The word “efficiency” in connection with UX (user experience) is usually associated with the result: how much more efficiently people will perform their daily tasks using digital products designed accordingly.
But the link between efficiency and UX starts much earlier. To be more precise, it starts at the very beginning of a project’s design. At that point, it is essential to understand what impact the application to be developed will have, what its goals are, how many resources are available to achieve them, what skills each team member has, and, of course, where we stand. Collecting this data is the first step to ensuring the highest efficiency level.
A simple and clear example: if the need is to launch a digital product as quickly as possible and to surpass the 10,000-user threshold in the first month. Then, UX will align itself with total clarity to the business need: simplify the onboarding process and make it attractive, easy to use, and effective.
Strategies and methodologies
Then it will be necessary to select the appropriate strategies and methodologies for the needs identified. If the customer needs to go live in two weeks and you have a methodology that requires four months to get to a prototype, then you need to look for another alternative. Getting the timing right is also about efficiency.
The same goes for sizing: it is essential to strike a balance between the needs of the customer – the company developing the digital product – and the users – those who will use the application. Often there are divergences between business needs (“increase customer retention”) and user needs (“it’s difficult to navigate”). The effective UX designer does not place the burden absolutely on one extreme or the other but must strike the right balance to satisfy both sides as much as possible. The UX role naturally migrates to becoming a product designer to promote this balance.
What are the risks of inefficiency in the development process? On the one hand, it takes longer. On the other hand, the UX designer can digress. In the previous example, it would deliver a perfect browsing experience while neglecting aspects that make timing critical, such as impacting the market at the right time or not having well-distributed efforts to meet other business needs, or vice versa.
From user advocate to the business pillar
UX, as a discipline, has significantly evolved in recent years. In the beginning, it was a kind of “user’s advocate” approach focusing on the user and trying to convince the business of the best way forward. Today, it starts with the business need and an analysis of how it will impact users. User needs that are not a priority for the business are not part of the initial discussion.
Then comes a higher level that emerges as the parties gain trust. This level is linked to the product designer concept mentioned above: recommendations from the UX designer to the C-level of the client company about features that could be incorporated to improve results.
From the end user’s point of view, efficiency is defined as the ability to solve their needs correctly in the shortest possible time. If one digital bank requires its users to go through twelve steps to make a transfer, and another solves it in five, the second is more efficient than the first. But be careful: this leap in efficiency should not come at the expense of the quality of the experience but from points of improvement or shortcuts in the user’s journey.
Efficiency at every step
A complex digital platform usually does multiple tasks. Each of them, which is aligned to a business objective (in the case of digital banking, sending money, withdrawing money, changing customer profile, investment options, deposits, and payments), must pass through this sieve until it is so efficient that the user’s task is reduced to the minimum expression. For this to happen, the UX task is arduous and involves numerous questions and discovery strategies: questions to users (what is the context in which they use the application, what are the tasks they perform, what obstacles do they encounter, are they in a physical place or do they move and use mobile devices), questions to business managers (how does the application help with growth, profitability, what are the key points), iterations, fine-tuning…
Efficiency in UX is money: meetings are held with the right people only when necessary, and developments do not have to be redone from scratch because of perception defects, or because we have relied on intuition or chance. And, best of all, nothing makes our competitors more nervous than knowing that we are doing the right things for our customers.