Improving Business Acumen For Designers

The future of the business landscape evolves around technology and its advancements. With rapid changes in the field, businesses have become increasingly dynamic, contextual and personalized. Their design and branding are being altered to reflect the changes taking place. More and more companies are aligning their brand strategy with customer experience to determine services and products to launch and tune the way they will work and interact to the finest detail.

UX and the Business Environment

Today there is a huge debate on the quality of UX education and the level of preparation of UX professionals for real life design quests. However, we all know that the problems the UX sector is facing right now are the result of its rapid popularity and the speed at which the business-technology canvas is changing today.

Having human emotions at heart and striving to create positive user outcomes, UX design at its core is all about creating valuable human-technology relationships. Today it represents a complex combination of user research, insights, business strategy, branding and creative problem-solving. Unlike what we have been accustomed to so far, there is an increased requirement for UX practitioners to embrace the business and design interplay in their works.

UX designers need to be able to articulate each business case they are designing for so as to be able to understand the language of business insights and fuse it with user needs to produce great experiences. Here comes the challenge: due to the broad understanding of UX, which is still confusing for many, the coupling of customer and business value in UX design is very often unbalanced.

For this reason, UX professionals often struggle to communicate the business perspective of their unique value proposition and business relevance of their design choices.

So, what can be done about it?

Emphasize the Business Context of Design

UX design exists at the junction of multiple disciplines. It serves as a facilitator between businesses and customers, bridging their interests through technology. This ability to serve is impossible without deep understanding of the strategic role of experience and specific business challenges it solves.

The role of UX designers is to learn as much as possible about the business context and objectives to be able to identify primary problems and ways to respond to them. UXers have to view the business background of a project as a fundamental part of their design work and to keep in mind that the final creative outcomes need to bring business value.

Improve Your Business Communication Skills

Communication is one of the most important ingredients in the day-to-day activities of UX professionals. Working on projects, they should be able to clearly articulate their design choices, provide a concise and clear explanation of their work and efficiently interact with multiple team players.

UXers need to take a more proactive approach on learning the language of business people. Asking for business mentorship is one of the great ways for them to get business perspectives and insights on how to better translate abstract concepts of design and technology into more easily understood subjects for stakeholders and clients.

Align UX Design Strategy With Business Goals

User Experience is not simply a set of techniques and methodologies about designing for customers, but a strategic thinking about customer behaviors, desires, and expectations. It gives additional perspective that go beyond simple design skills for making decisions and solving problems for customers. User experience builds the foundation of a companys customer strategy to achieve a differentiating level against competitors.

Still, it has to be aligned with short and long-term business goals to create a cohesive user experience across all possible touchpoints and products, and get measurable results. UX strategy integrated with business strategy creates the direction and the framework for achieving business goals in a user friendly way and connecting with customers on a deep and meaningful level.

Do Not Isolate Yourself Collaborate

Everyone within an organization, whether it is someone from the UX, marketing, branding or product design team, has the the same goal: to ensure superior customer experience with visible results, increased customer acquisition and retention rates. That being said, very often these camps work in silos, putting up an array of disjoint experiences.

In order to create a coherent digital ecosystem of user experience for a business, cross-functional teams have to work together, share knowledge and provide insights from different directions. For UX teams it is essential to collaborate with other departments from the early stages of the design projects. This serves to understand the strategies behind positioning and advancing products and/or services over time while exploring the implications and interdependencies between brand-differentiated value and experience.

Develop Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is one powerful skill anyone could master. As the name implies, it is simply knowing what is going on around you. For UX designers, situational awareness is a valuable asset if they want to enhance credibility of their work and professional judgement within the business context. UX designers need to have adaptability to quickly read and understand the business of a company while navigating and operating within its constraints.

Cultivating a situational awareness mindset in UX design helps read situations, understand the bottom lines and see the big picture of the business ecosystem. And these insights help to balance user needs with business needs to create efficient UX.

Final Thoughts

In order to connect creative aspiration and business feasibility in UX design and bridge the gap that still divides design thinking and business thinking, UX professionals should be proactive in exploring business contexts and inter-dependencies between user needs and business goals.

Instead of relying entirely on UX language, they need to adopt business communication skills (the soft skills) to be able to navigate the dynamics of a design project in the framework of a particular business system and translate design concepts into the metrics and indicators familiar to clients or stakeholders.