In a recent article in iRise Velocity, I discussed the role of Design in Business and in IT Leadership. I stressed the importance of designers expanding their perspective beyond good design principles and the end user. Designers and those in UX leadership roles must also be familiar with business principles, the enterprise’s strategy, and with the basics of development—even if the designer is neither an MBA nor a software developer.
UX leaders need to help designers understand how their work impacts the bottom line. A few years ago, I stumbled upon the business impact my work was having, when I learned that a redesigned product suite had seen conversions go up by 300%. I just happened to be in the room when the product manager was discussing the year-over-year results.
ROI of UX: A redesigned product suite had seen conversions go up by 300%
Since then, I take a pointed interest in finding the right metrics to measure our business impact. As a UX leader, I always ask myself how designers can keep their eye on the financial impact and success of the apps they work on. Here is an example:
If you redesign four different standalone products, where users have to go to separate websites and use different login credentials that have no task integration so that they function as a single product suite, you will be able to measure some results. You raise conversions 15% in the first year, 45% the next year, and it’s sustained; that represents a lot of money in terms of product sales. As a designer, you generally don’t get exposed to that information—you have to ask the right questions, and those questions are not about design, but about the business, the product sales and revenue.
The burden to identify the UX business value falls on design leaders
The burden to connect these data points is on you, the designers, and the design leadership, whether that’s a manager, director or VP. You can’t expect the rest of the business to hand the answers to you if you don’t ask.
It is also important for designers to make a point of understanding which bottom-line metrics matter most for their business, what are the pain points for their stakeholders and what keeps them up at night.
As design leaders we need to clearly communicate the business value
I was working with a large education organization, and they were talking about a measure I had to look up, TTM, meaning “trailing twelve months.” Acquisitions and divestitures are tracked in this manner; it’s a measure of the company’s financial health. A product release could contribute to the TTM measure, and my design work could have an impact. So if the CIO cares about TTM, it’s my burden to address his concern and consider how design can have a positive business impact. If that’s what he values, everything else I talk about is just noise. As a design leader, I have to know how to get signal through the noise.
This article complements a three-part series on Enterprise UX & Design Thinking with iRise Velocity. In the first two, I discussed What CIOs Need from their Designers and How your Business gets Real about Design. Stay tuned for the third article, where I discuss the UX Talent every CIO should chase.
Published also in LinkedIn