Good UX in product development is accessible to all types of users in as many use cases as possible. Product teams work hard to map, build, and test quality digital experiences.
But a digital product can’t be everything to everyone.
By putting equal emphasis into solving for every use case and every problem, teams risk stretching themselves too thin and arriving at a solution that works well for no one.
So how should teams decide which problems to solve or what features to prioritize?
The answer is a UX Strategy.
What is UX Strategy?
A UX strategy is the plan and approach for a digital product.
UX strategies help businesses translate their intended user experience to every touchpoint where people interact with or experience its products or services. A solid UX strategy ensures that the business vision, user needs, and technical capabilities are aligned and helps to prioritize a team’s attention and resources by keeping them focused on solving the right problems for target users.
How to Create a UX Strategy
There are a number of methods product teams can use to create a UX strategy. At the core, it involves researching, planning, testing and validating ideas before the implementation of design or development begins.
Some common approaches include:
- What is the scope of the project?
- What is the company’s mission?
- What are the goals and objectives of this product?
- What is the budget?
- What defines success for this project?
- What success can the user experience deliver?
- Who are the target users?
- What devices are they using?
- What problems do they need solved and how are they currently solving them?
- Why they are or aren’t using the product? (for existing products)
Competitive Research and Analysis
- What is the competition doing?
- Is there an opportunity to create a unique value proposition?
Often, a UX Strategy can take the form of a document containing the information learned during the discovery phase: This document can be used to guide the product team and keep everyone working towards the same goal.
Why a UX Strategy is Essential to Good Business
Businesses with strict timelines and budgets must deal with the reality that product development is neither fast nor cheap.
Product owners with previous exposure to outdated methods of integrating design in software development might mistakenly assume that involving designers is a surefire way to spend more than they want.
But this isn’t actually the case.
Coming up with a UX Strategy at the outset of a project can help make sure digital product teams don’t waste time, money, and energy developing products or features they aren’t sure people will want or use.
Here are some of the main ways developing a UX Strategy can give businesses a leg up on their competition:
3 Ways a UX Strategy Helps Beat the Competition
Assumptions are Validated
New products are almost always working under conditions of uncertainty. Product owners might not yet know exactly who their target users are or exactly what problems the software needs to solve for them.
Through the process of researching and talking with potential users, businesses can discover if the product and features they intend to develop are actually necessary. Potential users are able to provide valuable insight into how their problems are (or are not) currently being solved — which can then help businesses gauge if their proposed solutions will have a competitive advantage.
People are creatures of habit. If new digital products want to succeed, their value proposition must be enough to entice people to switch to a new product.
Many apps and websites fail because they attempt to solve problems that real people don’t actually have or already have a good solution for. UX Strategists can’t be afraid to challenge clients or stakeholders about their understanding of the target users and competitors, especially if the research contradicts their assumptions.
Meanwhile, product owners and business leaders who want to succeed must be open to feedback that challenges their ideas. Innovation happens through conversations — not one-way channels. Plus, this compels them to back up their decisions and justify their intentions with concrete data.
Takeaway: Rather than defining a UX Strategy around assumptions, let factual user data pave the way.
Risks are Minimized
Every idea is an assumption until validated. Assumptions equal risks.
A UX Strategy can help businesses eliminate risk by spending time up front to research, plan, test, and validate ideas. When conversations with users invalidate early assumptions, businesses must pivot and can easily do so with minimal impact to the overall time and budget of a project.
As Jaime Levy stated in her book, UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want:
You don’t want a North Star to guide your UX Strategy; instead, you want a goal or point towards which to steer every time you pivot.
Takeaway: Businesses can minimize risk by identifying user needs at the outset of a project. Involving design in your software development strategy isn’t about aesthetics so much as it is keeping the user at the forefront of your value delivery. After all, it’s the user who will determine whether your product is a success.
Features are Prioritized
Without a UX Strategy, product owners may have difficulty prioritizing which problems to solve.
It is easy to go down the rabbit hole of trying to solve for every use case and every problem, but that is not practical or effective. Budgets and time constraints may demand that the most important problems are addressed first.
This is especially true for a MVP, or a Minimum Viable Product. An MVP is the first complete version of a product, but has a limited feature set. The end-result is the leanest first version of the app that satisfies client needs while offering users value.
MVPs are critical to businesses that must get their products to market as soon as possible. Having a solid UX Strategy to keep the product team focused and aligned is essential to delivering the best first version of a product.
Takeaway: A UX Strategy will help to prioritize the most important problems.
Regain Definition and Sanity With a UX Strategy
Great digital products focus on resolving specific needs for as many kinds people who experience those needs. It doesn’t mean building something that can be everything to everyone.
UX engagements — no matter the budget — entail complicated processes and require extensive research, creative iteration, and testing. By talking with stakeholders, users, and analyzing the competitive space, product teams can provide crucial boundaries to what could be potentially endless problem-solving and iteration.