What Is UX Strategy? Mapping the Path to Success

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about this critical component of UX design.

[Featured image] A smiling UX strategist in an orange shirt stands with their arms crossed next to their desk in a design office

User experience (UX) design involves the creation of a digital product. UX strategy provides the plan. A UX strategy is a detailed plan to align a company’s brand identity with the desired user experience at every customer touchpoint. To be most effective, this plan should be in place 

before design even begins.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what defines UX strategy, why it’s an important skill to have as a UX designer, and how to develop a successful UX strategy for whatever product or service you’re designing. 


Four tenets of UX strategy 

In her 2015 book “UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products That People Want,” Jaime Levy defines four tenets of UX strategy—key elements that work in harmony to make a strategy effective.

  1. Business strategy: This concerns the ultimate goals of the company, such as how it will position itself to make money, what is its competitive advantage, and who is its target audience. Every successful UX strategy should fit within the company’s path toward profitability. 

  1. Value innovation: Companies achieve value innovation by pursuing value for customers (differentiation) and lower costs for the company simultaneously. 

  1. Validated user research: Instead of assuming what is valuable to a customer, get direct input from your target users before starting a design. This saves designers and companies from putting time, money, and effort into a product no one actually wants.  

  1. Killer UX design: The final tenet of UX strategy involves developing and implementing a user experience tailored to the product’s or service’s key features. The best UX comes from a design that delivers what users want seamlessly. 

Why is UX strategy important? 

A solid UX strategy ensures your product team stays focused on solving the issues for target users. Once you’ve taken the time to craft an informed UX strategy, you will find it yields several benefits.

  • It gets executives excited. A good UX strategy ties user experience directly to business objectives, helping leadership see its value. 

  • It connects business goals to user needs. UX helps prioritise workflows and resource allocation. 

  • It defines success metrics. When your team knows what success looks like (and how to measure it), it’s easier to achieve. You can aim for a specific goal instead of just blindly moving forward.

  • It creates a user-first mentality. Validated user research helps UX team members better understand the user, including their pain points and goals.

  • It brings everything together. UX strategy reminds you to step back and look at all the ways a user interacts with your product or brand. 

How to create a UX strategy

Whether you’re planning to start a career in UX or are already working as a UX designer, the ability to craft an effective UX strategy can be a valuable (and marketable) skill. Before you start your next design project, walk through these steps to build your UX strategy.

1. Define the business strategy through stakeholder interviews.

Get the decision-makers and company leaders involved early in your project. As a UX designer, you’re often focused squarely on the user, and rightfully so. However, now is the time to shift your attention to the business side. 

How is the product you’re designing positioned in the marketplace? What are the company’s high-level goals and objectives? How are stakeholders measuring the success of the product? 

Answering these questions early in the process ensures that when you turn your attention toward the user, you’re doing so with the brand and business in mind.

2. Identify differentiation points. 

Once you know how to align your design with the company brand and strategy, you assess where the product lies in the competitive landscape. You’ll have to offer value to get a user to start using your product. Where will that value come from? What’s your competitive advantage? 

Research what’s already on the market to solve this user need, and think about the key features that will set your design apart from other options.

3. Keep your focus on users.  

An effective UX strategy leads to a product that users will find easy and enjoyable. Soliciting user feedback early helps ensure that you remain on track. 

Use surveys, A/B tests, interviews, or field studies to uncover users’ preferences. Once you have user data, make sure that your strategy reflects it. If your product isn’t delivering what the data reveals, take a step back and rethink your product. 

4. Set specific design goals to get where you want to be.

Knowing where you want to go is just as important as knowing where you are now. Using the data you’ve gathered from both users and stakeholders, define some specific metrics by which to gauge the success of your design. Be clear about what you want to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and how you’ll know if and when you have.

5. Experiment and iterate. 

Creating a product users love often relies on creative solutions and innovative ideas. Structured experiments allow you a chance to try new things and fail. As your strategy progresses, incorporate time to create multiple minimum viable products (MVP) and test them with users. Let their feedback guide future iterations by building upon positive feedback. 

How can you become a UX strategist?

As more and more companies begin to recognise the value of thoughtful UX design, the roles involved in UX are becoming more differentiated. One of those specialised roles is that of UX strategist. As a UX strategist, you serve as a liaison between the business and the user by helping the design team create user-focused products that fit the company strategy and brand identity.

To be an effective UX strategist, you’ll need to develop skills in these areas: 

  • UX research: Having a good grasp of qualitative and quantitative research methods ensures you’re able to validate your strategy.

  • Design thinking: A strong foundation in UX design can help you approach UX problems more efficiently and effectively. 

  • Communication: From talking with users to interviewing internal stakeholders, one of the significant parts of UX strategy is communication. 

  • Leadership: Achieving buy-in from your team and ensuring everyone sticks to the UX strategy takes strong leadership skills. 

  • Business acumen: Understanding business strategy empowers you to bridge the gap between the user and the company.

Get started with Coursera 

If you’re considering starting a career in UX or want to advance your skills, consider the Google UX Design Professional Certificate on Coursera. This programme is designed for beginners with no prior experience to help you build in-demand job skills. Learners can complete the program in six months and graduate with a certificate and a professional portfolio comprising three completed projects, including a mobile app, a responsive website, and a cross-platform experience. 

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