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Goal-Centered Design and the Bottom Line

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If you really want to improve your bottom line, design for user goals, not organizational tasks.

It’s easy to get swept up in the efficiency of small tasks while trying to improve user experiences and simultaneously increase the bottom line. Designing around goals, instead of tasks, allows for new and exciting ways to reach target audiences and design next-level solutions.

Let’s look at an example goal that might help us understand how focusing on tasks can weigh down innovation efforts.

Say a nonprofit wanted to increase individual donations by 5% in the coming year. The organization could focus on optimizing the tasks related to receiving and processing checks. Or they could look at the user’s goal of supporting a cause they care about, and find ways to improve the entire ecosystem that surrounds that goal.

The evolution of the online donation process provides a great illustration of this concept.

In 1985, a user’s tasks to find and donate to an organization might have included:

  • Receive a mailing
  • Talk to a friend
  • Attend an event
  • Buy a stamp
  • Buy an envelope
  • Write a check
  • Mail a letter

In 2020, the tasks associated with finding and donating to an organization might include:

  • Receive a email
  • Check an email
  • Search the web
  • Click on a link on social media
  • Attend an event
  • Acknowledge a friend’s birthday
  • Complete a digital form

While the tasks related to making donations have changed over time, the user’s goal is still to find and support a cause they care about.

It is common to focus on improving the efficiency of a task, but remember to take a step back and look at the entire process. If the focus on improving task efficiency outweighs accomplishing a goal, the design might not reach full potential. In this example, focusing on receiving and processing checks more quickly misses the spectrum of digital opportunities.

By maintaining a focus on the user’s goal, independent of the tasks, any company can find new opportunities in a changing ecosystem. Focusing on user goals will uncover new ways to delight users and improve the bottom-line.