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How to Unleash the Power of Data-Driven Design

Data-driven design can foster powerful innovation where there are otherwise design roadblocks. Although UX/UI designers may not be accustomed to working with large data sets, the changes that an informed design process can bring about are significantly positive.

WHAT IS DATA-DRIVEN DESIGN?

Data-driven design is simply engaging the data that users leave behind as they interact with your website. This can tell you what they like on a page, what they don’t like, how long they stay on certain content for, where they click next and even why they’re leaving your site.

The value of this data is that it provides many opportunities to solve the problems of your users. Even if you have a clever or flashy idea, it doesn’t matter if the end users don’t like it. So let the data help you listen to them and respond to their input. They’ll answer in kind, and you’ll begin to see the power of data-driven design.

CHIEF PRINCIPLES OF DATA-DRIVEN DESIGN

There are a lot of ways to incorporate data into your designs, but these three following principles will help guide the ship, especially during the early transition to data-driven design.

  • Discover and improve – Data-driven design is most effectively used to uncover user insights that aren’t otherwise obvious.
  • Measure up – Use quantitative data to set benchmarks in coordination with qualitative data to help parse the numbers.
  • Listen in – Set achievable goals that are formulated by constant feedback from stakeholders and users alike.

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH DATA-DRIVEN DESIGN

It may not be too surprising, but the best way to get started with data-driven design is to start collecting data. This design process is all about getting to know your users, so begin by analyzing your customers and making up a demographic profile.

Then use your analytics tool to assess your site flow through the path that the majority of your users take. This will help you understand some of the most obvious pain points and notice where certain things like buttons, calls to action and links might be better placed.

You also might notice that your home page isn’t actually the landing page for most people. This is a huge difference between designers and users. While most sites are designed in a linear fashion, users often enter a site at a subpage. So designing a linear website experience from the homepage can leave these people confused and unlikely to return.

GETTING OTHERS ON BOARD

Designers have certain intuitions about how things should work. Data-driven design isn’t meant to contradict that. In fact, a designer may find that the data shows their solution has the potential to solve a real problem. Without data, there are very few ways to predict a design’s success.

Because websites are usually a team effort, you as the designer may not be the only person who needs convincing. While minor tweaks may be left up to you, something as drastic as redesigning a sales funnel may likely face pushback from other stakeholders.

With your experience and the data to show that there’s room for improvement, it’s much easier to get your team on board. This means better and faster solutions for your users.

TESTING YOUR DESIGNS

Once you’ve refined your data set enough to have a solid audience profile, search out a group of subjects that fit into that category. Use focus groups and customer surveys to determine very specific user personas.

When your product is far enough along, you can use test subjects that match the various user personas for specific feedback. Although the sample sizes for data are decreasing with each step in the process, the quality and reliability of the data increase proportionally.

It’s understandable if bringing data into your design process is something new— data and design used to live in separate silos. Incorporating them together takes effort, but the results will clearly speak for themselves.