Executive Education

CEOs: Invest in UX Design With These 3 Tips or Get Left Behind

Having grown by three hundred fifty-three times in just five years and hired more than a hundred people within eighteen months, Airbnb is the epitome of a unicorn. But it didn’t get there solely through stellar marketing, product management, or leadership. No, it did so in large part through an unrelenting focus on experience design.

Take Air/shots, Airbnb’s proprietary system to see what its app looks like on any device in more than twenty language and one hundred ninety-one countries. With it, Airbnb’s design team has built an app that’s valuable for all of its users, regardless of their device, location, or native tongue.

This intense interest in its user experience has paid off handsomely for Airbnb, with the company boasting a staggering valuation of thirty-one billion dollars. Always ahead of the curve, Airbnb knows that UX will soon surpass price and product as the ultimate brand differentiator.

Airbnb’s UX-first approach might seem like a step into the future, but most consumers are already there. In fact, three-quarters of consumers will abandon a clunky online interface to seek a service channel that offers a better experience.

Think about that. A poor user experience is enough to drive away seventy-five percent of your online customers. To avoid being left behind, take the following steps to seek stakeholder buy-in for your UX initiative:

  1. Start small, and define key performance indicators. Don’t try to revamp your entire design process on the first go. Pick something that’s reasonable to take on as a project — something highly visible, likely to result in a “win,” and capable of being measured, like a homepage redesign.

    For example, ESPN.com’s revenue skyrocketed thirty-five percent after implementing key homepage redesign suggestions from users. Measurement is key for stakeholders to truly understand how UX improvements can affect the bottom line.

  1. Get qualitative insights without breaking the bank. Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest differences. Believe it or not, Bing tweaked the color of its search result links and brought in an extra eighty million dollars in annual revenueas a result.

    You don’t need a huge research department to get valuable user insights. Start with as few as five users for your usability study with something as simple as a paper prototype as a reference point. It’s a better use of resources to run many tests with a small user group than larger studies, according to the Nielsen Norman Group.

  1. Quantify the bottom-line impact. After each round of research and implementation, analyze results and report back to stakeholders on your progress. Use plain language when explaining your findings and your plans on how to fix the issues you’ve come across, and tie each to a financial projection.

    If your landing page captured more leads after you changed the call to action, for example, lead with that data. Estimate how much additional revenue the company might see from those leads — or might have already seen. Use graphs and charts to show increased revenue projections.

The ROI for a great user experience can’t be overstated. In fact, by improving your customer experience score by just ten percentage points, it can amount to more than a billion dollars over the long run. A great UX will have your customers coming back for more — more leads, more clicks, more referrals, and more purchases. No price cut or product tweak can match that. 

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Jay Amico
Jay Amico is a product designer and UX consultant at Yeti LLC, a product-focused development and design studio in San Francisco. A self-styled "UX geek," Jay excels at understanding user habits, perceptions, and behaviors. After working for years in litigation and trial law, Jay attended Hackbright Academy to kick off their software engineering career and then served as a UX designer for Perforce Software and General Assembly before joining the Yeti team.