🪙 Users and business
#23: The art of finding a balance between two sides of the same coin
I'm sure you've often heard that designers’ noble mission: Designing products people love—from solving users' problems to adding cool and delightful elements.
Designers (read: Me) will do everything for users.
In reality, your discussions within a product team will also be about business—how you and your team can achieve the KPIs this quarter, increase conversion rates, find additional revenue streams, etc.
Business stakeholders will influence you to talk like a pirate: "AARRR…." (The growth framework by Dave McClure: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue).
But instead, I was more like: "AARRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!"
When the business comes up with an idea without considering the users
I have to admit that there were times I always demonized someone who came with a strong business perspective, made a jump to an idea, and believed that the answer could drive the metrics up.
I became even more irritated when they didn't have an answer to the question, "What problem are we solving for people here?"
One particularly frustrating conviction is when an idea is considered successful in other products, and people believe we can replicate that success.
I grew up seeing business as an opposition. Business always talks about conversion rate, metrics, KPIs, revenue, and you name it.
Well, I was so naive.
If the business didn't make money, how could they survive, pay my paycheck, provide bonuses, etc?
I’ve learned that as a designer, you should leave your ego at the door if you weren't a part of the feature discussion or if someone jumped to an idea conclusion based on their anecdotes.
It's alright. You know what? Sometimes product owners/managers feel uncomfortable with ambiguity and seek a quick remedy to support their KPIs. Their lives depend on KPIs—at least for those who confessed their feelings to me.
So, how can you help them complete the other side they don't have?—yes, the users.
You can help them see the other side by completing the missing pieces, sharing insights about users, and connecting the dots between what the business wants to achieve and what users need.
Deep dive into these questions with stakeholders:
Who are actually our users?
What are their pain points?
What outcome do our users expect?
This tool can help you crystallize the problem that explores both business and user sides.
When you have insights about users, you know their pain points and problems but can't see the business value yet.
Designers naturally empathize with users, grasp their pain points, and find solutions to their problems. However, problems will always exist; even when one is solved, another arises.
Understanding user problems is only half of the story. The other half involves understanding the VALUE of addressing the problem and finding the WHY it is necessary for your team to solve the problem:
What difference does addressing the issue make? (Impact)
How many users will be impacted? (Reach)
How much effort is required to work on this problem? (Effort)
By understanding the effort, impact, and reach, you can prioritize which problems are worth solving for you next.
You can't separate business from the equation. Users and businesses are two sides of the same coin.
Although you can neglect the business side and focus solely on your users and craft, the consequence is that you might miss the big picture.
Knowing only one side of the story can make you subjective, inconsiderate, and shortsighted. By obtaining the complete story from both sides, you can provide a more objective and holistic solution.
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