The Art of Influence: Winning Stakeholders’ Hearts in the Design Journey

Data plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your goals as a designer are shared with relevant stakeholders, so you receive the support you need to move forward …

Maria Myre
Maria Myre
Aug 14, 2023
Min Read

Working as a UX or Product Designer requires more than just crafting designs; it involves a dynamic partnership with professionals from diverse backgrounds, including product managers, developers, and various business stakeholders throughout the organization. However, this collaboration often comes with a suite of challenges, from unwarranted feedback to conflicting goals and opinions. 

The key to overcoming these challenges lies in your ability to collect, analyze, and synthesize data. Data plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your goals as a designer are shared with relevant stakeholders, so you receive the support you need to move forward and succeed with your work.

Let’s take a deeper look at how data works within the product design and collaboration process to create more effective, successful products.

Leverage Data for Effective Communication

Data-driven design isn’t meant to exist in a vacuum within the product team.

Rather, its insights can be used to offer stakeholders a clear view of the potential ROI, as well as the impact on users and overarching business trajectories. 

Except there’s a problem: the majority of data (anywhere from 80% to 90%, according to some analyst estimates) exists in an unstructured information format like social media comments or reactions, survey responses, etc. 

Which means that the interpretation of data is open for debate.

For a designer, this “problem” is actually the solution. It gives you an opening to create a compelling story that’s designed to speak to the “pain points” of your stakeholders and show how your design solutions will effectively pair business needs with positive user experiences.

“Since most of the world’s data is unstructured, an ability to analyze and act on it presents a big opportunity," says Mikey Shulman, finance lecturer at MIT Sloan.

Who Are Your Stakeholders?

By incorporating relevant data into your discussions with stakeholders, you can bolster your arguments and provide compelling evidence to support your design proposals. 

However, depending on the organization you work with, your stakeholders could include individuals who align with any (or all) of the following:

  • C-suite executives
  • Product managers
  • Marketing specialists
  • Developers / Engineers
  • Customer support representatives

Each stakeholder has a unique perspective and a specific set of requirements that they bring to the table, based on their expertise within the company. These requirements range from financial gains (the bottom line), strategic objectives, user satisfaction, and personal achievements.

Does Your Storytelling Resonate?

If the data story you’ve crafted is going to resonate, it needs to be tailored to align with the specific concerns of each segment of stakeholders. 

Some examples of what this “tailoring” might look like: 

  • Executives and Decision-makers: Highlight the potential return on investment (ROI) and how your design aligns with the company's strategic goals. Emphasize how your proposal contributes to the bottom line and long-term growth.
  • Product Managers and Developers: These stakeholders are often concerned with feasibility and implementation. Provide detailed insights into the technical aspects of your design, showcasing how it can be seamlessly integrated into existing systems and workflows.
  • User Experience and Design Teams: Leverage your design expertise to engage these stakeholders in a deeper discussion. Dive into the user-centric aspects of your proposal, emphasizing how it enhances user satisfaction and elevates the overall experience.
  • Marketing and Sales Teams: Highlight the marketability and competitive edge of your design. Showcase how it aligns with the brand's messaging and resonates with the target audience, ultimately driving customer acquisition and retention.

By tailoring your communication strategies to address each stakeholder's perspective, you not only enhance the chances of buy-in, but also demonstrate your ability to empathize and collaborate effectively across the organization.

8 Steps to Win Stakeholders With Data-Driven Design insights

At this point, we’ve settled on two things: 

  1. Data is necessary for successful stakeholder collaboration
  2. Raw data isn’t enough on its own: you have to craft a story to paint a bigger picture of what this data says, and what solutions you’ve come up with based on this information.

Here are a few more practical steps that you can take to ensure you’re pulling the right data in the most effective way:

1. Identify Relevant Metrics

Start by identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your design objectives and stakeholders' concerns. These could include metrics such as user engagement rates, conversion rates, revenue growth, or customer satisfaction scores. The data you choose to work with should directly illustrate how your design solution addresses specific pain points or user goals.

2. Visualize Insights

Raw data can be overwhelming, so transforming it into easily digestible visualizations can enhance its impact. Create charts, graphs, and infographics that clearly convey trends, comparisons, and patterns. Visualizations not only make data more digestible but also make your presentation more engaging and memorable.

3. Tell a Story

Data becomes much more compelling when woven into a narrative. Craft a compelling story that highlights the problem, your proposed solution, and the positive outcomes driven by your design. Illustrate how the data validates the effectiveness of your solution and how it aligns with the stakeholders' goals.

→ Watch the webinar: Product Design Storytelling: Effective Communication for the Non-Believers

4. Customized Reports

Just as you tailor your design approach for different user personas, customize your data reports for different stakeholder groups. Executives may appreciate high-level summaries with strategic implications, while developers might prefer technical details and integration possibilities. Adapt your data presentation to resonate with each audience's preferences.

5. A/B Testing Results

If applicable, leverage A/B testing results to showcase the impact of your design. Present how variations of your design were tested against each other, and highlight the data that demonstrates the version's success in meeting the desired outcomes. A/B testing results lend quantitative credibility to your design proposals, helping to ensure you continue to receive buy-in for future projects.

6. Real-world Use Cases

Share real-world use cases and success stories that demonstrate how data-driven design has worked for similar projects or within the same industry. Showing tangible examples of how data has led to positive results can boost stakeholders' confidence in your approach when you pitch new design ideas.

7. Continuous Feedback Loop

Data-driven communication is not a one-time endeavor. Keep the conversation alive by providing regular updates on how your design is performing post-implementation. Show how you're tracking the chosen metrics and how the design is contributing to the anticipated benefits. 

8. Align Design Proposals with Business Objectives

How does your design proposal align with and contribute to the broader business objectives? Whether it's increasing revenue, expanding market share, or enhancing brand loyalty, your design should be positioned as a means to realize these outcomes. Highlight key performance indicators (KPIs) that your proposal aims to influence and articulate how achieving these metrics will translate into tangible benefits for the company.

Start Leveraging the Power of UX Data and Product Analytics

Securing buy-in for your design ideas—and ensuring that they deliver as promised—requires a delicate blend of strategic alignment, user-centric storytelling, and robust data-driven support. 

By mastering this art, you position yourself as a persuasive advocate for design-driven growth, and your proposals become not just ideas, but strategic instruments that drive the success of your products and the organization as a whole.

Want to learn more about how to leverage data to design, launch, and grow products and win the support of stakeholders? Join our next Data-Driven Design cohort, launching soon.

data driven design course by Designlab

Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.

Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.