There are plenty of myths surrounding the Northern Lights. We see amazing photos of it online, expecting the same effect and mesmerizing green sky when we lookup. However, you might need to gaze for quite some time, know where to look for it, find the right location, clear cloudless sky and be patient. Doesn’t sound that simple, right?

A similar process happens when you try to measure the impact of User Experience – it is not that obvious from the beginning and you need a clear user-centered mindset to measure it in the right way. In this blog post, I want to dispel a few clouds surrounding the value of great UX.

It’s a game of patience and persistence.

Balance the “qual” and the “quant”

Firstly, it is important to understand that user experience is measured in both: qualitative and quantitative data. The combination of both is crucial.

Quantitative research is designed to gather data points in measurable, numerical form (conversions, bounce rates, page visits, etc.). Qualitative research relies on the observation and collection of insights that are not measurable in numbers, but rather opinions, motivations, feedback and sentiment. The truth is that data alone cannot answer all the questions. Numbers just give us security and comfort – because they seem to communicate absolute truths. Insights get “why” people are behaving in a certain way.

A perfect example of balancing the qual and the quant is It has always been a super data-driven business, but recently they have realized that there is not only hard data in clicks and bookings. That’s why they have added a guideline of “informed by data, driven by empathy” in their design guidelines. Data is just a first step in the measure of their UX efforts.

Think long term

As an e-commerce manager, you’ve probably invested a lot of resources in development, marketing channels, conversion optimization. But when was the last time you have asked yourself questions like “How easy is for users to find what they are looking for on our website? What frustrates them? How do they feel?”

One of the most difficult parts of calculating return on investment from UX efforts is to show causation with revenue beyond basic metrics. The value you get by thinking about the usability, accessibility, user needs, and their happiness is not a quick win.

“Data can tell us what’s happening, but it doesn’t tell us why.”

If we ask marketers, for example, they always talk about the importance of brand and user experience takes a large part in determining whether a brand is compelling. Therefore, it is important to understand that UX has a lot of indirect impact on revenue: fewer calls to your customer support, better product and development efficiency, brand consistency and even employee retention. When a company commits fully to user experience – it satisfies a deeper desire to be part of something extraordinary. Maybe that’s why it is so hard to hire employees away from companies such as Tesla, Apple or Google.

Luckily to all doubters, there is a great Mckinsey study on the value of design and the long-term effect. The results were impressive: companies with the top-quartile MDI scores outperformed industry-benchmark growth by as much as two to one, increasing their revenues and total returns to shareholders significantly faster than their counterparts. And this wasn’t an isolated incident—these results appeared in all three industries that were studied (medical technology, consumer goods, and retail banking).

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Mckinsey’s research leads to the same conclusion that good design and good UX pays off. Customer-centric design is a way forward both: financially and experience-wise.

Creating value and making users happy is not an easy goal. Measuring the impact on it is even more complex. While there are many companies that have succeeded, there is a long milky way ahead to build the right mindset. Maybe that’s why you cannot see northern lights everywhere and just the ones who want and try to see discover the beauty of it.

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