Company goals vs. user goals

6 Aug 2009 - 11:18am
5 years ago
12 replies
890 reads
Melissa Casburn
2008

I'm a firm believer in strategy and UX as products of the intersection between business needs and user needs. People don't use a brand or a product just because you want them to. They use things and ideas that advance their own goals. A smart company doesn't look for problems that fit its solutions; it designs solutions to existing problems.

This applies to your website as much as it does to your core product/service offering. A website that gets in their way (instead of being intuitive) gets abandoned if other low-barrier options exist.

If your boss is analytics-driven, put that to work in your favor:
1. Test the site design and walk him through the test results.
2. Have him observe paper or online testing in a lab environment so he can witness the frustration.
3. Give him concrete examples of user frustration & abandonment caused by business-centric design; solicit his own frustrating experiences to generate empathy.
4. If you have an A/B or multivariate test platform, put it to use on nav variants and report back with results. Google Web Optimizer is free...
5. You might consider a SWOT or other type of competitive analysis to evaluate the real cost of abandonment to the business; it's hard for me to comment on this in detail as I don't know what your company does or how it's positioned.

Hope that's helpful.
Melissa

Comments

6 Aug 2009 - 12:57pm
Audrey Crane
2009

Do you have a list of company goals? And a list of research-based
customer goals? Seems simple, but showing him those two lists...
Well, you must have tried that.

A nice way to show alignment of two lists of goals is an example
that's in The User is Always Right by Steve Mulder. He uses it for
features but I prefer to use it for tasks. Put the users goals in a
list in the left column. In the right column, put company goals as
they might align with users goals. So for example, if a users goal is
to "Keep track of their research in one place," a company goal might
be to "Create repeat traffic." Then in the middle, describe the
feature (or task) that might bridge the two. So for example, "Save
research on the site so it's easy to find and add to."

You might repeat company goals more than once b/c they might align to
more than one user goal.

Your VP may be resistant because the mismatch might be scary to
him/her, but if you show how they can work together to lead to new
ideas or improvements, that might help you sell the idea that
they're not the same...

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6 Aug 2009 - 4:35pm
Anonymous

Thanks to all of you who responded. It was good to hear that my
notions of this topic were definitely not off-base. And, it was good
to get your comments about how to negotiate this difficult territory.

The common element to all your comments is to turn the language of
what I'm saying around to make it sound like it's purely to benefit
the company (which, really it ultimately is). So, thanks :)

What I've come to realize while reading your responses and mulling
it over a bit more is that our VP, as well as many in our
organization, honestly - in their hearts - feel that what the company
is doing on the website is exactly what our visitors want/expect.
Whether that is the case or not, I cannot say, as we do not have any
research beyond our reliance on things like Web Trends to tell us
what is working and what's not.

I've learned that we are sort of haphazardly setup (I am the sole UX
person (and I'm not a natural evangelist, so that's tough). Good
news, though, is that though our VP is fairly new to the web (he
comes from a traditional marketing bg), he is seeking the best and
brightest in our field to consult with. So, that will help
tremendously.

Best to all!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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6 Aug 2009 - 5:12pm
Chauncey Wilson
2007

A very good reference for this topic is the book by Karen Donoghue (2003):

Built for Use: Driving Profitability Through the User Experience

The book deals with the relationship between business goals and user
experience goals. Someone mentioned a matrix in the book by Steve
Mulder. There is a similar one (more detailed perhaps) in Donoghue.
The matrix is something like the one below

Business Goal Tasks that support Product feature Experience
Best Practices User Interface Metrics Testing Plan &
& Success metric business goal that supports Goal

Acceptance
business
goal
Criteria

Business goals/success metrics would be things like Increase revenues
by 30%; increase customer satisfaction by 10% over last year; increase
customer loyalty; promote new brand image

Experience goals might related to efficiency, reduced errors, reduced
learning, improved consistency, etc.
Best practices might related to patterns, style guides, or the best
way to provide a good interaction. The user interface might specify
the general approach that you intend to follow (or major options).
For example, you might use tabs or menus to highlight features. The
metrics would be what you measure to see if you meet your experience
goals; learning time reduction over trials, success rates, time on
task, number of errors, the last column notes that the minimum level
of a metric (e.g., success rate) is acceptable given your business and
experience goals.

If you can trace through this matrix, you can relate business goals
all the way down to individual features and ensure that you are
designing and building something that is in line with your business
and user experience goals.

Chauncey

On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 11:35 AM, jennifer wolfgang<chicgeek75 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Thanks to all of you who responded. It was good to hear that my
> notions of this topic were definitely not off-base. And, it was good
> to get your comments about how to negotiate this difficult territory.
>
> The common element to all your comments is to turn the language of
> what I'm saying around to make it sound like it's purely to benefit
> the company (which, really it ultimately is). So, thanks :)
>
> What I've come to realize while reading your responses and mulling
> it over a bit more is that our VP, as well as many in our
> organization, honestly - in their hearts - feel that what the company
> is doing on the website is exactly what our visitors want/expect.
> Whether that is the case or not, I cannot say, as we do not have any
> research beyond our reliance on things like Web Trends to tell us
> what is working and what's not.
>
> I've learned that we are sort of haphazardly setup (I am the sole UX
> person (and I'm not a natural evangelist, so that's tough). Good
> news, though, is that though our VP is fairly new to the web (he
> comes from a traditional marketing bg), he is seeking the best and
> brightest in our field to consult with. So, that will help
> tremendously.
>
> Best to all!
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44399
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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7 Aug 2009 - 6:00am
jasonrobb
2009

Hi Jennifer,

You're in a challenging position. Another thing to keep in mind is
that you might be able to convince your Bosses the right thing to do
is talk to your users directly to find their goals. I'm not being
discouraging, because it's helpful to keep in mind as you try to
sway them.

I'll point you to two articles, which explain in general how the
market maturity determines the importance placed on design. We just
read these at the UX Book Club Boston. It's food for thought:

1. Investing in Design by Jess McMullin --
http://nform.ca/publications/investing-in-design

2. Deriving Design Strategy from Market Maturity by Jared Spool --
http://www.uie.com/articles/derivingdesignstrategy/

Good luck with convincing your bosses that your customers want
different things than they do, and have hope you'll make that
difference clear.

Cheers,

Jason R.

--

Jason Robb
Jason at jasonrobb.com
www.jasonrobb.com
www.uxboston.com
http://uiscraps.tumblr.com

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6 Aug 2009 - 1:06pm
Paul Adam
2009

How would users even access the links in the drop down if JavaScript is
disabled then? They need to at least be able to click on the hover element
and be sent to a list of the links that would have shown in the dropdown. I
would show them the site with JavaScript disabled. If they want some data to
go by I would do some simple usability tests and some surveys from the
site's users.

For the new website I'm working on at our university I won't be using drop
downs at all since people always want to add something to them which
increases the clutter/confusion.

If they want people to click on certain links put them on the homepage as
calls to action and use a button or color to get their attention.

Just some thoughts, not sure if I'm understanding the problem completely or
if you're even using JavaScript for the dropdowns.

On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 4:18 AM, jennifer wolfgang <chicgeek75 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi all -
>
> I'm having a difficult time reaching my VP about the difference
> between what we decide are the goals of the company via the website
> versus what the people who visit our site (our users) hope to
> accomplish.
>
> He feels that this is just a matter of language and that there is not
> in fact a difference. I feel - in over 11 years of web user-interface
> design - that there is a difference. To me, it's like the difference
> between the hard-sell salesperson who is obviously trying only to make
> the sale versus the salesperson who allows people to navigate the
> offerings with guidance along the way.
>
> An example of something I believe our site reflects as the
> 'company' goals is our global navigation:
>
> We have roll-over drop-down menus (horizontal). The "tab" that one
> rolls over is not clickable to a main page. The links in the
> drop-downs were determined by the various stakeholders as to what are
> "the most important links" that *we* want people to get to. In fact,
> when I raised the issue that people are frustrated that they cannot
> click the main tab (getting a LOT of negative feedback on this), the
> VPs response was that "we want to force users to use those menus";
> thus, he simply had the development team remove the hand cursor that
> appear on rollover of the main tab.
>
> Anyway, that may have been a bit of a vent/rant, but it is a good
> example of what I'm struggling with here.
>
> So, what are your thoughts on the difference between company goals
> and user goals? Is there even one?
>
> Now, I will say that I feel that a balance should be struck.
>
> Also, if you have recommendations of how to approach this topic with
> him, I'll add that my VP is extremely metrics/analytics-driven; to
> the point that he wants us to have a 'performance driven design'
> approach to the site...
>
> Comments? Ideas?
>
> Thanks!
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Reply to this thread at ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=44399
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

7 Aug 2009 - 10:26am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 6 Aug 2009, at 15:35, jennifer wolfgang wrote:
[snip]
> What I've come to realize while reading your responses and mulling
> it over a bit more is that our VP, as well as many in our
> organization, honestly - in their hearts - feel that what the company
> is doing on the website is exactly what our visitors want/expect.
[snip]

It's a classic mistake. Leading to all those terrible web sites where
the site navigation is basically the company's org chart.

The absolutely best way I've ever come across for convincing folk in
this situation is to get some real customers into the office, put them
in front of the web site and record/show management what actually
happens when they try and use it.

Needn't cost a lot in time and effort. An edited highlight reel that
includes all of the swearing is especially effective. Don't treat it
as user testing. Treat it as propaganda.

Cheers,

Adrian
--
http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh

7 Aug 2009 - 1:18pm
Juan Lanus
2005

Adrian is right:
On Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 13:26, Adrian Howard <adrianh at quietstars.com> wrote:

>
> It's a classic mistake. Leading to all those terrible web sites where the
> site navigation is basically the company's org chart.

Yes, the business view (not goals) is by management area.
But the users, to satisfy their needs, will consume products and services
across the areas and will trespass the boundaries at will.

For example when you go to a restaurant you order a dish that is made with
ingredients that come form different areas (bakery, grocery, butcher, ...).
It would be weird if you were presented the menu in a way so that you had to
be aware of the origin of the ingredients and had to order them from each
specific supplier (or area).
Yes, the "areas" exist, but the clients could't care less: they want the
Whopper with all its ingredients no matter where they come from.

Saludos!
--
Juan Lanus

8 Aug 2009 - 3:15am
dszuc
2005

User and business goals should be closely aligned and there should be
alignment amongst the stakeholders in the company. Often, there
isn't so people go with whatever they feel is right.

Suggestion: you may want to take 2-3 business goals and key user
journeys on the web site and see how both could be improved i.e.
assess current metrics, understand business/user needs, make
changes/tweaks to the design and assess if there are improvements.

If you can demonstrate the improvements/success on few key journeys
you can scale this up to other stuff.

Note - these do not have to be big changes.

You may also want to revisit what you know about your users now and
what you need to learn more about to continue to communicate this to
your VP etc This opens the conversation to not just personal opinions
but informed design as you go along.

rdgs,
Dan

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8 Aug 2009 - 9:30am
Alla Zollers
2008

Although you may feel like the entire website needs significant rework
at the moment to balance out both use and business needs, as a first
step I would suggest is making a small change. Develop metrics on how
you will determine if the change was successful for both users and the
business. In this respect I would recommend some kind of analytical
metric since it will help you speak your VPs language. Once the VP
sees that design truly does have effect on the business, they will
(hopefully) provide you with more freedom to take on bigger and
bigger changes.

In essence: start small, speak the language, be strategic!

Best,
Alla

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10 Aug 2009 - 8:41am
Paul Bryan
2008

If you have data that shows customers are frustrated with an aspect of
the design, and yet the chief stakeholders choose to persist with that
design, then the fundamental problem is not usability but education.

I agree with Alla above that instead of advocating sweeping changes
of the UX design process, which may strike fear into the heart of
execs, pinpoint one area where there is a tangible cost to the
company, try to quantify it, support it with analytics or other data
to the extent you can, and then propose the way forward to a more
successful design with cost-effective iterations.

Paul Bryan
Principal Consultant, Usography Corporation

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10 Aug 2009 - 7:50pm
dszuc
2005

"fundamental problem is not usability but education."

Yes and it may also be a problem of "culture" and "values"

See:

http://www.dmi.org/dmi/html/publications/news/viewpoints/connect_vp_sp.htm

http://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664

http://johnnyholland.org/magazine/2009/08/value/

rgds,
Dan

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15 Aug 2009 - 1:39am
Anirudha Joshi
2003

Hello Jennifer,

> So, what are your thoughts on the difference between company goals
> and user goals? Is there even one? Now, I will say that I feel that a balance should be struck.
>
> Also, if you have recommendations of how to approach this topic with
> him, I'll add that my VP is extremely metrics/analytics-driven; to
> the point that he wants us to have a 'performance driven design'
> approach to the site...
>
> Comments? Ideas?

What a coincidence. I wrote up a paper on a "Goal Setting Tool" that
has been accepted at a workshop in Interact 2009 next week, so I might
as well plug it here :).
http://wwwswt.informatik.uni-rostock.de/EVAL/ (our program link is
still under construction, but we should have our papers online in a
few days). In the paper, I breifly differentiate between user goals,
business goals and product goals. The rest of the paper is about
evaluation of the tool.

The goal setting tool itself is available at
http://www.idc.iitb.ac.in/~anirudha/pdfs/usability%20goals%20setting%20tool%203.1.pdf
. (It's still in a paper version)

If you care more about metrics, the goal setting tool also dovetails
into a usability goal achievement metric
http://ftp.informatik.rwth-aachen.de/Publications/CEUR-WS/Vol-407/paper9.pdf

I think your boss might like these, but more importantly, I hope you
find it useful. Use what you need and do let me know your feedback.
(if you needed MS Excel templates to collect data, i could mail those
to you offline). Thanks.

Anirudha

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