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Why Great User Experience is the Engine of Product Led Growth

Written by
Jane Austin Jane Austin
CPO & Founder of Laurel
Published
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It doesn’t matter if you are selling direct to consumers or building a B2B SaaS platform – investing in design and experience will drive growth and help you beat the competition.

Why?

The power of great experiences extends far beyond the immediate user. They have a viral effect - they turn users into advocates. People who have a positive experience tell others, leading to organic growth through word of mouth as recommendations from existing users are incredibly powerful in driving new user acquisition. A product that consistently delivers exceptional user experiences can create a self-sustaining cycle of growth fuelled by user referrals. And of course, the reverse is true. The only thing people share more than a great experience is a terrible one, and this can stop a purchase dead in its tracks. When potential purchasers can easily see what others are saying about you, bad reviews can tarnish your brand's reputation and slow growth


"A product that consistently delivers exceptional user experiences can create a self-sustaining cycle of growth fuelled by user referrals"

Jane Austin, CPO & Founder of Laurel

It’s the same for B2B companies even though the end user and the people buying the tools are usually completely different. Savvy decision makers look at reviews and data to see what value others are getting, and assess how much value your product will bring them. . B2B tools are designed to enhance efficiency and productivity within organisations. If user reviews highlight frustrations and inefficiencies rather than tangible benefits, it directly affects sales conversion rates.

A bad experience where your end user struggles will cost your business more than just lost sales. The cost of customer support escalates as frustrated users seek assistance with navigating complex or unintuitive interfaces. In many cases, investing in thoughtful design and user research upfront proves far more cost-effective than addressing issues retroactively.

Frustrated customers will churn – and tell others.

In light of all of this, it's surprising that some companies still view design as mere decoration rather than a core component of their business strategy. Design isn't an afterthought; it's a driver of key business metrics such as customer acquisition costs, service expenses, and revenue retention. Design teams are not a cost centre, but a strategic advantage.

This is why investing in good design results not just in a flywheel of growth, but a way to stand out in a crowded market.

Good design makes good business sense.

OK, hopefully you are now completely convinced and are wondering how to make design your strategic advantage. I’ve got you - here are my top tips

Before reading this list though, can I take a moment to say there is no one right way to organise teams and build products. I do see a lot of influencers saying they have some kind of secret sauce or process to follow, and I hear about a lot of product people spending too long trying worrying about why their organisation isn’t like what they read in books and blog posts.

I’ll let you into a secret. No one has these ideal processes. Instead, I’d like to recommend a toolkit or a way of thinking about the work that helps unlock great design. And don’t worry if you can’t do all of them.

1) Start together

Don’t bring in design at the end - instead build a partnership between product, design and tech. This can be at the team level, where the disciplines work in a triad, or at more senior levels.

2) Work together

Building great products is inherently collaborative. There will be fuzzy boundaries between product and design. Lean into them. Great things happen in this overlap - discussion, debate, different viewpoints come together to be greater than the sum of their parts

3) Trust

Ive the team time and space to define ways of working together. Invest in training people to give and receive feedback, and be honest with each other. Make sure you have retros where people can talk about how they work together and how it can be improved

4) Amplify your knowledge

As a product person you should have absolute clarity on the business strategy, metrics and targets. Make sure your team understands them too, and frame their work in business outcomes

5) Research

There are two types of research - the one that lets you know what is the right thing to build. This is big, foundational research that can set the direction of your business. You won’t need to do this a lot, but it needs to be done well. Then there is research to be sure you are building the thing right. This can be fast and scrappy, and its power is in trying different things and making sure what gets into the hands of customers won't cost your business in terms of support calls or bad reviews.

6) Know your customer

Combine knowledge from marketing, sales, growth and product teams to build a holistic view of your customers and users that everyone is aligned around - and then use this knowledge to drive decisions across the business.

7) Slices

As a team, split your work into increments. Be clear on what is the least you can deliver to get the result, then use data to understand how people are actually using what you’ve shipped. Learn, then release the next slice. Iterate towards your product vision, learning as you go.

8) You do have a product vision, don’t you?

Just checking. You want momentum, not just speed. Speed has no direction attached to it, and if you have no vision you could simply be running very fast in circles.

9) Sweat the small stuff

You need to make sure the devs have time and are empowered to polish the designs where it is needed, to build animations and interactions that make the product sticky

10) But sweat the right stuff

Not everything in the product needs to be amazing - focus on the areas that will differentiate you. Here is an example I often use:


C USTOMER EXPERIENCE DIAGRAM

Which is RyanAir and which is Emirates Air?

These two airlines are consciously only directing their effort into areas where they can compete and win, This is their differentiation strategy. With increasing pressure on budgets and timelines, make sure you know where you need to put your team’s effort and why - and just as importantly make sure your team know, so that they don’t get stressed and upset fighting to get improvements on the roadmap that don’t belong there

11) Don’t forget content

Content is part of the experience too - sometimes it's the whole experience, and it is often treated as an afterthought. Content design can be a low cost, high impact way to elevate the experience and help users

12) Pace and rhythm

A lot of design work doesn't fit nicely into two week sprints. To build experiences people love, and love to tell others about, give the team time to research, experiment and craft.

13) Big picture

Who is looking across your experience to make sure the work provides a holistic experience for your user? How are you managing consistency and avoiding waste of different teams building various different versions of buttons, patterns or templates? Lots of tiny inconsistencies drive friction

14) Friction costs

Understand what areas of your product generate most support calls or poor reviews. Have a top 5 problems list and keep it updated. Make a case that fixing them will save more than it cost to do the work.

15) Gravitational pull

Sometimes an organisation might have a strong CTO, and a strong CPO also with a tech background, and then the gravitational pull of the organisation is strongly towards tech. This is why I think it's important for product managers to understand design and the value it can bring, and why product managers with a design background can bring a fresh perspective.

I’ve tried to keep the list to high-impact areas, but it's a lot, I know. Don’t panic. No need to do everything on the list - instead think of it as a tool to shine a light on some areas that you might not have thought about yet.

Please reach out if I can help explain anything further

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Austin

Jane Austin
CPO & Founder of Laurel

Jane is an impressive Product Leader, boasting over 13 years of experience. She builds products for humans, that solve real problems, where experience is a differentiator, and ideally at organisations at an inflection point, whether that is a new phase of growth, having just closed a round of VC or PE funding, or going through a digital transformation.

She's also the founder of health tech start-up Laurel to support people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and the therapists treating them. She's currently working on their MVP so if you have OCD and want to know more please get in touch.

While she's working on this, she's available to support start-ups, scale-ups and digital transformation teams as fractional CPO/VP product/VP design and as a product or design leadership coach.

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