cycle, but it’s important to keep in mind that the ROI at UX cannot be increased overnight — it takes time for the money invested in UX to show in the business results. Conversion rates need to be measured from month to month, compared and analyzed to see the final results. 

2. Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who browse one page before leaving, and optimizing a page with user experience research can encourage visitors to stay on a particular website and visit other pages. The home page exit rate, before and after investing in UX, can be used as a measure of ROI. Through the Google Analytics Tool, you can compare optimized pages (those where you have invested in UX) and pages that are not optimized, and thus get specific figures that justify investing in the design of the user experience. 

3. NPS (Net promoter score)

The net promoter score, or NPS for short, is used to understand customer loyalty to a particular brand, and it is directly related to revenue growth. Using this metric, customer satisfaction and potential revenue growth can be measured. As a first step, NPS is measured before investing in the user experience and used as a benchmark, then UX user surveys are conducted through NPS surveys and the implementation of necessary code changes and design updates. This method may take longer than other methods, but provides accurate insight into user behavior. 

4. Customer support via Chatbot

Websites that have customer support via chatbot can answer questions from visitors and users in a very short time — after all, 64% of internet users stated that 24-hour service is the best feature of a chatbot. The experience of interacting with a chatbot makes websites more enjoyable and can influence the overall experience of the user.

Chatbots offer an interesting insight into the confusing points of your product or website. By identifying common questions, users can directly point out the errors and ambiguities of the product and instruct the designers in which direction iterations and updates are needed. 

These customer support requests can take any of the following forms:

• “Can’t find XXX”

• “How to perform XXX action”

• “Is XXX possible”

In addition to improving the user experience, working on and resolving frequently asked questions can simplify internal team operations and allow the support team to focus on long-term projects and more demanding tasks instead of constantly answering similar or identical questions to users. 

5. Getting to know the end user

The most important part of testing is to conduct it on a group of people that are relevant for the project, and we call them personas. Creating personas can help designers and stakeholders to clearly illustrate the problem space they’re dealing with, but also the people that they’re affecting. A lot of people assume that the main aspect of creating personas is demographics, but it’s far from that. The truth is that thinking about strict demographics and simplification of humanity can cause more damage than good, as it can cause assumptions and subconscious stereotypes which leads the whole design team and team members to shortcuts in thinking. That’s why reasoning should be the main focus when creating well-created personas — you should include reactions, guiding principles and inner thoughts of people for deeper concepts and understanding. 

The main part of the whole process is stepping away from bias to prevent causing harm or discrimination. As every person has its own thoughts based on its previous knowledge and experiences, every individual has its own perception of a certain situation, topic or a product.  

Empathy is of extreme importance as it can help designers find out the background story and reasoning for personal preferences and statements, and ultimately guide to creating a better product or service that will fit the users’ needs. But there’s a lot of exceptions that should be taken into consideration, such as discriminations exceptions, age and gender exceptions, ethnicity and location exceptions. 

For this cause, Google Analytics is used for specific metrics such as search terms, pages visited, retention on the page and leaving the page. This way, the habits and movements of the users so far can be understood to some extent and points of improvement in the overall user experience can be revealed — it is important to satisfy a real need, not a user’s desire. In addition to data that can be read from Google Analytics, designers can often use data collected from surveys conducted through various tools, such as Hotjar, Bugsee and Appsee tool, and comments that users post on social networks.

6. End-user testing

Today, a large number of tools is used to test prototypes — Google Optimize, UserZoom, Crazy Egg, Lopp11, UserTesting and Event tracking in Google Analytics, and A/B testing are just some of the methods and tools used to measure design results. The Google search engine tests keyword combinations with search results, explores users and their needs, and creates a strategy based on assumptions and hypotheses that are tested and upgraded until the desired results are achieved. 

Also, there are good old live usability testings with finished prototypes that can be easily done with 7-15 people per persona that can give you solid insights on how to improve the design solutions for real people in meaningful ways. This type of data is qualitative, but it beats a lot of quantitative metrics since it gives you context and direct results of your designs. This can be much more valuable for understanding the results of your efforts than a large amount of data you don’t have context for and you would need to research the context either way to get to the insight.

The challenge of measuring UX performance

Measuring the value of a UX design is a rather demanding task, many companies don’t even know how to do it — what metrics to use or how to track values. It is more difficult to associate numerical values ​​and importance with design ROI when it comes to profit, but the true value of design can still be recognized through multiple approaches and strategies. One of the strategies involves researching the costs of bad design and reducing costs that way — sometimes precise figures are not needed, but it is enough to indicate the design points that cost the client money and results. The large number of calls and requests to customer service, the cancellation of subscriptions and the reduction in the number of visitors and orders are often factors that indicate those points that need to be refined. In addition to the strategy mentioned above, there is another strategy — a strategy of positive user experiences in which new values that will increase customer satisfaction ​​are added to the product, and these values ​​are usually reached by researching users and making well-thought-out decisions and iterations based on user-centered design principles. 

Let’s wrap it up

The values ​​that UX design can bring are important to the user and the company or brand behind the user experience itself. From a user perspective, a good user experience design helps get everyday tasks done as quickly and efficiently as possible — from setting wake-up alarms, online video calls with family, streaming music, or using calculators and calendars, the purpose of each of them is that the user can use it as easily and intuitively as possible.

The success of the design can also be measured by conducting testing on prototypes — tasks and goals are defined and they are joined by positive and negative values ​​and user experience is evaluated (error rate, cancellation, number of successful actions, duration of visits, etc.). In this very step, the problematic points of the design are noticed and the iterations of the prototype can start, and in order to do this as well as possible, designers use different methods that can help them in the process of creating the solution that will fit their users’ needs.

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