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Business goals vs. user goals: four principles for achieving balance in the product

Let’s talk about something seemingly obvious. Who benefits from UX/UI design? You may be surprised to hear the answer, especially considering this to be part of fundamentals of a digital product success.

Many believe that UX/UI is a way to make users happy by helping them achieve their goals. After all, the name ‘UX/UI’ itself focuses on a ‘user’ — so how else can it be, right? Even designers themselves passionately believe in this and rarely miss the opportunity to talk about it. But this misconception comes at a cost to businesses. Let’s look at things as they really are.

UX/UI design is a connecting bridge that helps your business grow by building your brand bright and recognizable, expanding your audience, increasing conversion rate, improving user retention and loyalty, as well as helping you collect and analyze data.

💡 UX/UI design is the bridge that connects business and its clients. Its purpose is to help businesses achieve their goals.

A solid bridge should rest on similar, symmetrical and well-balanced supports. The bridge will collapse if one of the pillars is weaker than the others. No one would risk building an unbalanced bridge in real life but a lot of online businesses keep building ‘ crooked’ bridges, with very little clue that something is not right.
But what can go wrong? What makes a bridge crooked?

Users over business

You remember that user’s goals are important and that if you don’t achieve them, you won’t be able to achieve your company’s goals. Designers often try very hard to make users happy, inadvertently leaving business goals dragging behind.

Business over users

This is exactly the opposite. When a business owner has a good understanding of what UX/UI design is capable of, they are often tempted to take advantage of this knowledge, and often rather less ethically. If that happens, all user interaction with the product usually comes down to data collection, manipulative promotion and even building user’s addiction, which is in no way a part of healthy business practices. Users are simply used as a medium for distributing certain information. This approach is typical for companies that care about their profit a little more than their audience.

Perfect balance?

Of course, no business can avoid collecting data, advertising on social media or creating compelling products as this is common practice. But for effective interaction, you need a win-win solution to the benefit of both business and user goals. Otherwise your bridge will sag. What, basically, one needs to put together is the following two:

Customer-oriented design is considered to be optimal for small companies, perspective startups, and for products like consumer goods or something new and unusual. True, but putting a user first should not go at the expense of business interests. As long as your business goals are met, you can go all the way positioning your business as customer-oriented.

Business-oriented design, in turn, does not mean that profit is all the company cares about . This type of design supports the brand image, making it more respectable and trustworthy in the eyes of both partners and customers. It is UX / UI design that helps improve business processes in the company, make its goals clear, and increase employee loyalty and motivation.

These two equally strong pillars — one to support the company, and the other to support consumer — are the foundation of perfect balance. Every business should build that bridge. Failure to keep both pillars in balance can be fatal for a business. Business goals and user goals can sometimes conflict with each other. In this case, you need to find a trade off in order to keep the balance.

So how to achieve balance?

In order to come up with a really good product that benefits both business and its users, one needs to follow a few basic principles that can help to build a solid bridge:

1. Data collection

Any problem needs initial data to start with. Digital products often turn out to be suboptimal only because their creators did not make sure to get all the necessary data from customers.

Here are a few typical scenarios:

  1. The client has a vague idea of his business prospects and has no clearly defined goals and strategies.
  2. The client does not know what marketing data is required for development of a digital product.
  3. The client fails to provide complete information and makes arbitrary demands not based on marketing research.
  4. The client provides only the bare minimum of information, because of feeling hesitant about sharing it.

If you fail to provide designers with complete information about your business, its goals and mission, not to mention your current and future tasks, the final digital product may very likely come out less effective.

Designers may collect their own data on your target audience to create a user-oriented product. But they cannot see what your business can see. They will have to resort to guesswork or simulate your competition, and this is never a good idea. But rest assured you won’t have to share any sensitive data.

To make a good digital product, you need maximum information about the company (its mission, its current and future goals), the goods and/or services and their purposes, as well as the audience and its goals.

Help designers understand the nature and goals of your business. When they do, they can help create a unique image of the company make it noticeable, trustworthy and recognizable by consumers. It can’t be done without designers knowing what your business is and what objectives it pursues. For those just starting out and missing a clear idea about certain aspects, close work with designers will help fill in the missing parts and come up with neat ideas and solutions.

2. Central pillar of the bridge: USP

Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a connecting link between business and customers. This is what the users are here for. While characterizing your business, USP also affects the consumer. In our bridge analogy, USP is the central pillar and it is especially dependent on good design.

A unique selling proposition is the first thing people see. The design draws their attention to the USP, emphasizes its advantages, making it look unique and relevant, presenting it at its best. But of course, strengthening this pillar by maintaining great quality of what you offer is solely your task.

3. Action goals

The goal should excite the imagination and encourage action. If the goal does not call an action, the goal is either poorly defined, or not a goal at all, whether it’s about business goals or user goals.

Action goals must:

  • motivate;
  • imply solution to problems;
  • encourage emotionally.

If done right, it makes business win every time a user achieves their goals. And vice versa, achieving business goals grows the company stronger, expands the audience and encourages customer loyalty.

Note: Again, the design can handle these tasks if it has all the required data: information about the company, product and audience. The design supports the bridge pillars, connecting the interests of business and users. But the foundation comes first. Understanding that both pillars are equally important is vital. One shouldn’t focus on improving one leaving the other one behind.

4. Pillar maintenance

Here comes the tricky part. As maintaining all pillars equally is difficult, the balance may shift from time to time, and you need to be able to track that. You need to know which pillar needs your attention at the moment, where you have weak links. Testing can show you possible solutions: whether it is a full re-design, UX improvement or visual streamlining of your USP.

The key is to understand what needs improvement and where you should apply your efforts in order to maintain the consistency of the entire structure.

In conclusion: How to achieve both business and user goals

  • Clearly set business goals and user goals.
  • Communicate these goals to the project designers.
  • Keep in mind the ‘perfect bridge’ and all its pillars. Address the image of the company as much as the product and user interests.
  • Maintain a balance between business goals, user goals and product goals to keep the bridge steady.
  • Finally, choose designers with enough understanding of the equal importance of all goals and with enough flexibility and willingness to look for a compromise solution.

At Interactive Design, we like to see a bigger picture, which helps us oversee all aspects together and preserve this balance in UX/UI to help your business achieve the balance between business and user goals. You can be sure your UX/UI will reflect that.