How to Get Your Boss to Pay for UX Projects 

Potential clients sometimes tell me that they’re worried that they can’t get buy-in from their manager (or their VP, or their CEO) when they’re trying to budget for user experience projects. 

“Make the website look better” might be enough motivation at some companies, especially if trendy design is a big part of your brand. However, after spending more than twenty-five years building websites professionally, and after focusing primarily on user experience projects over the past decade, I can show you three arguments that I’ve successfully used to help clients justify the expense of UX research, audits, and design tracks. 

1. Target a conversion-focused goal 

Our team doesn’t undertake a project unless we can set a measurable goal from the start. On an e-commerce project, we can point to easily trackable metrics, like conversion rates or average sales. Sometimes, those metrics are a little squishier, like attributing positive media clips to a client’s electronic press kits. Kathryn Whitenon from Nielsen Norman Group explains more about how UX professionals can improve conversion rates in this brief explainer video. 

We focus on helping clients attribute specific returns on the investment in the work we do together, whether that’s recommending quick fixes to an online shopping experience or implementing unobtrusive, privacy-focused analytics. We’ll even help you do the math by reviewing your current data as part of our audit track or our discovery process, so you can show clear ROI after just a quarter or two. 

2. Streamline or eliminate manual business processes 

Many of our clients ask us to help build workflows or tools to improve the ways they run their operations. WordPress and Shopify offer plenty of great extensions that can simplify how you manage content, customer service, and order flow. If you’re running a custom platform, we’re fans of no-code and low-code tools like Zapier, Airtable, and Notion that let parts of your business communicate seamlessly with each other. 

We’re also vigilant about avoiding situations where an automated solution ends up costing more to build and maintain than keeping a mostly manual process. If that’s the case, we help our clients design training and development programs that teams can use to improve their effectiveness and efficiency. Either way, we love to point at how a new process saves your business money while enabling your team members to spend more time in their zones of genius. 

3. Reduce your exposure to lawsuits or compliance penalties. 

We’re always going to tell our clients to follow usability best practices because they’re the right things to do. However, we’ve also encountered plenty of business owners who admitted they didn’t think their old websites were problematic until they got a stern letter from an attorney. 

After five years of courtroom fights, a federal district court judge upheld that Domino’s violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to maintain an accessible website. (Just saying you’ve got an equivalent service by phone or e-mail won’t cut it anymore.) 

Meanwhile, in places like Europe and California, businesses now face stiff penalties for failing to follow privacy rules. If you’ve been relying on old website code that customizes a layout or tracks customer behavior with cookies, your website must include critical workflows and functions that enable your visitors to control their experience. It’s no longer sufficient to say that your third-party partner handles this for you, either. You’re on the hook for any mistakes your vendors make if your company name’s on the website. 

In either of these cases, a user experience audit focused on privacy and accessibility can help you identify and mitigate potential problems for far less money than the cost of even responding to a typical legal complaint. 

Auditing your website doesn’t mean committing to all the work 

Many of our clients come to us with a mistaken belief that a UX audit reveals a ton of work that needs to be carried out right away. Instead, we’ve designed our process to work with Agile development teams who typically work on features in blocks of 2-6 weeks at a time.  

We’ll provide a list of everything we’ve found, sorted in the priority order for the fastest impact. By approaching your website as an ever-evolving part of your business instead of an all-or-nothing project, we help our clients budget appropriately for the long haul, saving them even more money by reducing urgency over time. 

Because we’re not a development shop by trade, we’re never going to try to upsell you with a ton of new coding and design work. (Many of our clients are surprised to hear just how much of their existing websites are working just fine, and may just need a few refinements for compliance or optimization.) 

We’ve usually got the bandwidth to take on a few new clients every quarter with our Express UX Audit program (for websites that have already been built) and our Express UX Discovery program (for projects that are still in the design phase). Contact us today to schedule a complimentary discovery session, so we can help identify the return on investment you want to see over the coming months. 

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Who are Johns & Taylor?

We’re a team of master certified user experience researchers, consultants, and digital content experts. With backgrounds in media, technology, and journalism, we understand how to help our clients accomplish their goals online.

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