Getting buy-in for your development project can be extremely challenging, especially if that means having to hire a team of developers. However, the key to getting your project off the ground lies in defining what value means to your organisation. The budget holders will want to see a return on investment, however, this can be defined differently for different organisations. Sometimes value will be looked at from an operational perspective; business leaders will want to know whether your project will be delivered on time and to budget. At other times, value will be seen as purely the financial benefit of your project. However, both of these viewpoints can be problematic. They focus on the value to the business rather than the value to the end-user and can result in you developing the wrong solution. If that happens, operational and financial benefits are unlikely to be realised.
To improve the outcomes of your development project and, therefore, the return on investment, business value and user value need to align. In other words, when you deliver value to your end users, your business will see the benefit. To do this, you need to put the user experience first and that is where user experience (UX) developers come into their own.
What is User Experience?
When it comes to any product or service, usability is fundamental. In fact, it’s often equally if not more important to users than price and product quality. The user experience describes how the user interacts with a product or service and how they feel about it, including how easy to use and efficient it is. In turn, user experience design focuses on creating products and solutions that are easy to use and understand, with increased satisfaction directly relating to measurable business benefits.
When UX is done right, the user interface is seamless and intuitive; in fact, it’s almost imperceptible. This means that users can focus on the experience and enjoying the product rather than working out how to use it. Unrequired features are stripped back to ensure that the key purpose can shine through and users can easily achieve their goals. However, more than that, UX design aims to delight users and to make the experience enjoyable as well as efficient.
How Business Value is Rooted in User Behaviour
The first step to redefining the way your business evaluates value is by looking at user behaviour. The end user of your process, product or system is the person it has been designed and created for, after all. The aim from the business’s perspective is to get that user to behave in a certain way. This behaviour might be visiting a website and purchasing a product or completing certain tasks efficiently using a workplace optimisation tool. It’s easy to relate these actions with business value, which goes to show that value is directly correlated to user behaviour.
At the beginning of a development project, it’s vital to understand how product stakeholders want user behaviour to change. It might be as simple as having lower bounce rates on a website, greater conversions on a mobile application or a greater update of a communication tool. By highlighting this and creating a goal, you are much better placed to truly measure success. You should always ask yourself and your team what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll know if the solution is working. Any business can create an app, system or tool, but its mere existence doesn’t create value. It’s the action taken by users that is key.
Once you’ve identified the behaviour you’d like to change and how you’ll measure it, you can build a value model that links the behaviour to financial impacts. This enables your business to measure user behaviour as an input that can produce a measurable financial output. With a consistent benefit calculator, you can assess the return on investment of the current project and future ones.
The Vital Role of UX Developers
UX developers are there to make products usable, enjoyable and accessible for their users. While they work as part of a wider development team, they often bridge the gap between the user, the developers and the business. UX developers should be involved through the whole development process; they are able to think from multiple perspectives and can get inside the head of your user to help anticipate their needs. A UX developer will know how to identify the drivers behind the user behaviours that you’re trying to change by identifying and easing pain points in the user experience. Of course, a big part of this lies in thorough user research, analysis and testing.
With a UX developer on board, you can ideate solutions to the root causes of problems for your users. This means that your solution will be developed especially with them in mind rather than focusing on what the business would like to achieve. Moreover, your UX developer will be able to do this while understanding the technical constraints of your solution. The result is a product that is easier, faster and more intuitive and, therefore, much better placed to deliver business value.
Can Your Business Afford UX Developers?
If you’re creating a digital solution, be it an app or piece of software, you can’t afford not to have UX developers on board. With a customer-centred approach to development, you can identify true pain points and frustrations and ensure you create the right solution for your users. However, just because you’re putting the user first doesn’t mean that you’re putting the business second. User experience and business value are intrinsically linked, which means there is always a strong business case for UX developers.