Book Review: UX Strategy by Jaime Levy

UX Strategy by Jaime Levy

UX Strategy: What the heck is it and should you care?

These are the first things you should ask yourself before even thinking about buying this book. For many of you (particularly the old time UXers – you know who you are 😉) you have already been doing UX Strategy for most of your career and simply classing it as part of your work as a UX Professional. It’s all the stuff we do that’s more focussed on the business side. Things like discovery research to explore current user behaviour and needs, competitor analysis, user journey mapping, personas, crafting value propositions, testing them, storyboarding, creating early designs/prototypes and testing them iteratively. Jaime references Eric Reiss’ book ‘The lean startup’ several times throughout her book and the approach detailed in her book is very much in line with lean UX and building MVPs.

In fact, one could argue whether UX Strategy is just another term that’s been created for something that already exists. However, as the definition of UX changes and moves closer to a design discipline, we need a means of people recognising strategy as a key skill. Ironically, as the UX discipline has exploded, key skills like strategy which would ordinarily be part of an experience designers role, are much harder to find. So if UX Strategy needs to be split out into another pillar of UX to increase awareness and skills, then so be it.

So, how does Jaime define UX Strategy?

UX strategy is the process that should be started first, before the design or development of a digital product begins. It’s the vision of a solution that needs to be validated with real potential customers to prove that it’s desired in the marketplace. Although UX design encompasses numerous details such as visual design, content messaging, and how easy it is for a user to accomplish a task, UX strategy is the “Big Picture”. It is the high-level plan to achieve one or more business goals under conditions of uncertainty.

What is UX Strategy

In our opinion, a good UX Designer thinks about strategy as a natural part of their role – it’s what differentiates a UX Designer from a visual designer or a content designer. The UX Designer should always start with the bigger picture before any design takes place. Perhaps Jaime’s limited definition of UX Design is why she felt the need to write a book about UX Strategy – to increase awareness of these important UX skills.

Contents

  • What Is UX Strategy?
  • The Four Tenets of UX Strategy
  • Validating the Value Proposition
  • Conducting Competitive Research
  • Conducting Competitive Analysis
  • Storyboarding Value Innovation
  • Creating Prototypes for Experiments
  • Conducting Guerrilla User Research
  • Designing for Conversion
  • Strategists in the Wild
  • DĂ©nouement

UX Strategy Page Sample

Pros

This is a really interesting read and packed full of useful information and explanations. Jamie uses real examples as much as possible throughout the book and includes templates that you can download through her website too, which is really helpful for you to practise some of the tools in the book.

The book itself is really easy to read, detailed and practical – she breaks everything down into steps to follow. It also includes a lot of visual screenshots so you can really follow the key example she uses throughout the book (an Airbnb for weddings business) and practise the techniques for yourself. This is not a book full of waffle and theory!

You’ll come away with an understanding of the UX process for creating products, and will be able to use the tools to get started on the Strategy process.

Cons

We disagreed with several things within her book and at times too much was left open to interpretation. For example, with regards to user recruitment, she quickly references Nielsen’s 5 user recommendation, but most UX professionals now agree that this figure shouldn’t be used as a one and only rule. The reality is, it’s more complex and careful thought needs to be given to how many users are seen. If you are doing lots of quick iterations you could in theory go lower, or if you have lots of variables and are planning less iterative testing, you may need to go higher.

Jaime also advises guerrilla research in coffee shops, but her recruitment method takes 5-10 days to book people in which goes against many of the benefits of quick coffee shop research. This is a bit confusing – she may as well use a lab. There’s no mention of the hugely positive effects of multiple stakeholders observing the research (this can be a key part of UX Strategy). Her coffee shop approach enables just one client observer to be present, not to mention that the recordings can be incredibly poor (the audio in particular, due to all the background noise). If research is important to you, you will benefit from reading a more detailed book.

At the end of the book there are no references.

The graphics and illustrations look dated and aren’t particularly engaging.

Should you buy it?

If you’re new to UX, lack understanding of how UX fits into business or you want a high level overview of the whole process then this book will be useful for you to read. It would also be useful for anyone building digital products, such as business owners, entrepreneurs and product managers.

Note: All our reviews are independent, not sponsored and based only on our opinion

12 reasons to invest in UX

Knowing your users and designing for them have a lot of benefits on your brand image, the engagement of your users and last but not least on your revenue as well as on the engagement of customers with the product.

1. Increase sales and market share (conversion)

The crucial reason for all businesses to invest in their UX is the value of the return. Successful companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple all invest in their customer experience and the evidence is in their huge success. To give you an idea, every £1 you spend on UX returns on average £100. Importantly, it’s also an investment that keeps paying for itself in the longer term, unlike acquisition costs.

The evidence:

From 1993 to 2004, the UK Design Council tracked share prices. They found that design-aware companies out-performed other companies by more than 200%.

ux_share-prices

Case Study: Netflights

One of our travel clients, Netflights, invested in the UX of their website. Over the space of a year, all of their KPIs increased significantly. This included their revenue increasing by an impressive 26%, and their customer satisfaction rate rising to 95%.

2. Decrease bounce rates

People bounce from your site for many reasons – do you know these reasons? Are you just guessing? During the UX design process, as many of those reasons as possible are identified and designed out, keeping people on the site, taking them further down the funnel.

3. Avoid project failure and costly redesign

Investing in a user centred design process is the most effective thing you can do to lessen your risk of project failure and redesign costs. If you include user testing throughout your design process, you can rest assured of validation in the design. This will result in 25% less rework and bug fixes post-launch. Why risk leaving that user validation to launch and having your project sink like a led balloon. Test sooner rather than later!

ux-project-failure

4. Increase business intelligence and ease decision making

If you understand your customers opinions and needs, you and everyone else in the business will be able to make better business decisions that are fully in line with your customers needs. The more user research you do, the more aligned you’ll be with your customers thinking.

Business intelligence

5. Decrease your acquisition costs (advertising spend)

A good user experience is the best advertisement your business can have. “If a lot of people use that website then it means that it’s good”, we hear this hundreds of times during research. Nothing is as strong as a user that has had a good experience, suggesting to other users to use your brand. Social proof is a crucial factor for your business to be successful. And best of all, it’s FREE!
When your bounce rate decreases and you have more people coming to your site based on great customer reviews and a whole host of other positive side effects from your improved UX, you’ll spend less on your marketing channels but you’ll be converting more. This also has a longer term impact.

Decrease advertising costs

6. Increase basket size

Have you noticed how you spend more time on sites that you enjoy using? You buy more from them too. Through focussing on your customers and improving the design of your site, you’ll notice an increase in your average basket value. Focus on improving cross sells and up sells as part of your strategy to further increase basket size.

7. Better reviews

Online reviews are read by everyone, they’re the word of mouth of the internet and they are trusted because they come from ‘people like me’. Of course offline reviews and word of mouth still exist, but online is where people have the most reach. Upset one person and thousands of people can read their review and decide not to buy from you. Through an increased understanding of customers needs and improving the website accordingly, we create a better experience that leads to better reviews.

Better reviews

8. Improve customer satisfaction and NPS score

A satisfying customer experience is related to positive emotions due to the fulfilment of fundamental psychological human needs: self-esteem, autonomy, competence and relatedness (Self-determination Theory, Deci & Ryan). Moreover, the feeling of satisfaction gathered during a positive user experience, will create an emotional and affective bond between users and your brand, as well as a sense of engagement and motivation to use your product further in the future (for more about how to engage with your customers emotions, take a look at ‘How do you feel? Understanding emotions to craft satisfying experiences’).

Customer satisfaction

9. Decrease customer service and support costs

If your users can find the information they need on your site, they’ll be more happy and won’t need to contact your customer service staff for further help. We all know how frustrating it is when you can’t find something on a website and have to phone up a call centre, most likely waiting on hold for ages just to get a simple answer. We’ll tell you a secret, most people won’t do this. They’ll simply press the back button and go to your competitor. The problem is that you have no idea why this has happened, unless you do regular user testing.

Support costs

10. Make your site / product reach it’s full potential

Apple didn’t invent the smartphone (we know because we part of the design team of the first Ericsson smartphone), and Facebook wasn’t the first social network, but what made those products so successful? The usability and good user experience were instrumental for their exponential growth and it can be the same for your business!

Ericsson R380

11. Increased customer retention

If a person enjoys using your website or product (if they have a good experience) they will come back in the future again and again… We hope you’re starting to understand that UX is not just a one off benefit. It keeps paying for itself over and over again.

Increase customer retention

12. Motivate your team

When your team can see the value of what they are building, so will your users.

Team motivation

Need help or advice?

If you’re curious about any of the above and how ux can help you to create a more successful product, contact our experts for free, friendly, no-ties advice.

Other posts you may find interesting:

What is User Testing?
5 user tests every Product Manager should commission
5 reasons to continuously conduct user research