A few years ago, having a UX Strategy was an unthinkable move. Traditionally, analysis and research efforts were channelled towards the products, rarely on what the user experiences. Clients and managers defined what they wanted, how they wanted it. Then, they sought designers who stand ready to follow their plan to the letter. In their quest to satisfy clients and managers, designers side-line the primary target of any digital product - the user.
As designers became aware of the actual value of the customer’s perspective, more eyes turned toward mapping the process users go through that eventually brings them to products.
The competition today in UX and the constant evolution of digital products have changed some UX designers’ job descriptions. Stakeholders have realized that digital development necessitated that business goals align with users’ needs and expectations. If the project’s primary goals exclude the customer, there is a good chance of a short run.
Innovative organizations in today’s business understand that UX is not just part of its policy; it is the business. UX strategy has enormous potential for driving sales up, engaging intelligently with customers, and making products more likable.
What is a UX Strategy?
Here is how Jamie Levy, a UX strategist and designer, defines it:
UX strategy is the process that should be started first before the design or development of a digital product begins. It’s the vision of a solution that needs to be validated with real potential customers to prove that it’s desired in the marketplace. Although UX design encompasses numerous details such as visual design, content messaging, and how easy it is for a user to accomplish a task, UX strategy is the ‘Big Picture.’ It is the high-level plan to achieve one or more business goals under conditions of uncertainty.
In simple words, a UX strategy is the long-term plan for a digital product. It aligns the needs, objectives, and business goals to meet the primary purpose: satisfying the user. UX strategy is interested in solving UX problems from both users’ and business perspectives.
UX Strategy and UX Design
UX strategy should not be confused with UX design. Although their endgame is to create a satisfactory product for users, they hold different UX business roles.
UX Planet differentiates UX strategy and UX design like this:
To differentiate between UX strategy and UX design, we can say that UX design is concerned with usability, content, and interaction design while UX strategy is concerned with the big picture, the direction of the product and achieving business goals.
UX design is a long-term plan to meet user and business goals.
UX design is interested in the overall experience of the user. UX strategy is interested in the balance between user-centered design and business goals.
UX design focuses on visuals, interactions, prototyping, wireframes, user personas, and process flow to create a pleasing user experience. UX strategy applies these principles to the business goals of the organization. UX design should be a direct result of what follows from any given UX strategy. Even though one of the concepts contains the other, we best examine both individually, should we desire to keep our course toward business excellence.
How to create a UX strategy
The strategy for providing the best for the customer starts with some self-reflection:
- Where we are
- Where we want to go
- How we get there
A good UX strategy research is bound to delve into a detailed examination of these three questions and all possible follow-ups.
Where we are
This question helps UX strategists understand the present communication level between the company and its clients. It is a multi-aspect examination including users, competitors, business leaders, the industry, the product, the organization, and all stakeholders.
To properly analyze a realistic self-image of an organization, UX strategists must ask other important questions. They may seem like many questions, but strategizing is one of the most challenging jobs, and it has an extensive list of relevant variables. To concoct the UX strategy bound to bring improvements, we leave no stones unturned.
- Who are the users?
- What are their needs?
- How can we meet these needs?
- Who is the competition?
- How are they better than us?
- How are we better than them?
- What do we need to improve?
- What are our strengths and weaknesses?
- What are the industry trends?
- How are they shifting?
- Who are the business leaders and managers?
- What do they want?
- Which product do we have?
- Who is it for?
- How is it performing in the market?
Where we want to go
This question is a futuristic one that looks at the company’s visions, mission, goals, objectives, and statements. It takes a comprehensive look at the company’s future, what it aims to achieve, and the direction it wants to go.
This question also has a critical follow-up:
- How do we want our product to perform in the market?
How do we get there?
Digital products are not standalone items hanging online; they are part of a comprehensive online and offline networks, merged with the company’s mission and brand, creating memorable user experiences.
This idea — of a seamless and well-designed experience and a journey through a brand — should lie at the heart of a considered UX strategy.
Customers meet a brand from multiple angles – these are called touch points. These include websites, apps/mobile experiences, emails, physical appearance and feel of the product, social media, support, and virtual assistants. Consistency in UX includes examining all the touch points in which the user will contact the brand.
To whom does a UX strategist work?
UX strategy is a long-term process. It requires collaboration, cooperation, and input of all parties involved in creating an application, including the users, from the beginning of the project and after the product launch.
The UX strategists take data from the users to understand their expectations from a product. They research competitors and competing applications to check their weaknesses and strengths and become something different and better.
They work with the project managers and business leaders to better understand their goals and what product design would achieve them. They work with UI (User Interface) and UX designers to outline visual methods, interactions, and user experiences that align with the organization’s goals using UX methodologies, tools, and frameworks.
Throughout this process, everybody involved must constantly be on the same page. If a conflict of interest arises within the groups involved, the UX strategist tries to invoke a balance by leveling these differences before the project starts.
Importance of UX Strategy
Many clients and managers still feel having a UX team onboard is a waste of money. But a UX team helps manage costs and save time. They,
- Minimize risks. UX strategists study the market, user preferences, product performances, and profits to find user needs and experiences. By doing so, they minimize the risk of launching without success
- The project carries out based on facts and data, not assumptions or biases
- UX strategy supplies guidelines, rules, documentation, and analysis for implementation by the design and development to create digital products well received by both users and managers
- They prioritize resources
- Bring together different teams to share and work towards the same vision
After launching the product, UX strategists have crucial follow-up obligations:
- Monitor product development, user’s behavioral patterns, and feedback
- Seek new ways to improve the product to create better experiences for the user
- Observe trends and innovative technology
- Observe the key platforms/devices users must access the products
Platforms and Devices
Digital products practically live online on various devices. UX strategy also focuses on the best devices that can carry out the job and what platforms or operating systems support the application (desktop or mobile).
Devices are never a clear-cut entity. A mobile app must run smoothly, and address discrepancies related to all the screen widths and sizes. These two variables: 1) screen size and 2) operating systems are enough to cause apps to misbehave and render any UX strategy completely useless if left with unaddressed issues.
After defining the user targets and demographics, the UX strategist works with the UI and UX designer to create wireframes and User Interfaces (UI) for each application version. This mission is a big step towards creating a seamless experience for all users. Multi-device support is what makes a seamless switch across devices possible for users without compromising their experience.
UX Strategists Skills
UX strategists are skilled UX designers, usually senior professionals, with lots of experience with technical tools, methodologies, and UX design frameworks behind their backs. They have experience having worked on a wide variety of projects. Junior designers could aspire to be UX strategists, but they must get the technical know-how of UX design and business strategies.
The first skill needed by a UX strategist is technical skills, which are but not limited to, visual interactions, wireframes, prototyping, user personas, etc. Other skills include negotiation skills, research skills, design thinking skills, decision-making skills, and analytical skills, taking part in comprehensive solutions like UX solutions for personal branding.
UX strategists balance user experience with business strategies; they must have core UX skills and business development skills combined.
UX strategy and strategists are still in their early days. With a problematic skillset at their base, these roles appear in more prominent tech companies where specialization is treasured and rewarded.
According to Heath Umbach, Product Marketer at TRUX, “A strategist is needed when a product or an idea of a product doesn’t exist yet. The UX strategist is the person least tied to something tangible. They are the most willing to create something entirely new.”
UX strategists may be the most willing to try something new, but their positive influence spreads far beyond big companies or daring, innovative projects.
Some smaller firms with decent tech ability have crumbled because of a lack of adequate planning and research. A UX strategist is an indispensable figure, especially in competition-driven environments like eCommerce, and their role cannot be over-emphasized.
As software development continues to evolve, we at CodeCoda focus on providing this essential role to our customers and bringing first-class strategic User Experience Strategy to all our clients’ projects.