How to sell UX to your stakeholders

As a designer, you know the value of UX. There’s no doubt about it. But how about your clients? Or your manager? That’s a different story. Here’s how to sell UX to your stakeholders.

How to sell UX to your stakeholders

In this article, you will learn how to approach your stakeholders about UX. It’ll help you get the buy-in you need to do your UX projects the way you want. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the most important aspects of UX that you need to learn. If you can sell UX, you’re miles ahead of your competition.

We’ll also look at some tips and tricks for selling UX internally that I’ve learned along the way.

Table of Contents

How to sell UX to your stakeholders

Selling UX is all about understanding what your stakeholders value. Once you do, you have to appeal to that value with good arguments. Here’s a step-by-step plan you can try to sell UX to your stakeholders.

Show the value of UX

As UX designers, we know all about the importance of UX. That means you should be able to give a presentation to explain UX and its value. Depending on the UX maturity of your client and the person you’re talking to, this just might be enough to sell UX.

In a best-case scenario, you’re done now and can continue doing your UX work. However, if that’s not the case, we go one step further.

Appeal to what your stakeholders value

Let’s say your stakeholders care about something other than UX. Sadly for us designers, this happens very often. You can keep trying to convince them of the added value of UX, which is very exhausting, or go a different route.

That different route is appealing to what your stakeholders value. Luckily, this is just like doing a user interview. You have to listen carefully, pay close attention, and ask the right questions to understand what your stakeholder wants.

In a lot of cases, there’s a business goal that needs to be achieved. Examples include increasing revenue by onboarding more users or lowering costs by creating a modern lightweight app. Unfortunately, talking to more users and validating your design decisions isn’t on the mind of a stakeholder focused on reducing costs.

So, what to do? Combine the added value of UX with the business goals I just mentioned. For example, if your stakeholder wants to lower costs, mention how validating your concepts at the start of a project helps the company save a lot of development rework later on.

Talking about rework and budget doesn’t sound very UX-like, but in practice, it is a critical topic that helps you convince your clients of the need for UX work.

Escalate up the ladder

If the above doesn’t work, and believe me, this will happen, your next step is to go up the ladder and involve others at your company.

Remember, this only works if you work at a big company with multiple designers. It is hard to do this if you’re the sole designer at a startup. Let’s look at another example.

I had a very challenging group of stakeholders during one of my projects. Unfortunately, the tips I mentioned to help sell UX to these stakeholders didn’t work.

What did help, however, was to involve the head of design at the company.

Stakeholders are more likely to listen to a higher-up than to a random designer. You can’t do everything by yourself. It is up to you to be aware of when you need help. That’s where your manager, product owner, or head of design is for.

Summary

Selling UX to your stakeholders is very hard. That’s because UX is still a relatively new word for many companies. New ways of working can be scary, so you need good convincing skills to sell UX to your clients, managers, and stakeholders.

Here’s a step-by-step you can use. Start with the first and only move to the next if you feel like the current step doesn’t work.

  • Sell UX by showing its added value based on your experience.
  • Appeal to your stakeholder’s values and use UX to increase that value.
  • Use your higher-ups to convince your stakeholders of UX.

If you apply these tips, convincing your stakeholders of UX and getting buy-in should be achievable.

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Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld, a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at my LinkedIn and Medium for more.