Using UX to win in good times (and bad)

4 min read Optimal Workshop

A  natural response to a downturn is to contract. To remove ‘excess’ to become streamlined. Whilst this is an understandable and natural response to a reduction in revenue, bookings, or orders, it could be a little counter-intuitive. Marketing and research budgets are often reduced as part of saving money and resource in hard times. Still, the insight from research could be exactly what you need to keep customers happy and even attract new ones from your competitors. 

When customers, clients, and users are also needing to cut their expenses, and are becoming more discerning with their spending, surely it makes more sense to get into the nitty gritty of their needs? To understand how they work, what they want, and how to get them to interact, stick and spend with you over your competitors?

The argument could be that the deeper the downturn, the deeper we need to work to research and understand our users to make sure we deliver what they want and need. To truly deliver a great user experience. Nurturing each and every interaction to ensure that when they are spending their money, it is your organization that they think of first.

Be bold, and resist the urge to cut back on research.  Instead, lean into research in a downturn:  focus on users’ expectations, dive into the reasons they make decisions, and how to develop websites, apps, or products to meet these needs, and deliver a UX that excites, entices, and enriches their experience. Bringing them in, keeping them engaged, and bringing them back for more.

So rather than reducing UX research spending, now is the time to really ensure that your users are being served. To be the first, they look for and to ensure the spend they have is with your organization.

Sometimes it can be useful to see how some of the biggest companies in the world have used user research to get to where they are. And why they never take their foot off of the accelerator, never take their eyes off of the end user and what they want. Let’s take a look at How the biggest companies use UX to win – an ebook on exactly that; some of the world’s best-known companies have become so big by always looking to their users and asking how to make sure they have the very best experience.

Samsung – Floundering a little in the early 2000’s Samsung undertook user research to understand how customers used their TVs. Seems a fairly prosaic question around when they watch their favorite telly program. 

Hold up… it turned out to be fairly illuminating in terms of how people viewed their TV, and it’s place in their home. People wanted something that looked good (as well as delivering what they expected in technical specifications). Lightbulb moment for Samsung, as they had, up until now, focussed on the specs. They turned to the designers for a new look, inbuilt speakers, and a sleeker design. By 2007 Samsung had doubled its market share in the TV market. By asking a simple question about what their users wanted.

Amazon – During the company’s first year of operation, they invested 100 times more into the customer experience than they did into advertising. Working on what their customers wanted rather than spending money telling them what Amazon was selling. Creating a user experience that delivered this knowledge. And they’ve never stopped. Speaking to the Economic Club of Washington in 2018, Bezos explained that “The No. 1 thing that has made us successful by far is [an] obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

Apple – Putting users first, always. The power of Apple and their success is in the way they have focussed on their users. Throughout the development of their products to the customer experience in the retail stores. Taking inspiration from the level of service at the concierge of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. To the extent of sending staff to train with the hotel. Giving customers the same level of personal attention and a customer experience they don’t quickly forget. This ability to service customers across the business has generated 90% in product loyalty, and the retail stores generate 28% of sales. 


If the biggest companies in the world are investing (continuously) in user research and putting the focus squarely on their users’ needs, why wouldn’t every organization? By obsessively considering their user as the primary driver for progress, these companies have demonstrated the importance of user research all the time and at any time.

Find out more about How the biggest companies use UX to win in our eBook.