The value of user-centric digital product design

When it comes to the sustainable growth of a mobile app or website, the fulfillment of business goals shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind. The number of app downloads or site visitors aren’t a reliable way of evaluating the quality of a product - or determining whether it will stand the test of time and be successful in the long run.

Ensuring the sustainable success of a digital product can be done by evaluating how and why it will not just attract users, but retain them. Taking a user-led approach to digital product design creates digital experiences with an enduring shelf-life, the longevity of which can be determined long before launch. If you want to make this work, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Product goals

Whatever your digital product, be it a website, mobile app, intranet portal or in-flight carrier pigeon entertainment system, there are a set of features you want your product to have. These are the functionalities the digital platform needs to achieve its intended purpose. They are your product goals, which have concrete steps with clearly defined end results.

Product goals can be summarised best using user stories. These are quick, snappy descriptions compiled by UX designers during the initial discovery and planning phase of the design process. They are written from the perspective of an end user (it’s called user-led design for a reason!) and are used to create simplified descriptions of a product requirement.

“I want to create an account for this online library”

“I want to see what timekeeping products this ecommerce website has available for purchase.”

UX and UI designers then map out the infrastructure and layout of the product so that each user story can be turned from wishful thinking into thoughtful design.

User goals

Throughout the design process you have to remind yourself that what stakeholders want a product to achieve may not be what end users are invested in. User goals are real-world end states that real people want to reach, which will more than likely stretch beyond the scope of your product. They are desires that have a direct influence on the end user’s life.

“I want to read 100 books this year.”

“I want to own a new clock”

Being aware of how people will interact with your digital product is essential to achieving these user goals. Designers create in-depth plans around how straightforward it is to use the product, how users may feel when doing so, and how this influences further interactions. How these interactions develop and progress is known as user engagement. This is a reliable indicator of how well user goals are met because it focuses on how real people really behave. (You can learn more about this in our blog post about user engagement.)

User retention

A digital product carefully crafted by UX designers to focus on realising user goals results in a domino effect of successes that will ensure consistent reaching of the business goals product stakeholders are most invested in. The key to this is not just gaining new users, but keeping the old ones.

Sure, business goals can be achieved directly after launch if your product marketing has worked its magic. App downloads, accounts created, and initial sales figures through a website are likely to build up initially. But this progress isn’t guaranteed to last if the platform struggles in meeting its product goals.

Poor design choices and confusing user flows can result in new users downloading and trying out the product, only to grow frustrated after failed attempts to use it. If the platform doesn’t deliver, people won’t get what they’re after and will likely abandon the product entirely. Poor user engagement like this costs your business potential repeat users. If you don’t cure this retention headache your product will be left floundering.

User Experience

Intuitive UX design that provides a good user experience is just what the doctor ordered for meeting user goals. Knowing how to avoid UX Design mistakes makes achieving product goals a breeze. Then when the product behaves as people expect it to, their user goals are easy to realise. And what happens to users who get what they want out of a digital product? They come back to it time and time again.

Encouraging user retention through positive user experiences will protect you from plummeting usage figures, making the meeting of business goals and the future of your digital product that much more stable.

So now you know how business, product, and user goals are inherently interlinked. You understand the value of UX and UI designers who swear by user-centric design. You’re aware that whether your digital product is a seedling idea or a veteran in its field, a UX review can invigorate it by revealing pain points and solving them through design that prioritises the end user. It’s time to put your best foot forward, and put your user first. Contact us to get started.

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Martin Sandhu
Founder – martin@nuom.co.uk