Data-Driven Design: How to Get Stakeholders’ Support?
Previously we wrote about the importance of data-driven design. We explained what it is and what value it can create. Also, we addressed some misconceptions about data-driven design.
The data-driven design process is backed by evidence about the users, which is the central pillar in creating a user-centric design. As we have shown, this customer-oriented and data-based approach to the design can create significant value for your business.
Despite that, the data-driven design is often misunderstood, and its implementation may create a lot of friction in a company. You may face some resistance from the stakeholders who may have a different opinion. Suppose the designer can create a decent design all by himself without any data, and revenue is flowing. Why bother with all the research, analysis, data interpretation and additional people for all of that?
Thus, it can be challenging to get stakeholders on board with this concept of data-driven design. That’s why we prepared some tips to make it easier for you.
Explain the basics and provide context
First of all, if you want to get stakeholders’ support for your vision of a data-driven design approach, you need to make sure that they clearly understand what a data-driven approach means. One of the essential points to address is what counts as “data.”
Usually, when most people think about data, they think about numbers. It is especially true if they are not too familiar with UX research. But some information you can’t express in numbers. Sometimes it comes as opinions, observations or feelings.
You can think of data more like evidence. A good chunk of it comes as numerical data and gives answers on What, When, Where and How often. Although this quantitative data is highly valuable, it can’t answer why people behave that way.
We need to tap into qualitative research to get insights into the motivations of the user. By observing users, listening to their opinions and empathizing with them, we can bring to the table that missing piece of information which can be a game-changer.
That’s why we should treat this less tangible and less structured information with the same respect as numerical data. Take time to make sure that you and stakeholders are on the same page about this.
Also, you can’t treat data as unquestionable truth. Even though data provides us evidence about customer behavior, we need to remember that this is just a partial representation of their experience. No matter how big your data is, we are talking about one or a few aspects of the whole story. And to see the complete view, we need to broaden and diversify data. Consider including as many different data sources as you can, and even then, keep in mind that this is an approximation of user experience rather than the ultimate truth.
Having this conversation with stakeholders about what we can and can’t accomplish with data is necessary for the successful implementation of a data-driven design approach.
Show data-driven design value for business
While many companies still don’t see the design as a priority, facts suggest that they should. Take a look at the DMI Design Value Index that includes a list of carefully selected design-led publicly traded US companies. As the graph below shows, companies who make design a priority over the ten years outperformed S&P index companies in the stock market by an outstanding 228%.
If a design can make such a difference, make sure to back it with data, not just guesswork and intuition. Research supports this notion that a data-driven approach can give you a business advantage.
As Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson from MIT stated in Harvard Business Review:
“Companies in the top third of their industry in the use of data-driven decision making were, on average, 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors.”
Moreover, data-driven design principles can help increase the productivity of designers. User research and some testing can decrease the number of iterations and revisions needed to finish the design. So, a designer can do more in the same amount of time.
It’s quite clear that by understanding the importance of design and integrating data-driven philosophy as the core principle of your company’s work, there’s a lot to gain in the long term.
Show success cases
When you try to convince stakeholders to adopt the data-driven design, you may want to use success cases to demonstrate the return of investment (ROI) value of data-driven UX research methods. It’s easier to sell the idea when you show how others benefited from evidence-based practices.
Let the facts speak for themselves. It’s hard to be ignorant about data-driven design when you see what value it can create.
There is an Asian proverb: “It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” We can apply this idea when talking to the stakeholders.
People tend to digest information better when you present it in a few different ways. A 2016 study shows that having visuals when introducing new information helps people to absorb information.
As researchers conclude in that study:
“Creating visual explanations had greater benefits than those accruing from creating verbal ones.”
So, consider including some visualizations and diagrams when preparing your presentation for stakeholders. A few convincing graphs can go a long way.
With time the data-driven design is going to become even more popular, and it is here to stay. So the best strategy is to embrace this evidence-based approach to the design and also help stakeholders see the value it can create for the business in this digital age.