Summary: Retaining a customer base, traffic, and reputation has become challenging with increased digitalization. The end-user experience defines a brand. It is an aggregate of many factors, including the UI of the digital product, navigation, and functional ease. Only an experienced UX Design Agency can help make it perfect. Let’s see what a design agency can do to create value for your business.
UX or User Experience is an amalgamation of aspects that enhance and define a user’s interaction with a brand – the company, its products & services. The brand’s value, the functional element, the general impression, and the usability all make up the user experience.
UX design involves creating the conditions that make a product usable, accessible, functional, findable, and credible. It requires research, creativity, technical expertise, and a holistic understanding of user needs. Everything about it involves people, and paying adequate attention helps maintain the customer base and brand image. In the digital sphere, a great UX design helps ensure that traffic stays on the digital product/application and has no reason to leave.
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What is good design?
Good UX design takes into consideration empathy, audience, the usability & usefulness of the design, and accessibility.
Empathy forms the foundation since it encompasses understanding the needs & pain points of the users. UX design adopts a user-centered approach, enveloping audience needs & expectations and building a connection for a solid customer base.
Usefulness & usability assume importance because engineers, designers, developers, and other teams involved in creating products/applications can only do so much to meet user demands. For audiences to benefit from the product designs, they need to be functional and usable. Moreover, all designs must be universal – accessible to people of all abilities.
From a broader perspective, you need to step beyond your ecosystem if you want to achieve design-driven growth. That’s where a UX design company can help create value for your business.
McKinsey & Co. points out in a report that design needs to work to “create a balance between financial feasibility with the environmental impact, user experience, social effects, purpose compatibility, and more.” In a modern framework, design considerations need to align themselves with the following:
Why is UX needed for business?
According to the McKinsey & Company Report on ‘The Business Value of Design, 2018,’ an organization’s financial performance and design capabilities are strongly linked. The report stated that design-centric organizations increase their revenues and shareholder returns at nearly 2x rate compared to their industry counterparts. With every dollar invested in design returning up to $100, it is vital to treat ‘Design’ as a core piece of your business.
UX design bridges the gap between user expectations and client services. When products are both usable & valuable, the result is a broader customer base and increased revenue.
Look at the way UX design can add to business success:
- Maintain brand loyalty
- Sustain comfort of existing customer base
- Understanding the audience’s needs
- Create a new customer base
- Supports SEO efforts
- Smooth workflows for employees
- Enhanced speed of functioning of the digital product/service
- Convert leads with excellent UX
- Efficacy & increased revenues
- Reduced costs
- Better reviews, more referrals
This flow just gets streamlined better with the presence of specific agencies who can take care of the UX design process for your business.
7 ways a UX design agency can add value to your business
UX design agencies make products & technologies usable and accessible. They bridge the gap between businesses, development teams, and users.
Embarking upon a design-driven journey with an expert UX Design agency as your co-passenger can help you reach your destination quickly and easily in the following ways:
1. User research & analysis
“Empathy is at the heart of design. Without understanding what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.”–Tim Brown, CEO of the innovation and design firm IDEO.
In today’s user-centric business environment, finding a holistic view of user expectations is essential, where design can make a difference rather than just ‘copy-pasting’ technical aspects from the final product. The ideal design approach goes further by gathering customer insights of potential users in their environments.
Only around 50 percent of the companies conducted user research before generating the first design ideas or specifications.– Mckinsey&Company
A good UI/UX Design Company always begins with an approach that blends the two forms of user research:
- Quantitative: such as conjoint analysis,
- Qualitative: such as ethnographic interviews
This is where having an experienced UX agency comprised of user researchers on the team will make a difference. They will help ensure that user research studies follow best practices and target appropriate user profiles.
On the contrary, skipping the user research phase will grow the chances of your product failure because the User Experience of the end product will not be optimized for the target end-users. Moreover, the discipline and concept of UX design are meant to prioritize the users.
2. Assessment & fresh perspective of digital products
Companies have invested 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 embark on a redesign project, finding out the gaps in the User Experience that the existing products are delivering is advisable.
A UX Design company can assess to help identify existing capabilities gaps. The insights gained can be utilized to build a redesign strategy. Performing a UX assessment requires knowledge of Usability Heuristics and techniques like Cognitive Walkthroughs and Pluralistic Walkthroughs, which only an experienced UX design agency will possess.
3. Usability testing of digital products
“Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology.”–Steve Krug.
Usability lies under the umbrella of the term ‘User Experience.’ It determines how easily a user can interact with your website or a product. Jackob Nielsen has suggested the following qualities of a usable product:
Usability testing suggested a minor tweak in the design of Apple’s Mac UI. And the company got 90% fewer support calls.
Being such an important phase of the UX Design process, many organizations still do not find it relevant to invest in usability testing. The reasons vary from “no budget” to “no time.” This is why 70% of online businesses fail – because of bad usability.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos invested in Usability Design 100 times more than in marketing during the portal’s first year. According to Bezos, this strategy was the one that led to Amazon’s overwhelming success. – Forbes
Usability testing offers a direct assessment of the usability of a system. Thus, performing it correctly with the right UX design firm at the right time helps reduce the risk of building the wrong product, saving you tons of money, time, and other resources
4. A UX design agency can help you create rapid prototypes
“The ideal prototype should be of Goldilocks quality. If the quality is too low, people won’t believe the prototype is a real product. If the quality is too high, you’ll be working all night, and you won’t finish. You need Goldilocks quality. Not too high, not too low, but just right.”–Daniel Burka, Google Ventures design partner
Design flourishes best in environments encouraging learning, testing, and iterating with users. 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. Still, most organizations fail to use this valuable technique to their advantage efficiently.
An ideal rapid prototyping approach requires a design thinking mindset, the necessary tools, and the ability to work collaboratively with all the stakeholders (marketing, design, research, operations, development, and sales).
Pareto Principle (80% of the effects come from 20%of the causes) holds in the case of prototyping. Follow the approach of starting with breadth, then diving into depth. In other words, design all key user flows, but don’t focus too much on details. Or, consider taking the help of an experienced User Experience Design Agency for the same.
How Net Solutions helped an Ed Tech startup in its successful prototype journey
One of the leading Ed Tech startups wished to launch an app that would address some pertinent questions related to the education sector – aligning the suitable tutors for the student community and providing frictionless payment interaction between tutors and students.
Net Solutions helped design a mobile app prototype for both tutors & students to facilitate frictionless payments.
We built two interactive mobile app product prototypes for the tutor-student community – Teacher Application and Student Application – using visualization tools such as sketches, user flows, and wireframes. Here, we leveraged Product Prototype as a service and methodology to design the app, with our target profiles being the actual audience.
5. Build cross-functional teams
In a digital world that is quickly evolving, user-centric design is not meant to be a siloed function; rather, it should be everyone’s responsibility. Thus, overcoming isolationist tendencies is essential, and setting up agile, cross-functional teams that can quickly iterate on ideas is too.
One of the strongest correlations we uncovered linked top financial performers and companies that said they could break down functional silos and integrate designers with other functions. – Mckinsey&Company
For instance, requirements are researched and designed when the UX approach is integrated into the DevOps team. The solution is user-tested before the engineering team plans to build it.
However, it is not an easy step to build a cross-functional team without the help of a UX agency.
You will be surprised to know that out of all the organizations that claim to have cross-functional teams, 75% are dysfunctional. The study says that cross-functional teams fail because of the following reasons:
- Unable to meet a planned budget
- Unable to stay on schedule
- Unable to adhere to specifications
- Unable to deliver a seamless customer experience
- Unable to maintain alignment with the company’s corporate goals
Thus, a systematic approach that a UX Design agency brings to the table and a design-thinking mindset can help break the departmental silos and foster cross-functional collaboration based on a shared mission and ownership.
6. Identify relevant metrics
“If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”–Brene Brown, Ted Talk
A design process involves determining the factors that should be measured, how and what an organization can do with collected data, and setting up the data collection in advance. And if you cannot measure anything with your UX Design, remember your product does not exist.
A gut feeling might help your product succeed, but those chances increase with the application of data-driven UX Design. UX measurement includes three types of metrics:
- Perception metrics (e.g., NPA scores)
- Descriptive metrics (e.g., abandonment rates)
- Outcome metrics (e.g., conversion rates, average order sizes, number of calls by reason, how often customers escalate to the call center.)
Different departments, like IT, Marketing, and Customer Service, typically own these metrics. Google’s UX research team has developed a framework called Google HEART, which precisely measures the quality of experience delivered to your consumer. It is one of the good ways to measure the quality of User Experience to gain actionable insights.
Now you have a tool, Google HEART, in your kitty that can help evaluate your product’s design backed by large-scale data. How will you collect the data you require? A UX design firm will help uncover this large-scale data that can be fed into Google HEART.
7. Brings more innovation
“There’s a way to do it better – find it.”–Thomas Edison
Ideally, innovation happens at the crossroads of the following three factors:
- Business strategy (what the market at a specific context and moment in time deems viable)
- Design (what the potential customers desire)
- Technical constraints (what the limits of technology render feasible)
The following Venn diagram illustrates the said intersection:
The diagram suggests that the three elements must blend to build a successful innovation design. But this convergence does not happen by chance. Design is a driving force that aligns business strategy and customers’ needs with technology.
Thus, it becomes vital to partner with experience UX Design agencies applying Design Thinking principles and Human Centred Design to create memorable digital experiences. A survey by Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies states that when design principles are implemented in business strategy and innovation, the success rate of innovation improves drastically. Design-led companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, IBM, Nike, and Target have outperformed the S&P 500 over ten years by an extraordinary 228%.
Now, what to look for in a UX design firm before hiring? How can you ensure that a UX Design Agency will deliver value? There is no doubt that you will have to look out for certain things for hiring the best UX design agency.
5 things to check before hiring a UX design agency
Once you hire a UX design company to improve your product’s experience, it will not be easy just to hire one immediately. You will have to evaluate several companies in detail by taking a closer look at things, such as:
1. UX design process
A UX design agency must have a well-defined process if it is well-versed in creating great user experiences.
Before hiring, you should analyze what steps they include in the process. Find out how they conduct UX research, build wireframes, and handle design basics on what grounds. Your main motive should be to find the answers to the following questions:
- What is the importance of each step they follow?
- What will be the outcome of each stage?
You will learn how they will handle your project by analyzing and knowing about their process. Here is what an ideal UX design process should look like:
2. The flexibility of the UX design process
The logic is that your UX design partners should be flexible enough to accommodate your time and budget constraints.
So, stay cautious of the agencies that are too rigid regarding processes. Your UX design firm should believe in finding a way, not in staying rigid or complex. Also, if an agency holds expertise, it won’t deny or say no to challenges.
3. The portfolio
Before you think about hiring a UX agency, it’s always a smart idea to glance through their past works first. Study their past projects vary carefully and find answers to the following questions:
- What value did they add to their past projects?
- How much experience do they have?
- What was the budget of their past clients?
Another thing that you should observe is how they handle projects. Are their past works following the same design process, or is each project’s approach different? An organization that adopts a new approach to each project implies that more ideas have been placed into their work. These organizations will be more reliable in determining the design approach best suits your product.
4. Knowledge beyond UX design
UX designing is a critical stage of the product launch. But, there are other stages as well, and the entire process of building a product should sync well.
An experienced UX design firm will know all these stages and issues arising during the process. This way, they can advise you on different parts, such as UI development, maintenance of products, and more.
Their knowledge beyond UX design will help you choose the right solution from the start of the project.
As a result, you will be able to avoid situations where the product looks terrific but lacks functionality, so it needs to be re-developed and re-designed. A UX agency with experience and expertise beyond UX design will help you save time and money.
5. Project management skills
A UX agency’s Project Management Skills decide how well they can handle your project. The UX firm you hire must be specific and strict regarding timelines.
In digital product development, don’t forget that time is money. Therefore, ask yourself the following questions and then make an informed decision:
- Do you think they will deliver the design as per the schedule?
- What does the agency need from you?
- Which project management tools do they use?
Also, don’t hesitate to ask for references. Talk to the previous clients to analyze the efficiency, communication, and updating frequency of the agency.
Finding out in advance how the UX agency will perform is a bit tough, but it can be done if you analyze the things mentioned above beforehand. Remember, a UX agency can make or break your product’s experience. So be careful while hiring the one.
Achieving an ideal UX design helps in building optimized solutions for your potential users, ultimately providing business value for your organization. Unfortunately, few businesses understand the potential of implementing UX tactics in their product development strategy. Selecting the right UX Design partner is a vital step in the overall digital strategy process for any business to thrive and disrupt the market.
Frequently Asked Questions
How is UI/UX design different from web design?
The difference would be in a ‘structure’ and an ‘interaction.’ Web design revolves around building the website, and UX design emphasizes the experience of using a site or app. The latter talks of making the visitors comfortable by lending functionality, comfort, and usefulness to the experience.
How do you measure business value in UX design?
McKinsey measured the value of UX in design for over 300 companies and found that “the best design performers increase their revenues and shareholder returns at twice the rate of their industry counterparts.” They proposed these four aspects to evaluate the business value of design: analytical leadership, user experience, cross-functional talent, and continuous iteration.
What is the scope of projects UX Designers work on?
UX designers work to ensure a smooth online experience for users. Every online journey users undertake is designed by UX professionals – whether ecommerce websites or apps. A product’s development, right to the branding & marketing strategy, becomes the responsibility of the UX professional.
How is UI design different from UX design?
The basis of difference lies in the essence of “experience” vs. “interface.” UX extends to providing a seamless experience to customers for both physical and digital products. UX design aims to create effective, functional, usable products to address a customer’s pain points. UI design revolves around the interface – the typography, visuals, buttons, etc. This has to do about aesthetics.
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