I’ve heard from multiple UX leaders in my network about situations where they have presented exciting and exceptional project designs with brilliant UX to stakeholders but could not get sign off. Some even suggested that it takes a business project to fail before a stakeholder would take UX seriously enough to fund and implement it. This process sounds frustrating. Having to fail fast just to showcase the importance of UX can waste a lot of valuable time, resources and money, but there are steps that UX Leaders can take to improve their chances of gaining buy-in from key stakeholders, in addition to persistence of course.
Your stakeholders are probably not UX experts, and therefore the structure and design of their products is probably much lower on their priority list than cost-cutting and maximising profits. They are unlikely to understand the impact of UX on those profits and savings, and as a UX specialist, it’s your job to explain this in order to bridge that gap between users and stakeholders.
Conduct and record user interviews and use this data during your presentation to support the choices you have made in your design. Stakeholders are more likely to buy into an idea if they understand the impact on how and if a user interacts with their product. Another way to generate valuable data is through live A/B testing. If you’re able to implement a short A/B testing period with real users, you can collate the data and then show stakeholders the actual conversion rates for different design ideas which is real-time way to concisely prove business value.
However, User Research can still be overlooked by some stakeholders, depending on the type of business you work in. Some businesses won’t value user experience and instead, you’ll need to talk about UX from a heavily revenue-focused perspective, by directly linking designs and features to specific revenue generation.
How many times have you heard “what business value does this design bring?” or “What’s the ROI on this?” Business leaders and stakeholders want to know how the design will benefit the business. Odds are, you’ve heard it a lot, especially when talking to senior stakeholders or business owners, because the survival of their business, at the most basic level, comes down to profitability. Therefore, it’s important to make realistic and tangible links between UX and profits.
Talk about things fiscally using tangible numbers, targets, and predictions that your stakeholders really understand such as improving conversion rates, reducing bounce rate, adding new call to actions to boost sales or downloads, or increasing overall traffic to generate potential new leads. These have the potential to directly impact revenue and profitability and are the figures that will likely gain the sign off you need. Make them accurate and be ready to explain how you calculated or estimated figures. Then, utilise these specific figures to demonstrate the link between great UX and revenue.
Looking at your competitors’ website, product, or platform is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. Likelihood is that if something has been on their site or platform for a while, it’s because it is working. Whilst their visuals and branding might be different, this doesn’t stop you using their ideas as a starting point to guide your own decisions. Also, look at what non-competitors are doing, for example, those who are not direct competitors but who have a similar platform type to what you need. This is a really easy and cost-effective way to conduct market research and to implement features that are proven to work.
By considering what other people in your market are doing and by analysing what’s working for them, this will help inspire your own choices, guide your own decision-making process with less trial and error, and may save you time and money overall.
SEO is the buzzword on everyone’s lips, and stakeholder love to hear about it. After all, who wouldn’t want their site or platform to be ranked highly by Google! Clearly showcase the consideration that has gone into your design and highlight all the aspects which will help boost your SEO ranking, making you more findable and increasing your traffic and potential leads. Explain how great SEO can increase traffic, and increase leads overall, whilst outperforming paid advertising in the majority of cases.
Persistence is always important, but to stakeholders they really need to understand the financial implications of your design and how it directly impacts the business in terms of targets, goals, revenue, and profits. Using specific data collected from User Research and demonstrating how your design meets that user feedback whilst aligning to business goals using percentages and figures is really helpful. You need to speak in a language that stakeholders understand. That means minimise the over-technical jargon, use statistics, and always link everything back to the business and profitability. This is what your stakeholders want to know.
These are just a few tips on how to gain buy-in from your stakeholders.
What are your top tricks for gaining stakeholder buy in for UX? Let me know in the comments or drop me a direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org.