The power of UX: Design with the customer in mind | Ignite Partnership

The power of UX: Design with the customer in mind

How much value would you place on good user experience and design? How about $60 million?

Would you believe that’s the amount good user experience and design added to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign contributions during the election?

Just to be clear, this isn’t a political post about Obama or his presidency. I’m here to talk about how good design can be effective at accomplishing goals. So, back to the $60 million question: How did Obama’s campaign leverage good user experience and design to raise extra contributions?

Using design insights his team uncovered, they essentially raised an additional $60 million by testing out different images and buttons to see which combination enticed visitors to sign up and donate more. I’m not going to get super into the weeds about how to use a/b testing and analytics, but if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the Obama campaign, follow the link at the bottom of this post.

Suffice it to say, design really mattered when it came to boosting the bottom line, as it can for any business.

Deliberately designed efforts can make a huge impact

When you’re moving fast and furious to meet a deadline, good design is often a “nice to have” or “we’ll get to it later.” And leaving things to chance with just a team of developers to get it right shouldn’t be your only option. Years of experience has taught us that design is critical for every stage of the sales funnel. I’m not just talking about details like branding and color palettes. Every fundamental design decision has an impact. For instance, these simple questions come up when you really start to think about website design:

  • Should we have a button or a link?
  • Where should this button or link be positioned? Toward the top, or at the very bottom?

Questions like these are hard to answer and often get glossed over in a rush. Luckily, there’s one simple question that we use to help focus and orient any design decision:

What are the actions we want people to take?

Before you shout “More Sales!” to your computer screen, that’s not the answer I wanted. Wanting more sales is great, but “More Sales!” isn’t very actionable. When you think about the problems that exist through the lens of design and strategy, the monolithic “More Sales” gets compartmentalized into smaller, actionable, and measurable micro goals that become milestones in completing the sale.

When I was learning design in college, my peers and I used to joke, “Well, we’re not curing cancer.” Yes, learning to design CD covers and business cards wasn’t doing that. If we look ahead, though, to opportunities where we would have the opportunity to work with the American Cancer Society, making sure the design of a brochure or website does have a very tangible impact. Having a poorly designed site could cost thousands, even millions, of dollars in charitable contributions every year.

The power of design can’t be thought of as “extra”

It’s a highly valuable tool that, if used correctly, can help raise money, cure diseases, and yes, help the bottom line. Consequently, these opportunities are often hidden, which makes things problematic. They’re normally hidden in plain sight; you just have to know where to look to find them.

Fundamentally, the details of design matter at every stage because completing a sale and getting people to engage aren’t isolated incidents. They’re part of a multistep process and it only takes one poorly designed touch point to throw people right out of the funnel, whether it’s for sales, political campaigns, or charitable contributions.


“How Obama Raised $60 Million by Running a Simple Experiment,” By Dan Siroker, November 29, 2010, Optimizely blog.