Mckinsey’s report on the business value of design offers some interesting insights. There is a strong link between the financial performance of a company and its design capabilities. Companies with the best financial returns have combined design and business leadership through a customer-centric vision. Gaining strength from this very report, here are some of the key findings that I’d like to share with you.
It is true that many businesses are still lagging behind in their design capabilities. One of the reasons is that the value of UX design can be hard to quantify. There are no standard design metrics that actively show to the management how designs tie to meet business goals. While companies need stronger design capabilities, creating the great design is only getting harder.
We, at Net Solutions, believe that there is still more potential for design-driven growth. But along with the right tools and capabilities, it requires the right mindset for taking the necessary steps towards delivering a great UX for your customers. If you also believe in the value-creating ability of good UX design, but lack the necessary capabilities, here are seven ways in which a UX design agency can help.
1. Perform UX Assessment of Your Digital Products
Companies have been investing considerably in digital assets, like mobile apps, for the past few years. But these may not be delivering the intended experience or the desired performance. Before you think about embarking on a redesign project, it is advisable to find out the gaps in the user experience that the existing products are delivering.
A UX design agency can perform the assessment that can help identify gaps in the existing capabilities. The insights gained can be utilized to inform a redesign strategy. Performing a UX assessment requires knowledge of Usability Heuristics and techniques like Cognitive Walkthroughs, which a UX practitioner will possess.
2. Get Insights about What Your Customers Need
Typically, projects are carried out with a “copy and paste” mindset. Unfortunately, this is a hindrance to innovation, which is, however, essential for great UX. A good design process always begins with an approach that combines user research — quantitative (such as usability analytics) and qualitative (such as user interviews).
One of the challenges in conducting user research is to recruit real users. Thankfully, because of social media and smart devices with messaging capabilities, research can be conducted remotely. A UX design agency will be able to organize the methods and tools to conduct the necessary research
3. Perform Usability Testing of Your Digital Products
Usability testing offers a direct assessment of the usability of a system. Researchers will observe the participants’ struggle with specific user interface elements and infer which aspects of the design are problematic and which work well.
By observing other participants’ encounter (or not) the same difficulty, a UX practitioner will determine whether the respective UI element is poorly designed. These insights can help remove the friction that is deteriorating the quality of the user experience.
4. Create Rapid Prototypes and Iterate
Rapid prototyping accelerates design iterations from the concept to the prototyping stage. Prototypes help validate the potential design concepts by testing how the design ties in with customers’ needs at the design stage. This helps in deciding whether to proceed with a concept to the engineering stage or to pursue other ideas.
Rapid prototyping is one of the essential capabilities that are required to deliver a great UX. It requires a design thinking mindset, the necessary tools, and the ability to work collaboratively with all stakeholders, which a UX design agency can provide.
5. Create Cross-Functional Teams
The design is not the responsibility of a single person. It requires cross-functional collaboration. Companies, that are internally organized in different departments, find it difficult to work on a common goal. This is an obstacle in delivering great designs.
A design thinking mindset, that a UX design agency will bring to the table, can help break the departmental silos and foster cross-functional collaboration, based on a shared mission and shared ownership.
6. Identify Relevant Metrics
UX measurement includes three types of metrics:
- Perception metrics (e.g. NPA scores)
- Descriptive metrics like form abandonment rates
- Outcome metrics, for e.g.. conversion rates, average order sizes, number of calls by reason, how often customers escalate to the call center.
These metrics are typically owned by different departments, like IT, marketing, and customer service.
A UX design agency can help uncover these metrics through stakeholder interviews.
7. Create a UX Strategy
It is important to determine what content and functionality your digital products should deliver in order to match the customers’ needs, and also drive business objectives. This knowledge exists within an organization but may require extracting from key staff members.
UX design agencies can help by interviewing key stakeholders and sales and support staff. This helps in getting key insights about the business vision and pain points that need attention. By identifying the capabilities and then evaluating these capabilities, a UX practitioner can help create a strategy that informs the design of new digital products and services that will help improve the user experience.
Such an agency, in short, can not only help you identify what it is that may be missing in your existing UX initiatives but also help you streamline the process and implement the imperatives that you need for a great UX.