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Need revenue growth? Here are six ways UX design can help.

In our modern world nearly everything you interact with has been designed. However, not everything is well-designed. Some of the things you interact with on a daily basis can be annoying or plain frustrating — sometimes so much so that you to abandon them or find an alternative.

That’s why market leaders pour significant resources into product design. No company is more celebrated for its design-first ethos than Apple, which has long championed design thinking as critical to its business model. The results speak for themselves: Quarter in and quarter out, Apple competes with Amazon and Microsoft as the most valuable company in the world.

Across categories — from hair dryers to home shares to electric cars — brands that lead with design have proven they can charge a significant premium for their goods and services.

Yet even today, companies (particularly in the B2B space) often overlook the critical importance of great design when it comes to their apps and websites. They do so at their own peril. You may have the most elegant and useful offerings in the marketplace; but if your digital properties don’t engage and serve users, you may never earn their serious consideration.

That is where user experience, known as UX, design comes in.

At its heart, UX design is essentially an elaboration of design principles for the technology age. It is the application of a range of disciplines, all focused toward determining the needs and preferences of end users and the problems they are trying to solve. UX design is often used interchangeably with “user interface design”; but UI design is really just one of the disciplines of UX design. Other related disciplines include analytics, visual design, motion design, storytelling, information architecture, usability testing, interaction design, and cognitive psychology.

UX design doesn’t ignore business goals; quite the contrary, it takes them as the framing guidelines for success. Done well, UX design pays dividends to both the business and the customer.

Here are six reasons why good UX design should be at the heart of your digital initiatives (followed by three steps to execute it for your own digital properties).

1. First impressions are nearly instantaneous — and often last forever.

When a user visits your website or app, it is often the first time he or she is interacting with your brand. Too often, it is the last.

According to a trio of studies, it only takes a user about 50 milliseconds to form a first impression of your site — and, in turn, your brand. UX design helps inform you about what your users want and expect your site to deliver and what problems they are looking for it to solve. This insight will help to inform your design and the functionality your users are expecting so you can deliver a good first impression.

2. Disappointed users rarely return.

Among those users who don’t leave after their first impression, 88 percent said that they are less likely to revisit a website if they had a bad user experience. This means that even if you retain them after their immediate first impressions, if you don’t deliver what they want or expect in a smooth and clear way, you will lose the vast majority of your users after their first visit.

3. UX design helps to align business goals with user goals.

Venn diagram of Business goals, user goals and appropriate for website. Center where all overlap is "success."Every company wants a website to work for it and help the organization achieve its business goals. However, it is very hard for your website to do that for your business if it doesn’t work for your users and help them achieve their goals. As legendary Braun designer Dieter Rams put it, “You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people.”

By looking at your business goals and the user’s goals, the process of UX design helps to shine a light on exactly what your website should be focused on.

4. UX design saves you money.

Good UX design is the result of comprehensive research and testing using wireframes, prototypes, user tests and analytics research to better inform the design and the functionality that users will expect from your site. By doing all of this before the visual design is conceived or any code is written, significant cost and time savings are possible.

In the book “Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach,” author Robert Pressman demonstrates that, “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.” 

5. UX design can increase your revenue.

By making your site easy to use, reducing the number of steps it takes for a user to reach his or her goal, and employing very clear calls to action that your user will understand, you can increase your conversion rate considerably, and in turn increase your revenue. As discussed in Forbes,* good UX design can increase your conversion rate 200 percent to 400 percent.

6. UX design increases brand awareness and loyalty.

A happy user is a loyal customer. If you solve a user’s problems and create an enjoyable experience, that user will remember you and think upon your brand in a positive way. This, in turn, breeds brand loyalty and advocacy — compounding the positive impacts of strong UX design down the road.

Convinced? Great. Now what?

At PartnersCreative we have helped dozens of brands develop digital properties including websites, apps, VR experiences and more. Over time we’ve developed a scalable, three-phase process to ensure that the user’s experience is memorable, enjoyable and useful.

It starts with a discovery phase in which we establish objectives, review design parameters and desired functionality, audit existing content and site analytics, research keywords, interview stakeholders and survey the competitive landscape. It’s important in this phase to also look at how your goals and plans relate to your brand promise, personality and business definition. Ultimately your aim here is to establish the business imperatives and market realities that will drive your project.

Then it’s time to shift the focus to your users — what they need, what they value, their abilities, their technologies and also their limitations. We research and map these parameters through a variety of approaches including user surveys, persona development and user stories. The results of this work feeds directly into architecture and user flow, where we map out experiences that serve your users through techniques such as card sorts, wireframes and site maps. Along the way, we develop a thorough content and migration plan that identifies what will be kept and migrated from the existing site or app, and what will be created from scratch.

Finally, the creative work begins: developing designs that balance user needs, visual engagement, functionality by device and ease of management. The basis for achieving that balance is the research, personas, information architecture and wireframes that were developed earlier in the project.

This approach can feel slow-moving at first. But we’ve found that it inevitably results in a smoother process and significantly higher quality deliverable in the end — one that drives improved user satisfaction, brand engagement and, ultimately, revenues.

Of course, there’s one last, vitally important step in this process: You still need to make sure that your products and services themselves make customers happy, too. … On that note we like to remember the great quote from Ralph Caplan: “Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.”

PHOTO by Hal Gatewood.

* The Forbes report cites a lengthy Forrester Report that is available to Forrester clients or for purchase, here.