In my 10 years of working as a UX consultant I would never start a project without defining the ‘Business’ and ‘User’ goals first. You would be surprised at how many times this is barely considered, but the importance of it is huge and if isn’t established at the beginning leaves a project without a foundation to build upon.
If you or your client doesn’t understand what the goal of their business is and if you have no idea of the end goal of the user, how can you then move forward and set project goals, perform user research, look at best practices, create use cases, empathy maps and personas, define user journeys, brainstorm and card map, conduct user testing and refine?
It is the single most important part of your UX project. Granted it is all important, but this part is the key to your project.
I have been contracted onto projects that are halfway along the road map where everybody is confused and unsure of what is happening. Development teams are already building the product, designers are putting together the visual look and feel, but because the goals hadn’t been defined, there was no real direction, just a vague idea of what they were building, with only one option: to roll it back and to a degree, start again. It’s not good to be in technical debt, it adds pressure to the teams, lowers morale and slows down the final deliverance of the product.
So, what is a ‘Business Goal’? It is the reason why the business exists. It is what defines the ‘what’ of your client’s business’s purpose. It provides the direction the business will follow. It is how you want your client wants their business to perform.
What is the ‘User Goal’? It is final state for which the user strives through a series of tasks. The aim should be to make this as painless and easy as possible. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the user which would obviously be a negative outcome, evidence of a bad user experience.
Let’s take an imagined business called ‘Acme Shoes’.
Their business goal could be: To provide shoes to all ages, for all different activities, be competitive in the market, be available online but also in the high street, stay current and see yearly growth.
The user goal could be: Enable customers to buy their shoes online through a simple easy merchant gateway, the ability to model the shoes on their feet using the latest app technology making the whole process fun. Also have stores in key cities across the country so customers can still have that ‘human’ experience.
With this defined and established you are then in a position to start looking at the requirements of the user and project goals, research, create personas, empathy maps and really get moving on your UX project.
Clearly this shows that by starting your UX project with a strong focus on these two goals, working through them with your client and honing them down you will end up with better outcomes, improved delivery, a more coherent framework and an overall better understanding of what you are all producing.