Design deals with the qualitative elements of the experiences but must communicate its impact in quantitative terms that impacts the business.
“Increase online sales by 20% this year.”
“Increase newsletter subscribers by 5% in last quarter.”
The above statements are the business leadership team’s common objectives to grow their organization. These statements are typically the business goals/ outcomes that leaders set for their teams. These are very critical & strategic for top management and for any organization to thrive.
As a UX team, we understand how a mature UX approach leads to increased business/sales and is closely related. But does that mean that these goals should be the end design team goals? It’s a great achievement to have a UX leadership team playing a significant role in business output or sales retention.
Designers usually take the easiest path to attain a goal. Often, the easiest way to achieve a business outcome is to focus on the direct levers of that outcome.
As Aurora Harley summed up in her article:
“Designers have often been told to focus on outcomes, not features so that they solve the right problem instead of building the wrong thing. While this rule has been accepted and practiced within UX design and product planning, it is too often forgotten when it comes to digital analytics. Just as building a feature to address the wrong problem will surely fail, tracking the wrong metric will prove meaningless.”
Want more people to sign up? Improve your landing page.
Want more subscribers to renew? Improve the reminders you send out.
While these may be good things to do, they miss the user’s actual goals. Business outcomes are the easy path to achieving a business goal. However, they don’t necessarily end up with better user experience goals.
UX Outcomes are different from Business Outcomes
There is a big difference between business outcomes and UX outcomes. Business outcomes don’t consider improving the user experience or helping the user with the best of knowledge.
To get to a UX outcome, the design leader answers this question: If we do a fantastic job delivering this product (or service or feature), how will we improve someone’s life?
UX Outcomes are the results of the output. An output is a product or service that you create; an outcome is a problem that you solve with that product. The distinction between outcome and output is related to the classic difference between feature and benefit: a feature is something a product or service offers, whereas a benefit is what customers want. As a UX team, we are improving user experience and bringing the organization close to business outcomes.
For example, the design leaders concerned about subscriptions might ask this question: If we do a fantastic job getting users to subscribe to our newsletter, how will we improve those users’ lives? Asking about subscriptions this way pushes those leaders beyond the act of just completing the transaction. It focuses them on completing the transaction, yet doing so makes a positive difference for their customers.
The best UX outcomes are measurable
Firms with lower UX awareness or limited availability of analytics often focus their attention on metrics gleaned within or between research exercises (such as time to task completion or benchmark ratings). Typically, this involves analytics, but any step a customer can take that leaves behind evidence of that step. Measurable steps give insight as to where customers are in their journey and how they can optimize them.
Let’s take an example for an ed-tech company, whose business goal is to increase their annual subscription by 20% — This would be their business outcome.
To achieve the business outcome, the UX team will drive research to look for a UX outcome. They might ask this question:
“If we do a fantastic job getting courses subscription increase by 20%, how will we improve those subscribers’ lives?” Asking about subscriptions this way pushes those leaders beyond the act of just completing the transaction. It focuses them on completing the trade to make a positive difference for their subscribers or customers.
UX Outcomes are human-centered. We are going to make users’ experiences better. They came out best when created collaboratively.
UX Outcomes are best created with massive researches. It’s less about showing the value of doing that research and more about the cost of not doing it. It tells us how big the obstacle is and how much it costs the organization every year if the UX problem is not addressed. Fixing that problem is a one-time expense that saves them millions of dollars.
Here, the UX Outcomes would be more holistic and user-centric, and when users are happy & satisfied, it keeps them engaged and hooked to the product.
Bridging the Gap
Leaders think in high-level terms — appropriate to their level in the organization. Let’s call those “Impacts.” Executors believe much more precise terms, reflecting their results from where they sit in the organization.
In other words, leaders think about impacts, and execution teams tend to think about resources, activities, and outputs.
Let’s take the above example of an Ed-tech company. The impact that leaders want in this case would be increased 20% in the subscription of courses.
UX Outcome for this would be how to bring this revenue increase by positively impacting the lives of the subscriber user. In this case, the users will be concerned about their job placement after the course or job assurance and guidance to get the right path for their requirements. This would be the experience users want to deliver (UX Outcome) to achieve the business outcomes.
The design team will now keep this in mind, think about the resources, activities, and outputs to implement, and get the UX outcome to achieve the UX outcomes. One of those could be offering career counseling or guided course curriculum paths to all the users who register or sign-up on the website or product to recommend to achieve the UX outcomes for the best course of action and make the subscription quick and easy.
When teams are working with well-defined outcomes, tracking progress becomes more straightforward — leaders and teams can review their progress towards the results they’re seeking and look at a concrete measure: are people’s behaviors changing? In our case, the design team can review if the users benefit from free counseling or a guide to choosing the right course.
UX Outcomes need to support both user goals and business goals. User goals could range from time saved, increased convenience, the proper knowledge to feeling delighted. Business goals can involve metrics such as increased subscription and conversion. Aim for solutions that serve dual purposes.
Ensuring Valuable Outcomes
Since now, we understand that UX Outcomes are the building blocks or foundation for any mature UX Strategy. Well-chosen UX outcomes get the entire team focused on the same goal, heading in the same direction. That’s the key to delivering great experiences in our products and services.
To define the right UX Outcomes for an organization, we need the right tools, skills, and mindsets for a transformational change to take UX Maturity to the next level.
Working in close collaboration with core team members from Product Management and Engineering, User Experience should play a vital role in the early stages of a product development project, adding value through generative user research, envisioning, ideation, requirements definition, and strategy. All of these contribute to the purpose of a successful experience outcome. And to strategize, manage and measure the above teams and activities under one platform and bring them all together working towards a common goal.
Ease of making UX Outcomes visible, de-cluttering the design and finding deeper perspectives, speaking the same language, and ensuring all working together towards a common goal.
Explore more about delivering valuable outcomes through Cubyts.