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How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in Usability and User Experience

If you are trying to convince your boss (and your boss’s boss) to start testing, investing in a new metric tool or to redesign an interface, you are not alone. Does it sound like a daily routine question for you or a nightmare? Whatever it might be, you need to adopt some strategies to influence people in your organization to embrace usability and user experience (UX) in order to invest.

It´s not only about pitching the benefits of user centered design and research and it´s not just about support and money. It’s about finding the way to get partners in the organization on board about investing in usability and UX. So here are some tips which will set you off to a good start.

Start conversation from well-known KPIs: satisfaction, revenue, transactions

Make people understand “why”, before even talking about “how”. Think in terms of overall results, the scope. Maybe UX, IA, heuristics or card sorting doesn’t sound very glamorous or comprehensive, but if you mention clients’ happiness, satisfaction KPIs, revenue, transactions or even SEO, you are more likely to be understood and they will listen to you. Finally, even if it is vital for you to know how you will get to these wonderful results, your boss will be more interested about the general overview. He probably has his own…

Start the conversation from an emotional point of view. He´s a person too who is more likely to succeed in the organization if his leadership and his team´s effort together deliver good results.

Start testing at a small cost or no cost at all

Before asking your boss to invest in a huge testing and (re)designing project, try to identify problems with the actual interface and start collecting proof. Yes, it looks like police work but you need to collect evidence. Google Analytics can help you get quantitative data about user behaviour, conversions by traffic source, engagement metrics and so on.

For qualitative research purposes, start testing at a small cost or at no cost at all. Depending on your industry and how specific the core business is, costs can be relatively minimal when finding users who are willing to participate in some quick test. A new provider coming to a meeting, a business partner or your soccer mates are potentially willing to answer some questions and quick-test your interface. Ok, maybe it´s not such a good idea to ask your mother but you’ve got it, no need to look very far to get users. Remember, this is not a complete study, it´s just an exploratory way to gather feedback to then start working seriously.

Show results, even if they are small changes

Executives and companies love metrics and even more, they love results. A red KPI dashboard which starts getting green is a good sign. Let´s say your improvement or redesign initiative is not yet a project. You can start implementing small changes in order to get some results. If you are able to show these results, you are more willing to gain people’s confidence and your credibility will allow you to make decisions without always asking for permission.

Educate your boss and your peers

It´s easier, more interesting and challenging to engage in conversation with people on the same wavelength about a certain domain rather than to talk from a superior level. Start evangelizing about usability, UX, testing and so on with your peers in the organization. This is really the best you can do to educate them and to educate your boss. It can be something as simple as sharing industry reports, newsletters, or giving a short workshop about some introductory concepts as how to test, the kind of insight user research can show, how this can impact on conversion, web metrics and so on. The idea is to create moments to share, answer questions (most of the time behind a big NO, there are questions, an unknown territory and people being afraid to fail) and learn from others’ questions.

Work your patience

This is probably the most difficult part of it all if you want to make a drastic change and you want to start with you organization’s digital channels. Time, daily pressure to get those KPIs, your passion to simplify users’ life and get that conversion, don’t always fit with patience. A way of actively working on patience capacity is to see things get better. To get things better without much stress, start working on what is under your control. You don’t need much time or money. It is easy to implement and it generates impact. Results, even small ones, will give you arguments, proofs and satisfaction that things are going in the right direction.

Choose your battles

In one of his workshops, Eric Reiss said something like “you’ve lost the homepage battle, look for other opportunities”. It sounds though but it´s true. They all want to be on a home page (marketing, sales, stores, etc.) and we all know that a carrousel has more chances to confuse the user than to drive conversions. Trying to solve this at the beginning is starting with the most difficult battle. Put aside the carousel banner and focus on optimizing the rest of the website. Firstly, the home page is more than a carrousel. Secondly, a website is more than a home. If a big percentage of users get to the site by accessing the homepage every other page can be an entry point. So identify other relevant entry and landing pages for different kinds of conversions and start optimizing them in order to get results. When you are done, go back to point 3.

Find a sponsor

If you’ve managed to convince your boss that there´s a need for change and now you need help to start implementing it, you therefore need a sponsor. What is a sponsor? A sponsor is the person who can make decisions and can influence others in the organization to get things to work. You have to give your sponsor the tools and the information in order for him / her to justify you putting the money in the right place, or to justify the ROI. Your sponsor is your best partner.

It´s all about tactics. What other ways to make people and organizations embrace usability and UX did you use?