How UX can get the budget they want


If you want to get bigger budgets for your UX work, you have to look at the problem from the eyes of your manager and even their manager.  Just as you look at interfaces from the point of view of your users, what angle is your boss looking at the problem from?  And what is your hook that will make them sit up and listen to you?  An exit rate of 10% due to poorly formatted error messages and form fields? Or $2 million dollars in lost revenue?  Which is more compelling to your manager?  You have to frame your arguments in terms that will appeal to your boss, or face always feeling like they are never listening and you are not getting the budgets you deserve.

The Problem

Each time I visit a conference I hear the same problems faced by UX professionals.  Not the never ending search for a perfect interface, the perfect user flow, or a usability test that passes without incident.  Most commonly it is “If I could only get the budget, my CEO just doesn’t listen to me in meetings, they seem to switch off and just don’t understand my point of view”.  In the majority of cases this is probably your problem, not theirs.  Successfully pitching your ideas and making your managers, and their managers buy into the UX problems on your site is essential in getting sign off for your projects.

An Example

Imagine you are responsible for the sign up process for companies registering to use your web app.  You have a 5 step form, which has a reasonably high exit rate on each step.  However, you are still getting a high volume of signs ups to your sites and your manager doesn’t want to invest in improving it.  How do you pitch to get funds to improve the web form and decrease exit rates?  Here is how to do it.

The Hook

Often referred to as your elevator or 3 second pitch, but ultimately means being able to explain the value you will bring to the company in 1 sentence.  Your manager will be fielding requests from staff, and from their own managers and have limited time.  Don’t setup a long presentation, if you cannot also deliver an effective hook.  Why should they give you some of their valuable time?  In this example, because you can help save the company $2 million in lost revenue.

Break it down

If you want to affect change you have to first understand the goals of the business and the KPIs of your manager and of the company.  How are they being measured?  What is the company trying to achieve this year?  Once you understand this, you can then frame the value you are delivering (or want to deliver) in these terms.  That way you are immediately appealing to something your manager understands.

It is no good telling them in a meeting that the existing sign up form gives a terrible user experience and error messages are poorly aligned and the copy needs improving.  They won’t care and will already be fiddling with their blackberry.  Frame it in your managers language;

  • 24% drop out rate across the 5 step process
  • On average, that equates to 1000 customers per month, lost
  • Scaled across the 10 international sites you run, that’s 10,000 customer per month, lost
  • Or 120,000 customer per year
  • A customers average lifetime value to the business is $20
  • $20 x 120,000 is $2.4M in lost revenue per year

Go into a meeting and concisely break down the tangible affect the poor UX is having on the business in these terms and your manager will listen.

The Close

Make sure you are prepared with your solution, again using your managers language.  Don’t give them the intimate details of how you will change the error message alignment (Unless of course they actually ask, if so be visual check out my post on pitching UX creatively to affect change) as they likely won’t care and probably don’t understand.  Be positive and again break it down for them;

  • 8 week project timeline from testing to production
  • Cost $200,000
  • Ready to start work in 2 weeks

As a UX professional, you have to understand the direct impact of your work on the business.  To do this, you need to first understand how the business operates in implicit detail to ensure you can effectively frame the value you deliver.  Find an angle where the problems caused by poor UX, IA, VD has a direct impact on revenue, or whatever your boss is KPI’d on and then break it down into language they will understand to force home your message.

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One response to How UX can get the budget they want

  1. ebrown

    Reblogged this on WeirdGuy and commented:
    Check out Alan’s post on selling UX to your leadership or potential client. Be warned – you first need to know the numbers and how that equates to the value you bring. Do you homework and then pitch your solution.

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