5 Steps To Create an Effective UX Strategy

Camren Browne, contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

Curious about how to build your own UX strategy? Here are five simple steps to get you started.

Great products don’t happen by chance. Often, there is meticulous and well-thought-out planning that occurs before the work even begins. Designers rely on combining tried-and-true UX design methods with trusted business tactics to make products that please both the users and the company stakeholders. 

To do this, many design teams choose to utilize UX strategy. A UX strategy is a detailed plan for how to keep a user’s experience with a brand in line with the overall goals and objectives of the company. It’s quite easy to create a UX strategy, and the process can be broken down into the following five steps:

  1. Define your goals 
  2. Research
  3. Brainstorm and wireframe 
  4. Test and evaluate designs
  5. Prepare to iterate

These five steps are designed to help you create a comprehensive and effective UX strategy so you and your design team can make the most out of your work and create stellar products for your users and stakeholders. In this article, we’ll talk you through the details of each step and how to use them to craft your own UX strategy. Let’s get into it!

Two designers creating a UX strategy at a table covered in sticky notes and paper prototypes

1. Define your goals 

The greatest advantage of curating a UX strategy is the ability to keep company and user goals in line. It’s crucial to define what you and your team are aiming for as early as possible. So, the first step in crafting your UX strategy is to outline what your team hopes to achieve with the product. 

You’ll want to include plans for the ideal user experience as well as overall business objectives. Here are some questions to ask yourself when defining your goals: 

  • What do we want to create or improve?
  • What problem do we want our product to solve?
  • What does a successful user experience look like?
  • What do we need to know about our users?
  • What financial targets need to be hit?
  • How much funding do we have?
  • What are our time constraints?
  • How can company performance be maximized?

Once your objectives are laid out, it’s time to plan your research and the methods you’ll use to reach product goals.

2. Research

There’s a lot to research when designing a new product. When drafting your UX strategy, include what research tools you’ll use, what information you want to uncover, how to analyze your data, and assess if adding a UX researcher to the team is warranted. There are three main areas of research you’ll want to consider: users, stakeholders, and the competition. 

Users

Learning about your users is crucial, and how you go about obtaining their demographics, wants, and needs can have a big impact on product success. Ask yourself what you already know about your users, what data you need, and how you will get it. Plan out how you will distribute and conduct your questionnaires, surveys, and interviews. You’ll also want to strategize how you will summarize and present the data using user personas, journey maps, and user stories or scenarios

Stakeholders

Your stakeholders are often the people that run the company or are in charge of major funding for the project. It’s important to find out what they see as important by asking what they expect from their product, how they plan to use it, and what they have tried in the past. Be sure to assess how lucrative their website or service is currently and determine what metrics they use to track success. 

Competition

This is where you’ll research companies with similar products or ones that your stakeholders have indicated as competition. Plan to have a good look at the services they provide, how their products function, and the amount of user engagement they have. Try to analyze what works and what doesn’t. Researching competing companies gives you a clue as to what your users may be expecting and different methods to adopt or abandon. 

3. Brainstorm and outline

Now that you have a solid understanding of what your users need from your product and the resources you have to create it, it’s time to start drafting some designs. When planning this stage of your UX strategy, assess what brainstorming and creation methods you and your team will use to come up with some preliminary designs. 

Ask yourself and your team some questions:

  • What ideation exercises will you use? 
  • Will you start with good ole’ pen and paper? What design softwares do you have access to?
  • Does your team need an online software that supports remote work? 
  • Are there preferred wireframing and prototyping tools you will use?

Furthermore, strategize how you will keep your users’ needs at the forefront when outlining your designs. Make it clear which features, elements, images, and content must be included in order to meet the user’s expectations. Now is also a good time to plan out guidelines for accessibility and usability that fit your target audience.

While it may take more than a few brainstorming and sketching sessions to come up with a test-ready prototype, be sure to keep company deadlines and resource allotment in mind. How much time do you have to come up with a first draft? Do you need to utilize more budget-friendly softwares? It’s easy to spend lots of time tweaking early designs, so make sure to keep your stakeholders’ timeline and budget under consideration. 

Three designers sitting at a shared desk, working on laptops

4. Plan testing and evaluation methods

Now that you’ve got a solid idea of how you’ll approach creating solutions, it’s time to plan what methods you’ll use to test your designs and how to go about evaluating the results. Here are some things to think about:

  • How will you recruit users for testing?
  • Will the tests be moderated or unmoderated?
  • Will they be done remotely or in-person?
  • What user and usability testing methods will you use? 
  • Can you run testing yourselves or do you need to outsource to a testing company? (e.g. UserTesting)
  • Are you obtaining both qualitative and quantitative data?
  • How will you analyze and present the data you obtain?
  • What types of metrics will you be using to measure success?
  • Do your designs fit the requirements for your development team?

When planning your testing and evaluation, be sure the methods you choose help your team assess what is working well for your product and what isn’t. What can you keep the same or add more of, and what needs to be re-worked or scrapped? When you’ve got a strong idea of how to test and evaluate, it’s time to start thinking of how to use the data obtained to make meaningful improvements to your product.

5. Prepare to iterate

No UX strategy is complete without a plan of how to revise and improve your designs based on user feedback. Most final products go through several cycles of the design process and are constantly undergoing re-testing and revisions even after they are released to the public. Technology and UX trends are constantly changing and the best design teams keep evolving their products along with them. 

Be sure your UX strategy includes how to use the data you gathered during your user testing to improve the user experience and how to keep the product current and in line with users’ expectations. The more you plan to stay on top of all these elements now, the less work you’ll have to do in the future dealing with total re-designs. 

Key takeaways

A well crafted UX strategy is like a map to the best possible outcome for your users and stakeholders. With your UX strategy fully laid out, you can start designing products that are not only profitable for the company, but ones that users feel excited to engage with as well. UX strategy can also help minimize costs and unnecessary labor, maximize revenue, and build long-lasting, useful products.  So whether you have an app, website, or other digital product, coming up with a UX strategy before the work begins can help guarantee your design methods are efficient, modern, and successful.

Want to learn more about UX design? Here are a few guides you’ll find helpful:

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