User-centered Design: How to Prove (and Improve) Its Impact on the Bottom Line

Learn how to prove the value of user-centered design by linking it with the business's bottom line; to get more buy-in from stakeholders.

Author

Reshu Rathi

Date

May 26, 2023

Measuring user-centered design impact on a business's bottom line is a critical part of any UX designer's job. It allows you to better understand your work's effectiveness, demonstrate the value good design brings to your organization and can help you refine your strategy over time to improve returns as you learn.

In this post, we'll give you ways to prove that user-centered design benefits a business's bottom line.  

What is user-centered design?

Before we jump into how user-centered design (UCD) can benefit your business - let's first cover what user-centered design is to ensure we are on the same page.  


User-centered design is an iterative design approach that revolves around the needs and experiences of product users. This means that designers focus on understanding the user's needs and wants and then designing a product that meets those needs.  

Since UCD is an iterative process, this means that designers constantly get feedback from users and make required changes to the design based on that feedback. This ensures that the final product is as user-friendly as possible and resonates with the target audience.


In short, UCD is a design process that focuses on product users and incorporates user needs and feelings at each phase of product design and development.

Why embrace user-centered design?

If you want to design a user-centered product, simply relying on your knowledge and intuition will not work. For a truly user-centric product, you need a user-centered design process.


UCD ensures that the final product is useful to users. It helps you save time and money that you otherwise have to spend on redevelopment, as designers can make changes early in the process. It can improve the user experience, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Here is an example of how UCD can be used in action. Let's say you are designing a new website for a company. You would start by conducting user research to understand the needs of your target audience. Ask them questions about what they do on websites, what they like and dislike about other websites, and what features they want to see on your website.  


Once you have a good understanding of your users' needs, you can start designing the website. You can use wireframes and prototypes to get user feedback early in the process. This way, you can ensure that the design is user-friendly and meets the needs of your target audience.


UCD is a valuable tool for any designer who wants to create useful and enjoyable products for users. If you are new to UCD and trying to figure out how to collect and analyze user insights, don't worry; some good user research tools available these days can help you collect user feedback. Additionally, these tools also help you turn this data into insights.

Four principles of effective user-centered design?

Now that you know the benefits of UCD, let's get into the fundamental principles that can help you in creating a user-centered design

1. Focus on people


In this technology-driven era, most companies focus on tech while developing products and services and forget to pay attention to the actual end-user of the products.


This approach can lead to product failure as it doesn't understand or solve the user's real needs.


As the father of UI design, Donald A. Norman, perfectly put it, Technology may change rapidly, but people change slowly. The principals [of design] come from understanding people. They remain true forever.

2. Cultivate empathy


We're all aware that empathy plays a crucial role in creating excellent designs, and the UCD process is exceptional for fostering a deep understanding and sensitivity toward the user.  

In fact, UCD revolves around the ability to perceive things from the perspective of your users, with the ultimate goal of crafting delightful products and experiences.  


Embracing this approach means setting aside personal opinions and consistently solving for the user's needs at every step.


By developing a deep understanding of the user's motivations, pain points, and aspirations, we can tailor our solutions to address their specific requirements. This empathetic mindset forms the foundation for creating meaningful and impactful designs that truly resonate with the users.


By embracing empathy as a core principle, we can consistently deliver user-centric products that exceed expectations and foster long-lasting connections with our audience.

3. Involve users from the start


One of the most important principles of user-centered design is to involve users early in the design process.


Early involvement allows designers to deeply understand their users and the specific problems they need solutions for. By engaging users from the beginning, designers can gather valuable insights that shape their design decisions.


Conducting frequent user interviews, testing, and collecting feedback is vital in creating a user-centric design. These ongoing interactions help designers validate their work and ensure their designs are truly useful to their users.  


By prioritizing early and frequent user involvement, designers can create products that are better aligned with user needs, resulting in higher satisfaction and increased usability.

4. Keep iterating


We all know user research is crucial for business success; conducting user research allows you to dive deep beneath the surface of what your users say they want to uncover what they really want. But most designers do it once at the start of the design.  


However, it's crucial to consider the user's needs throughout the entire design cycle. Because users' expectations keep changing, and to address the evolving needs, designers need to adopt an iterative approach by continuously reassessing their designs, gathering additional user insights, and iterating on the final product.

For example, let's say you created a prototype and tested it. Will it be enough? No? You need to keep testing it at every stage until your product is ready for the market, making iteration one of the core principles of user-centered design.


The user-centered design (UCD) process goes beyond the product's initial release and extends to subsequent redesigns and upgrades. It serves as a guiding principle to incorporate user feedback and ensure the delivery of the best possible product for users.  


By embracing an iterative design process, designers can effectively collect and integrate valuable user input, resulting in continuous improvement and enhanced user satisfaction.

Related Read: Artificial Intelligence in User Research: 6 Things It Can and Can't Do.

How to measure user-centered design impact on the business bottom line?

1. Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty


By prioritizing user needs and creating intuitive and delightful experiences, the user-centered design enhances the overall experience and satisfaction. And we all know that satisfied users are more likely to stay with your business, leading to increased retention, repeat business, and potential word-of-mouth marketing.  


But on the flip side, poor user experience can negatively impact your retention. Did you know that 88% of people are less inclined to return to a site after a bad UX, making it crucial to invest in user-centered design?

Related Read: How Investing in UX Research Can Improve Your Bottom Line.

2. Better Team Performance

We all know developing a product is a time-consuming process. But do you know that the choices made during the design phase can impact your conversions and streamline or complicate the work for your team?

 

For instance, if developers have to spend hours fixing random errors, it ultimately leads to more time spent and additional complications.  

Image source

By implementing a systematic approach and comprehending how design influences user behavior, you can optimize your team's efficiency and save valuable time. This, in turn, boosts overall team performance and maximizes the benefits gained from their efforts.

3. Higher Conversion Rates: Good UX, Happy Users, More Conversions


When it comes to UX design, minor tweaks in shape and pattern can not only make a big difference in user experience but can boost your conversions too.  


“Investment in UX is often the difference between businesses that grow and those that sputter.” - Roman Nurik, designer and design advocate, Google


By investing in the user-centered design, you can optimize the user journey and streamline the path to conversion. With clear navigation, persuasive call-to-action buttons, and intuitive interfaces, you can significantly boost your conversion rates, driving more sales or desired actions from your target audience.

4. Competitive advantage and differentiation

User-centered design helps you gain a competitive edge by enabling your business to differentiate itself in the market. How? By prioritizing and understanding user needs and preferences, you create a unique and superior experience that distinguishes you from competitors.  

Apple is a prime example of this approach, renowned for its user-centered design principles. The iPhone's success can be attributed to its intuitive user interface, touchscreen capabilities, and continuous improvement based on user feedback.  

Investing in user-centered design attracts more customers and positions your brand as a leader, giving you a significant advantage in the industry.

Wrapping up: Harness the Potential of User-Centered Design


User-centered design is a comprehensive framework emphasizing the user's involvement throughout the design process. It can be seamlessly integrated with other design approaches, such as agile testing and continuous discovery, to enhance the overall design outcomes.


The specific implementation of the user-centered design process will vary based on your unique business requirements. The key is to leverage this process to effectively address the needs of your target users while aligning with your business goals.

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Author Bio

Reshu Rathi is an online marketing and conversion rate enthusiast. She specializes in content marketing, lead generation, and engagement strategy. Her byline can be found all over the web

Reshu Rathi

Product Marketing Specialist

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