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Top 4 Reasons UX Research Isn’t Getting Executive Buy-In — And How to Fix It


UX researcher drawing a picture of a smartphone on a whiteboard next to numerous post-it notes

You and I both know how valuable a satisfied user experience (UX) can be. After all, what’s valuable to the user is valuable to the business, right? Some of your colleagues, however, may need a little more convincing.

Making the case for a line item in your company’s 2019 budget that reads “UX improvements” isn’t always an easy one. So what’s the problem? Why the executive level pushback?

Chances are your UX pitch could use some help.

Your UX research pitch is missing its mark — 4 reasons why

Let’s take a look at where you’re falling short and what it’s going to take to dissolve the skepticism and finally get that decision maker to buy-in to your UX goals. I’ve compiled this list of red flags for anyone struggling to get UX research buy-in at their company.


1. You haven’t set aside time to educate.

This might sound like UX 101, but there’s a good chance not everyone knows the difference between usability and user experience. Or maybe every time you try to move the needle on anything UX related, the topic of cost rebuffs any real progress.

This presents a definite opportunity: It’s time to educate.

Invite the right decision makers to local UX events, or schedule lunch-and-learns and host a UX expert to speak on the topic. Welcome reputable outside support whenever you can. Ask them to articulate the ROI of user experience research.

Invite the right decision makers to local UX events, or schedule lunch-and-learns and host a UX expert to speak on the topic.

2. Your brand is implementing the wrong UX best practices.

Maybe the last time you brought up the need for a more intensive approach to your brand’s UX, you heard something along the lines of: “We’re already following all the UX best practices out there.”

Okay, a little Googling will prove there’s no shortage of UX best practices. Unfortunately, that might not be a good thing. And good design principles don’t always equate to good UX.

Do you understand the context of where those best practices are coming from? If not, they might be hurting your brand’s UX more than helping.

From industry to industry, brand to brand, task to task, the requirements of a positive user experience can vary greatly. Effective user experience research is conducted on an individual, case-by-case basis.

3. You haven’t connected business challenges to UX.

Tie any user experience problems to your company’s business objectives.

Want to really get some attention? Tie any user experience problems to your company’s business objectives. Some low-hanging, profit-hindering examples include:

  • Lengthy checkout processes
  • Cluttered layouts
  • Poor user personalization
  • Forgetting about mobile users
  • Inconspicuous calls-to-action
  • Unclear site navigation

The list could (and does) go on and on. Whether in-store or online, the presence of any or all of these can have damaging effects on the bottom line — not to mention frustrate users and deal a serious blow to brand engagement.

Any time you can showcase missed business opportunities due to your brand’s potential UX shortcomings, you’re finding a strategic and productive way to fit the need for UX investment into your organization’s overall mission.

Now speak up!

4. You’re not playing to your audience.

Senior management favors hard numbers over soft anecdotes. Fact.

So it makes a lot of sense to share important stats like unique visitors, time on site, bounce rates, conversion rates, etc. How do those numbers stack up against industry standards? Share that too.

If you’re lagging in one or more areas, it won’t go unnoticed.

To go a step further, take advantage of another brand’s UX success story … if you don’t have any of your own. Like best practices, Google can deliver a bevy of them. Just remember to relay only those stories relevant to your brand’s UX needs and goals.

My advice: Connect with an experienced UX professional who can provide you with results-based success stories pertinent to your UX goals.

Stop getting your UX case dismissed.

When it comes to user experience, having an executive champion on your side is critical.

And once you help them get it (it = the true value of a seamless, consistent cross-channel user experience), this senior-level team member can help to break down department silos that often muddy any UX efforts your company has already made. That’s key to making headway.

Carolyn Leist is a research and customer experience analyst at RRD Marketing Solutions.

Looking for more guidance on how to improve your pitch? Contact us today.