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Strategic UX: What Is It And Why Is It So Important?

User experience (UX) needs to be strategic to help grow your business. Here, we'll break down the components of strategic UX design, starting from what it is to why it's so important.
Woman drawing a wireframe by Kelly Sikkema

Strategic UX: What Is It And Why Is It So Important? 

UX design is often the focus of a company’s attention — which makes sense. You need an excellent user experience if you want people to actually want to use your product. While UX design is important, it should be seen as just one part of a set of UX design strategies.

With strategic UX, user experience design marries your business goals. Having an awesome UX is great, but it might not do much for your business if it isn’t built with your goals in mind. That means before you start your designers on a project, you need to develop user experience strategies to guide them in the right direction.

Below, we’ll explain everything you need to know about strategic UX — including what a UX strategy is and its four key tenets.

What is UX Strategy?

UX strategy is where your business goals meet UX design. It’s a plan that outlines how UX design is going to be used to help the project meet the objectives of the business. White it’s not a roadmap for how to make the right UX design for the project, it does serve as a document that is intended to guide designers and others on the team as it concerns the goals of the project and how UX design is going to contribute to meeting those goals.

As a point, it shouldn’t be too long or too complex. It needs to be short enough for a person to read through in just a few minutes, and it shouldn’t contain technical jargon that may not be understood by everyone working on the project. You want it to be a resource that is accessible to everyone.

Developing a UX Strategy

As mentioned above, strategic UX isn’t going to be a point-by-point description of what the desired UX should be; it’s a plan that is there to guide the decisions that will be made through the process of designing the UX.

Instead of telling the designers how you want them to build the UX, it will tell them the goals you want the UX to achieve. It won’t list features or functions. The idea is to create a shared vision of the project to guide the designers. It’s more about describing ideas than giving orders.

The Four Tenets of Strategic UX

Different people have different ideas about UX strategies. With that said, user experience strategist Jaime Levy provides some of the best advice with her four tenets of UX strategy: business strategy, value innovation, validate user research, and killer UX design. For many in the field, they are the foundation of strategic UX. 

1. Business Strategy 

Business strategy might seem like it’s far from UX design, but it should play a vital role in your UX strategy. What is the competitive advantage of your business? What are your objectives? How will your business make money? Your business is building an app or another piece of software to serve some sort of goal. What is that goal, and how can the UX help you get there?

Designers need to understand things like the value proposition of the product or the ways in which the business plans to generate revenue. They need to know what the business wants users to think of the product or the business. These points can all be important for guiding the decisions of UX designers.

2. Value Innovation

The idea behind any product is to offer value to users. It’s the value that makes them willing to give a business their time and money for the product. Ideally, you’re looking to go beyond offering a product that is valued by consumers – you want to create one that consumers find indispensable.

With value innovation, you’re working on a cycle of development that continues innovation with the goal of differentiation and lower costs. This works through the alignment of utility, newness, and lowering costs. When all three align, you can create a leap in value for both the consumer and the company.

3. Validate User Research 

The user still needs to be at the center of UX design. Before you can pour resources into building a product or release something to the public, you need to know your ideas work. That means you have to do user research and take the lessons from that research to build a better product or pivot.

You have your hypotheses and ideas about how you think the project should work – now you need to take the time to test them. You can run focus groups to see what potential users think of your ideas. When you have a prototype, you can pay for user testing to see how the product performs in the hands of real users. With every stage of testing, you should be learning and making adjustments.

4. Killer UX

The first three tenets all lead to the fourth tenet. By this point, you know how the user experience fits in with the business strategy, the value you are going to offer users, and you have tested your assumptions. With that knowledge in hand, it’s time to build a UX that meets the needs of the strategy. 

Building a good UX means offering a seamless experience that helps users reach their goals with little friction. You want to offer an experience that not only offers value, but one that keeps users wanting to come back to use it again. Consider every aspect of the user experience and keep the goals of the UX strategy in mind through every step of the process.

Strategic UX: The Last Word

Strategic UX is about more than creating an experience that users will enjoy. A good user experience is part of it, but it isn’t the only goal of the project. With the four tenets of UX design strategies, you can deliver a product that not only lives up to the expectations of the user, but you can build something that satisfies users while also helping the business achieve its goals.

September 21, 2021user experience, design