As designers, we focus on very particular areas when working on a project.
Navigation. Colours. Breadcrumbs. Forms. Graphs. Checkout flows.
We are employed for a very particular reason – to deliver solid visuals and a great user experience. However, what many designers fail to appreciate is that the design decisions they make impact a lot more than just the designs.
Many project-based designers only consider the impacts that their decisions have on their own KPIs — not the larger picture. After all, if we’re making visual “amazeballs” interfaces and bouncing between employers, why not?
Delivering a pretty interface is easy with enough practice. Listening to stakeholder input, strategising ideas to meet their goals and brainstorming design strategies to combat all situations isn’t. You need to listen more, think more, plan more and justify better.
Set yourself apart from mere visual designers — play a strategic, cross-functional role that brings value beyond pretty designs. Think about these key areas outside of the design realm and up your value game.
1 — Growth
Design and Growth go hand in hand. At the core of many growth teams you are likely to find a designer. Even if you don’t have a growth function involved in a given project, designers need to be “thinking growth” at all times.
Your work can both benefit a growth team and contribute to growth metrics. Engage, interact and leverage the field of Growth to better your designs.
- Growth teams love research — they’re always looking for problems to form the basis of their growth strategies. Guess who does lots of user research? Interface designers! Work alongside the growth function to ensure both teams feel the full benefit of user research.
- Keep the AARRR framework in mind. A designer needs to ensure interfaces deliver minimal friction at each stage of the funnel. Look closely at each stage and consider how your design can help maximise results
- Growth teams are likely to experiment with your designs. Button colours, words, and various key flows are often tinkered with. Don’t take it as “my design is crap!” — involve yourself, learn and use the results to improve your future works.
2 — SEO
Considerations for search optimisation need to be in a designer’s mind from day 1. What may seem an insignificant decision to a designer may likely wield a significant impact on a product’s SEO performance.
Keep these factors in mind when designing.
- Having mobile-friendly designs (when applicable) is non-negotiable. With research from Google showing that 94% of smartphone users search for local info on their phones, this is a no-brainer for a designer. You can use this test to help identify any problems.
- Decisions around Information Architecture (IA) need to be spot-on. Do your categories make sense? Consider how many pages “deep” you are designing from the homepage and how simple navigation is for a user. Limit repetitive content where possible.
- Consider what design elements you are using. Using modals or overlays without proper consideration can have negative SEO impacts.
- If the interface looks good but is hard to use, don’t be surprised if search rankings fall. Usability is crucial, so think beyond how things look and put yourself in the shoes of the user.
3 — Marketing Strategies
Marketing is all about communication, and design is all about visual communication. As a result, UX designers need to keep a marketing team’s considerations close to their heart.
- Marketing aims to build brand credibility, UX contributes to such credibility. A study shows 75% of users judge a company’s credibility based off visual website design. Don’t underestimate the influence you have on a brand when designing!
- Many marketing teams undertake a lot of research. If you’re working on a project basis, tap into their knowledge to build your personas. Work with, and not against, the Marketing function when it comes to research.
4 — Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)/Online Merchandising
Design decisions have a direct impact on a product/page’s conversion rates. Decisions should be made that benefit both users and the business. A designer that can be business-savvy as well as user-savvy? Sounds good to me.
- CRO focuses on conversion, UX on the user. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Drive happy users and business results. Keep CRO principles in mind when designing or work closely with a company’s growth specialist.
- Are you using colours appropriately? Colour can make or break conversion rates. Some research says colour influences up to 90% of one’s product assessment. Use colours that encourage the right emotion and desired user behaviours. Justin Baker has a great write-up on Colour and UX here.
- Merchandising needs design to prioritise certain information correctly. Product photos, titles, descriptions and reviews are key pieces of information that users refers to when buying products. Interfaces should not drown out such important information to “hero” the interface, but instead play a supporting role to the product or service at hand.