For Entrepreneurs, CX Design is More Important than UX Design
You're probably already familiar with User Experience (UX) Design. It's a booming field with thousands of jobs, books, and websites dedicated to it.
You might be less familiar with Customer Experience (CX) Design. But just because the term is less popular doesn't make it any less vital. If anything, it’s more important for entrepreneurs and freelancers hoping to grow their businesses.
Even if you're familiar with both concepts, if you're like most entrepreneurs you're not sure what exactly the difference is. Since the terms are often used interchangeably, you might hear "CX Design" and think of wireframes and navigation menus.
That's completely understandable. Even the definitions of the two disciplines sound vaguely similar:
- User Experience (UX) Design is the process used to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.
- Customer Experience (CX) Design is the process used to optimize customer experiences at all touchpoints before, during and after conversion.
Well, today we're going to clear everything up.
By the end of this article, you'll have a clear sense of how CX Design is different from UX Design and why that distinction matters.
The Differences between UX and CX Design
A Difference in Focus
UX Design is primarily concerned with touchpoint usability. Let's say you're creating a new website for your business. Reading about UX Design will give you a sense of how you should lay out the website, what the content should be, and how it should look and feel. UX Design helps you design better individual products.
CX Design is primarily concerned with journey quality. If you're creating a new website, reading about CX Design will give you a sense of how your website should fit into your sales process, your support processes, and your overall brand. CX Design helps you design a better business.
In other words, CX Design focuses on the customer's relationship with your business, rather than their usage of your product.
A Difference in Scope
Let's imagine you run a greenhouse. You grow multiple types of vegetables, each with unique watering, soil, and sunlight needs.
A UX Designer is like a vegetable specialist. They focus on the precise amount of water your tomatoes need to flourish.
A CX Designer is like a greenhouse architect. They focus on the structure of the building, mapping out paths through the garden, and ensuring the greenhouse is holistically optimised to generate as much profit as possible.
In other words, CX Design zooms out and focuses on the bigger picture of your business, rather than the details of how a specific product works.
A Difference in Goals
The primary goal of UX Design is to reduce friction. UX Designers make individual interaction points easier to use. This is most valuable when you're trying to improve life for an end user. Getting really good at UX requires knowledge of graphic design, copywriting, and customer research techniques.
The primary goal of CX Design is to increase momentum. CX Designers make interactions with your company more unified so that you can accomplish an end goal. That might be a higher referral rate, longer customer retention, or more upsells. This is most valuable when you're working with multiple stakeholders or on complex offerings across multiple channels. Being really good at CX Design requires knowledge of marketing, psychology, as well as design.
Why the Distinction Matters
Even after outlining the differences between UX and CX, you might feel like it's primarily a semantic difference. After all, you're looking to grow your business, not get a design degree.
The Disney theme-parks provide an illustrative example of how this distinction can make a difference in your business.
If spent your time analyzing the theme parks from a UX perspective, you’d focus on developing better signage, costumes, and scripts for the Mickey Mouse actors. These are, of course, all important elements.
But Disney looked at their parks with a CX perspective. Thinking holistically about the entire customer journey,
Bloomberg is a multi-billion dollar company that provides trading software for investment bankers and analysts. The interface for their main product, the Terminal, is notoriously hideous.
If you’re thinking from a UX perspective, you ask the obvious question: why does Bloomberg, with millions of customers around the world, not improve the UX of this interface? Any 2nd year college student with a passing understanding of UX should be able to improve on this monstrosity. If this is the flagship offering for Bloomberg, bringing in billions each each, why not make it more usable?
But if you consider it from a CX perspective, things start making sense. As Dominique Leca wrote:
“The pain inflicted by blatant UI (user interface) flaws is strangely transformed into the rewarding experience of looking like a hard-core professional. The Bloomberg Terminal interface looks terrible, but it allows traders to pretend that you need to be experienced and knowledgeable to use it.”
In other words, Bloomberg is optimizing for factors beyond usability. They know their customers, They know their experience isn’t just about using the interface. It’s about what it represents and how it makes them feel. And as a result, they continue to make billions.
A Focus on CX is a Focus on Growth
The reason understanding the differences between UX and CX matters has everything to do with changing your focus to the things that help rapidly grow your business.
If you spend your time reading about UX design, you'll learn about information architecture, navigation, visual hierarchies, and so on. And that might be important to your business, if you're really into fine-tuning your website or mobile app. You'll be able to get better click-through rates, which is of course valuable in its own right. But, with rare exceptions, businesses don't rapidly grow because of slightly higher clickthrough rates.
Most businesses grow because they've figured how to acquire more customers, retain them for longer, and get those customers to refer new customers. When this cycle is optimised, your revenue will take a sharp turn upwards. Learning about CX Design is how you optimise that cycle.
To put it bluntly, if you want to improve your usage-based metrics, look at UX. When you're ready to improve your revenue-based metrics, come learn about CX.
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