Business Goals vs. User Goals

Disclaimer — For this article I’ll be outlining business goals and user goals under the framework of a web design project. The overall concept exists in product design as well, but the context here, is based on a web design project.

Business goals and user goals often wage a war against each other during a web design project. This actually is true for products as well. Also, this is most likely where you’re most familiar with a business goal and a user goal.

An example of this, would be anytime you see a pop-up on a website that asks you for your email address to sign up for a newsletter. Most of the time, you’re already doing something on the website with a particular goal in mind. You probably don’t want to add your email address to this company’s newsletter, but it shown to you anyway, why? This is done to achieve a business goal, and it’s happening at the expense of your goal(s) when you are on this website. Maybe your goal is to read a recipe for something you’re making or to figure out how to update to the latest version of software. Whatever it is, it certainly was not your goal to have your screen taken over by a pop-up, that is asking you to enter your email address.

ui-patterns.com

As a UX Designer your job is to be an advocate for the user. This isn’t something that your client thinks they are paying you for, and frankly do not value. What your client values is your ability to help them achieve their business goals. However, quite often they will suggest ways of achieving their business goals that disrupt the goals of the user.

It is up to the UX Designer to manage both the business goals and the user goals. For the business goals, you want to show the client that you are providing the type of value they expected when they hired you. And you want to advocate for the user to create the best user experience possible. It is actually in the best interest of the client , that the user have the best experience possible.


Over the last 10 years we’ve seen a switch of what we consider a premium product or service. Previously we would rely on metrics and statistics, how fast is it, how small is it, how powerful is it. Now, we asked how easy is it to use. How quickly can I learn how to use this? If something is extremely easy to set up, such as an Amazon Fire TV we assume that the quality is very high, even if the metrics and statistics tell us otherwise.

This is a really hard sell to your clients , that is why I would suggest not trying to sell it. The best way to provide an exceptional experience to your users is to create intuitive designs that achieve your client’s business goals. That way, even if the business goal lends itself to obtrusive mechanisms such as the pop-up we can design new conventions that achieve the business goal and maintain respect for the user.

Credit : Google Webmaster Tools

If your client has rejected some of your less intrusive design mechanisms and continues to ask for the equivalent of the pop-up, I would suggest doing some research and presenting some unbiased data as to why your solution works best. It works best if you are able to tie something that is really important to them and show how the more intrusive design mechanism disrupts what is really important to them. For example, most clients ask for the pop-up. And before recently the only response that an agency could give as to why the pop-up is a bad experience is simply saying it’s a bad experience for the user. That’s never really been enough. But now, Google has released an article stating that pop-ups on your website will negatively affect your SEO ranking. And if there’s one thing that I do know, its that clients care most about their SEO ranking.


This article is an excerpt from my course on Pluralsight, UX Design for Graphic Designers. Check it out if you want to learn about more aspects of UX Design.

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