Thousands of articles are dedicated to the benefits of blogging. But there are much fewer articles that provide recommendations on what B2B businesses should write about. Among the many different topics that businesses can cover, there is one that is the most interesting for the audience — case studies.Case studies are by far the best sales tool for your business. They show your expertise, show your working process, establish your authority, and bring ready-to-buy customers to you, instead of seeking them out yourself.
This article will cover the techniques that you can follow to write better UX case studies.
1. Use storytelling techniques
Quite often, when UX designers write case studies, they focus on the deliverables and not the journey. But readers — other designers, hiring managers, potential clients — are less interested in the final products and more interested in how the person got to those products.
Design process is a journey that goes from the abstract idea to a real product. In many cases, this journey has a lot of challenges. And when you write a case study, your goal is to tell this story.
Follow the classic approach of telling a story — use a story arc. Here is just an example of what you can include in each part of the story:
- Exposition. Create a context for your readers. Write a short teaser for your project so the readers will know what it is all about. It’s also important to state design problem/challenge — this could be something as simple as a sentence or two that indicates what (business) problem you were solving. Also, mention project duration — How long did it take?
- Rising action. Have a clearly stated a goal and describe the process that you followed to achieve it. Tell readers about the multiple design approaches that you’ve tried, brainstorming sessions you’ve conducted, etc.
- Climax. Describe a solution that you’ve found. It’s an excellent place for Aha! moment.
- Falling action and Resolution. Tell about the design iterations that you went through to make the final product and the feedback that you’ve got from your audience.
A story arc. Image: Study.com
2. Introduce your team
It’s not difficult to take credit for an entire project that was completed by a group. But when it comes to a large-scale project, it’s hard to imagine that a single person can be responsible for the entire design.
Thus, it’s always better not to exaggerate your contribution to a project. Remember, honesty is the best policy: if you haven’t done a particular activity, don’t list it in your work! Be explicit and honest about your role and who you worked with.
Don’t pretend to be a UX unicorn — an elusive designer who has multiple skills in all of the main areas of design. Instead, be upfront about your particular skills and use your experience to communicate why they are important. Think of your design skills in terms of being a T-shaped person. The “T-shaped” concept implies that there are certain skills that one must have in order to call oneself a professional (the crossbar), and other skills that one specializes in (the stem).
Give credit to all the people who participated in creating a product. By doing that you not only add more weight to the project but also demonstrate that you can work in a team. Ideally, you want to tell about:
- Your team — Who were your partners? Provide names and links to their LinkedIn profiles.
- Your role — How did you contribute to the team?
3. Describe your research ideation techniquesThe part that describes your design process is perhaps the most important part of your case study. As a UX Designer, following and explaining the overall process is something that you should take very seriously because you’ll be judged in large part by your process.
Research and ideation are two essential parts of the design process because they set a foundation for the design phase.
It’s a well-known fact that the more you invest in user research, the better solution you will have at the end of your design process. A good case study always explains the research behind the deliverable. Describe your users in terms of their needs, motivation and pain points. Mention the tools that you’ve used in order to find more insights about your target audience (e.g. user personas, empathy maps, etc).
When it comes to describing your ideation phase, don’t just say ‘After XXX hours we finally found the solution.’ Describe in detail the process you’ve followed when searching for the right solution. The more complex the challenge you face, the more people will be interested in reading about the approach you’ve followed when working on a product.
Provide answers to the following questions:
- How did you solve the problem?
- Why did you choose that particular solution, and what influenced your decision?
4. Show the evolution of your concept
When it comes to design assets, many designers skip the iterative nature of product development and share a final, highly-polished version of a design. Don’t do that. Don’t focus on just the destination. Remember that you need to tell a complete story.
When you skip the chapters of your journey, it will give a wrong impression for beginners (people will start to believe that it’s possible to create great design right from the first attempt) and prevent experienced readers from getting interesting insights. More than just seeing a well-made product, most people want to know how you solved the problem. It’s essential to show that your work had a process and that it didn’t just magically appear. Thus, show how paper sketches evolved into the final high-fidelity product.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak about your mistakes
All people make mistakes. When it comes to UX design, don’t pretend like you never made an incorrect assumption or stated a weak hypothesis. Instead, be frank about the mistakes that you made during the design process and share what you’ve learned by overcoming them. Demonstrate your problem-solving skills — convey your ability to apply the right tools and methods to solve a problem.
6. Provide a link to the interactive prototype or a link to a real product
When it comes to final product showcase, you need to provide more than just hi-fi mocks or videos with your product. It’s much better to provide either a link to the high-fidelity prototype or the real product. Let the readers experience it. When readers can download and play with your design, it will help them better understand your design decisions.
7. Include the section with testing
If your case study does not have a part that shows the results of usability testing and feedback from real users, chances are your readers will doubt your design decisions. Thus, try to cover your testing process in details — when and how you tested your product.
This section should answer the following questions:
- How did you test your solution? What testing techniques did you use?
- How did you measure success/failure?
8. Summarize your thoughts
Summary (or conclusion) should be a final chapter of your case study. It’s an excellent place to provide answers to the following questions:
- What did you accomplish? Showcase the value you brought to the company that hired you.
- What did you learn? Summarize what you’ve learned from the project.
Writing great UX case studies require a lot of effort, but it’s worth it. If you succeed, your case studies will demonstrate the depth of your abilities as a designer, showcase your thought process, and give potential employers or clients insight into what it might be like to work with you. But what’s more important — you’ll help other people solve similar problems, and this ultimately helps them create better products.
PS. For maximum impact, include a section with results. What was the conversion rate before? How did it improve after? Include any other KPIs that were positively impacted: time on site, engagement, average order value, customer lifetime value, anything else that is applicable. The close the KPI is linked to revenue, the better.