7 Ways to Get Buy-In and Influence UX Stakeholders

Jack O'Donoghue Avatar



I’d love to believe that good design is enough to get buy-in.

But unfortunately, the factors that influence decision makers are much more complex.

Our workplaces are hot beds of politics with opposing forces pulling in all directions.

That’s why Designers need a range of tools at their disposal to get their ideas across.

But with that said, hands down, the most effective approach is to build rapport with your stakeholders and spend time understanding their motivations, needs and personalities.

This will allow you to align ideas with their goals and present them in a way that resonates.

Jack O’Donoghue (2 x Bestselling UX Course Creator)
UX Strategy Blueprint
Design Thinking Made Simple

Gaining the support and buy-in of stakeholders is a pivotal aspect of any UX project. 

It’s not just about presenting your ideas; it’s about influencing decision-makers. 

By leveraging psychological principles, you can more effectively sway stakeholders in your favor. 

Here are seven ways to do just that.

1. Leverage Social Proof to Build Credibility

Social proof is the idea that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior. 

In a UX context, showcase how similar organizations or competitors have successfully implemented similar projects. Case studies, testimonials, and industry benchmarks can be powerful in demonstrating that your proposals are aligned with successful industry practices.

2. Establish Authority Through Expert Insights

People tend to respect and follow the lead of authority figures. Position yourself as a UX expert by sharing your knowledge, experience, and insights. 

This could be through detailed research reports, presenting at workshops, or contributing to well-regarded UX publications. When stakeholders see you as an authority in UX, they’re more likely to trust your recommendations.

3. Utilize Commitment Consistency to Keep Stakeholders Engaged

Once a stakeholder has agreed to a small request or part of a project, they’re more likely to continue their support. This is known as commitment consistency. 

Start by getting stakeholders on board with smaller aspects of your UX proposals. Their initial commitment can pave the way for greater involvement and support in more significant aspects of the project.

4. Use the Principle of Liking to Build Rapport

People are more likely to be influenced by those they like. Building a rapport with stakeholders is crucial. 

This can be achieved by finding common interests, empathizing with their challenges, and maintaining a positive, collaborative demeanor in all interactions.

5. Apply Scarcity to Highlight Unique Opportunities

The principle of scarcity indicates that people value things that are less available. 

In your UX proposals, highlight what is unique about your approach and the exclusive benefits it offers. Emphasize the potential loss of not pursuing the project, such as falling behind competitors or missing out on enhanced user satisfaction.

6. Reciprocity: Give Value to Get Support

The principle of reciprocity suggests that people feel obliged to return favors. Provide stakeholders with valuable insights, helpful feedback, or other resources without immediate expectation of return. This goodwill can lead to increased support when you need their buy-in for your UX proposals.

7. Storytelling: Create a Narrative Around User Experience

Humans are naturally drawn to stories. Craft a compelling narrative around your UX project, focusing on how it will positively impact users and the business. Use real user stories, hypothetical scenarios, and visual storytelling to make your case more engaging and relatable.

Wrapping Up

Influencing stakeholders in UX requires more than just strong design skills; it requires an understanding of human psychology. 

By employing these seven principles—social proof, authority, commitment consistency, liking, scarcity, reciprocity, and storytelling—you can significantly enhance your ability to gain stakeholder buy-in. 

Remember, the key to success is not just in what you present, but also in how you present it.

You Asked, We Answered

Q: What is essential for gaining UX stakeholder buy-in?
A: Clear communication of UX benefits and alignment with business goals are key to gaining stakeholder buy-in.

Q: How does UX research influence design decisions?
A: UX research provides critical user insights, guiding design decisions towards meeting user needs effectively.

Q: What’s the role of a UX designer in a project?
A: A UX designer focuses on creating user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing interfaces, enhancing user experience.

Q: Why is user research vital in UX?
A: User research uncovers user needs and behaviors, ensuring designs are user-centric and practical.

Q: How can a stakeholder interview improve UX work?
A: Stakeholder interviews provide insights into business goals, aligning UX work with organizational objectives.

Q: What are the challenges in managing difficult stakeholders in UX?
A: Difficult stakeholders often have conflicting interests or lack understanding of UX value, requiring strategic communication and empathy.

Q: What is stakeholder analysis in UX?
A: Stakeholder analysis in UX identifies key stakeholders and their influence, guiding strategy for engagement and communication.

Q: How do UX researchers contribute to design projects?
A: UX researchers gather and analyze user data, providing evidence-based insights for informed design decisions.

Q: What’s the impact of UX maturity on a business?
A: Higher UX maturity leads to better user experiences, improving customer satisfaction and business outcomes.

Q: How does design thinking benefit UX projects?
A: Design thinking fosters creativity and user empathy, leading to innovative and effective UX solutions.

Q: What is the significance of usability testing in UX?
A: Usability testing evaluates how easily users can interact with a product, ensuring its effectiveness and user-friendliness.

Q: How does a product manager work with a UX team?
A: A product manager collaborates with the UX team to align product design with user needs and business goals.

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