UX Outcomes: Bridging the Gap Between User Needs and Business Objectives

Jack O'Donoghue Avatar


Aligning UX Outcomes with Business Outcomes, helps us to create value for the customer in a way that captures value for the business.

By involving our stakeholders in the process, we get the added bonus of SHOWING them the value of Design, rather than TELLING them.

In this article, we’ll go through a simple process to identify UX and business outcomes, then design solutions that meet the needs of them both.

1. Business Outcomes – What Are You Trying to Achieve?

The first step in building a healthy and productive working relationship with any stakeholder is to get a deep understanding of their goals and what they want to achieve.

This understanding will form the basis of your design brief and serve as the catalyst for your user research and information-gathering phase.

In order to have a healthy and productive relationship with stakeholders, it is important to understand their goals and what they want to achieve.

Before meeting with your stakeholders, do what you can to research the system, problem area, or design brief based on information that you have available. This’ll help you form some opinions, note down some questions, and help in your initial conversations about business outcomes.

The focus of your initial conversation with stakeholders should be on understanding what they consider to be a success in terms of outcomes, metrics, and KPIs.

It’s natural for these conversations to focus heavily on outputs. For example, we want to build a new feature for our product.

But it’s important to get past this initial request by asking:

  • What value will this bring to the business?
  • How will you measure success?
  • What metrics and KPIs would you like to influence?

These pointed questions, and ones like them, will encourage your stakeholder to focus on the specifics of what they’re trying to achieve, not what they want to build.

We want to get past outputs and focus on outcomes, this allows us to work upward from a solid foundation rather than unpicking preconceived ideas about what the solution should be.

Even if you are committed to building a specific solution, it’s still important to do the work to understand ‘Why’.

This will allow you to add value above and beyond outputs, and it’ll give you the information you need to have meaningful input in the conversation rather than simply producing features.

The business outcomes should be documented in concrete terms, for example:

  • Increase customer retention by 10%
  • Reduce customer support tickets by 25%
  • Increase customer satisfaction by 20%
  • Increase turnover from new actives by 2%

Although it can be uncomfortable for a UX Designer to talk in these terms, it’s critical that you understand what matters most to your stakeholders.

Without this information, your work may create value for the user, but if it doesn’t do so in a way that also captures value for the business, then it’s unlikely to get support and funding.

2. User Goals – What Do Your Users Want to Accomplish?

The next step is to conduct discovery research to uncover user goals. Combined with the business outcomes, you’ll be able to create value for the business and the customer.

You may already have some user segments in mind for your discovery, but if not, then decide which customer segments you want to include in your research.

The focus of discovery research is to uncover user goals that align with business outcomes to create value for the customer and the business.

This group will serve as the focus for your discovery and will help you to validate your UX Design ideas later on in the process.

Select the customer segment based on which segments are most likely to be impacted by the business outcomes, problem area, or new features being proposed by the business.

Once you’ve picked your segment, you’ll need to go out and speak to these users to understand the customer experience related to the project you’re working on.

Some common UX research questions at this stage are:

  • What are the user’s goals when interacting with this project?
  • What measurable change will happen in their life when these goals are complete?
  • What are the pain points that exist for these users?
  • How do they currently use the product or service?
  • Where is the friction in the current user experience?

Once we’ve got the answers to these questions, we want to turn our findings into clear, concise insights that help us to come up with solutions and make informed design decisions.

There are a few ways you can document these insights, but for this process in particular, we want to articulate the user’s goals and what outcomes those goals lead to.

There’s a subtle difference between the two:

  • Outcomes are the results of accomplishing goals.

Here are some examples:

User Goal: Find a nearby coffee shop.

User Outcome: Successfully navigate to the coffee shop and purchase a coffee.

User Goal: Book a hotel for a vacation.

User Outcome: Secure a comfortable and convenient place to stay during the trip.

User Goal: Learn a new skill online.

User Outcome: Successfully acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to apply the new skill in real-life situations.

User Goal: Purchase a new smartphone

User Outcome: Receive a functional, reliable, and satisfactory smartphone.

User Goal: Improve physical fitness

User Outcome: Achieve better health, increased energy levels, and a sense of accomplishment.

It takes some practice to articulate user outcomes with this level of accuracy, and it requires in-depth UX Research to make them evidence-based and reliable.

For practice articulating user goals in this way:

  • Try taking known user goals and articulating them as outcomes.
  • Try taking some of your own personal goals and articulating them as outcomes.

Take a goal and ask yourself, what would be the result of achieving this goal?

That result is your user outcome.

By articulating our user goals and outcomes in this way, we can create tangible use cases and journeys that help us design a product or service that is both user-centric and meets the business objectives.

3. Mapping – Connecting Business Outcomes with User Outcomes

Your user goals are only useful if they’re relevant to the problem area you’re investigating and if they align with a business outcome.

And for this exercise to have a significant impact on the project, it needs to be done with the stakeholders who care most about the business outcomes.

This is an example of how to SHOW people the value of UX Design rather than TELL them.

The goal of this process is to SHOW people the value of UX design in order to get buy-in from stakeholders.

It gives stakeholders concrete examples of how design can create business value in terms that are meaningful and relevant to them and their goals.

  1. Write down your business outcomes – Start this process by writing down the business outcomes from step one.
  2. Collate your user outcomes – Then collate your user outcomes so they’re visible and easy to move around.
  3. Discuss them with your stakeholder – Talk through them with your stakeholder, and explain any detail necessary to grasp the importance of these outcomes to the users. If you can prioritize them based on your findings from user research, then it will make this task a lot easier.
  4. Map the outcomes to the business outcomes – Working with your stakeholder, start to discuss which UX Outcome relates to which business outcome. Map those outcomes to the objective. If it maps to multiple objectives, then feel free to duplicate the outcome. It’s ok to have it in more than one place.

If you only have one business outcome, consider breaking it down if possible, or keep it as is, then discuss which UX Outcomes have the potential to impact the business outcome the most.

Use this exercise to engage your stakeholder and encourage them to empathize with your users and their needs.

This collaborative exercise should help you align with your stakeholder on the most important objectives and outcomes, the discussions will help you understand the project from your stakeholder’s perspective, and it will help your stakeholders understand the project from your user’s perspective.

5. Design – Creating Solutions that Deliver UX Outcomes

Once you have a clear definition of the user outcomes, it’s time to start thinking about how we can create solutions that will deliver those outcomes.

By referring to the most important outcomes throughout the ideation process, you can make sure that your ideas don’t stray from the business outcomes.

By referring to the most important outcomes throughout the ideation process, you can make sure that your ideas don’t stray from the business outcomes.

There are a few ways you can use outcomes to help with ideation:

  • Use outcomes as jumping-off points and inspiration in ideation.
  • Use them to evaluate and select design ideas based on relevance.
  • Use them to evaluate your competitor’s products and services.
  • Use them to find inspiration in other related industries or technologies.

It’s important to remember that outcomes should be seen as guidance, not hard and fast rules. Outcomes help you think about how your design solutions might work for the user and the business, but they don’t need to limit your creativity or innovation.

Once you have a list of ideas, it’s time to start building prototypes to validate your ideas and test them with users. This process should help you refine the design solution based on feedback from stakeholders, product owners, and users.

By referring back to user outcomes throughout the design process, you can make sure that your solutions are still relevant to the problem area and the project objectives.

6. Measurement – Evaluating Success and Improving Outcomes

Now that you have a solid understanding of business outcomes and some very clear UX Outcomes that you want to achieve, you can define specific UX Metrics to track the performance of your design once it gets into the user’s hands.

It’s a good idea to attempt to define metrics before you design solutions, although it’s often an iterative process of exploring solutions in order to get a deeper understanding of the outcomes. It’s ok if there’s some back and forth between the stages.

In order to track the success of a design, define specific UX Metrics based on desired outcomes.

To identify and define specific UX Metrics based on your outcomes, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the main outcomes that you want to measure.
  2. Break the outcome down into measurable tasks that need to take place.
  3. Define metrics for each task that measure performance.
  4. Establish a baseline for each UX metric and track the performance over time.

For example:

  1. Our outcome is that customers can successfully purchase clothing that fits well.
  2. The measurable tasks are to add the item to a cart, leave a review, and request a refund.
  3. Our metrics could then be reduced cart errors, positive reviews, and reduce refund requests.
  4. We set a baseline based on the current performance of these tasks and measure the results.

Notice that I said, to break the outcome down into MEASURABLE TASKS. Some outcomes will have aspects that are difficult to measure. That’s ok, but we’ll focus on the things that we can measure.

This saves us from creating vague metrics that are difficult to track and won’t add any value to our decision-making and processes.

Once you have a set of UX Metrics, you can use them to track how your design solutions are performing and make adjustments if they’re not successful. This will help ensure that your product design solution is meeting its intended objectives and delivering on promised outcomes.

This is where the design process goes full cycle, if you notice issues where your metrics aren’t performing as expected. You can use this as a starting point for further discovery. Use it as a prompt for continuous improvement and iteration.

Key Takeaways

  1. UX outcomes are critical for businesses to achieve their business outcomes. 
  2. UX designers and researchers, use various like lean UX, design thinking, and user research to ensure the user’s needs and behaviors are considered in the design process. 
  3. Metrics are used to measure the success of the product design, and usability testing is done to ensure that it’s a great user experience. 
  4. Stakeholders and product managers play a significant role in the design process, and UX leaders are essential in facilitating the creation of good UX collaboratively. 
  5. The use of interaction design frameworks, user interviews, and customer journey mapping can help achieve effective UX Strategy, great user experience, and web usability.
  6. UX design is focused on creating great user experiences, and the outcomes of UX research and design can have a significant impact on business outcomes. 
  7. To achieve great UX outcomes, it’s important for designers to understand their users’ behavior and needs, and to work closely with stakeholders, product managers, and other members of the UX team. 
  8. Good UX design requires a holistic approach that takes into account usability, visual design, and other factors, and UX leaders play an important role in shaping the field and pushing it forward.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 4

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful…

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post wasn't useful.

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Jack O'Donoghue Avatar