UX Strategy Means Business: Jared Spool at An Event Apart Seattle

It’s hard to pay attention when you get to the last speaker of the day at a conference, but luckily Jared Spool‘s talks are always half comedy routine. His opening line: “I realize that I am the only thing between you and drinks.”

His presentation really hit home that we need to rethink “UX Strategy.” It needs to be the same thing as business strategy. Creating useful and delightful content must be the first and primary consideration, with a thoughtful business model that generates the revenue from that content.

“I just want to do UX Strategy.”

  • Design is the rendering of intent.
  • As designers, we take content and bring it to the forefront to meet the user’s and business’s needs.
  • Content and user experience are inseparable.
  • Strategy is used to achieve a desired outcome.
  • But UX strategy as an isolated field is broken.
  • The best UX strategists work at the intersection of business and design.

Designing Business Models

  • Great business models are designed.
  • Business strategic priorities of executives:
    • Increase revenue
    • Decrease cost
    • Increase new business
    • Increase existing business
    • Increase shareholder value
  • When designers learn to speak to these things, business leaders will listen. Repeating a theme from earlier speakers today, it’s all about empathy for their desires and needs.
  • We should be thinking outside of pixels, and toward larger product and business strategies. Designers should be informing business leaders of the best ways to use the great products we’re designing to achieve their business goals.

Advertising is a business model failure

  • Advertising disrupts the users’ experience to supposedly benefit the advertiser.
  • Example: dictionary.com: The audience here got to play “Find the Content” looking at a screenshot. The ads literally filled 80% of the screen, and the content was buried in the bottom center.
  • The reality, though, is that users don’t intentionally click on banner ads. Even when they’re hysterical, it doesn’t mean we’ll buy their product, or change our minds about their brand.
  • When you don’t pay for the product, you are the product (ahem, Facebook).
  • The only one of the key business goals that advertising accomplishes is to increase revenue slightly, and only for the short term.
  • The one condition where advertising will work is when the user has entered a “seducible moment,” one where they’ve absorbed good content, and the ad ties directly to the content itself. It’s extremely hard to make this work.
  • Advertising should be the business model of last resort.

Other business models

  • Metered paywall has shown to be a successful way to earn consistent revenue. Users get a certain amount free, and as they grow to love the service, they purchase it. Example: NYTimes.com
  • Metered paywalls demand excellent content. It can’t just be the same as everything else available for free.
  • Repurposed content: repackaged blog posts as a book, etc.
  • In-app purchases
  • Supporting product sales: iFixIt, Etsy
  • Alternative channel revenue: CDs don’t make much money, so go on the road and make it on tour
  • Content distribution: own the device, sell the content (Kindle, iTunes)

Delightful content adds real value

  • All business strategy starts with delightful content.
  • Then you can decide on a business model, and earn revenue.
  • Without the best possible content, you cannot have a successful business model that meets the primary business objectives.