Why Growth Hacking Is UX Design

Sitting at the crossroads of engineering, data science, and creative marketing is a growing trend that the start-up industry has termed “growth hacking.” Although not quite a buzzword – yet, growth hacking is used to describe the rhythms that encourage quick and scalable growth for start-up companies.

Sean Ellis coined the term, and it arose out of the continuously evolving nature of digital channels and the distinct possibility of rapidly acquiring a vast user base in a relatively short period through these channels.

Creative Solutions to Growth-Related Problems: a Core Objective of Growth Hacking

Growth hacking is a mix of skill sets and unique methods driven by an unconventional marketing approach, engineering, creativity, data, and experimentation that enables growth hackers to develop and implement creative solutions to growth-related problems.

However (and most importantly), these creative solutions are backed by data analytics. Which means that growth hackers acquire, test, and analyze relevant data to gain a solid understanding of end users based on factual information as well as insights into the factors that control their purchasing decisions.

Understanding Virality Control

One of the significant facets of growth hacking is “virality control.” When something “goes viral,” it is usually an incident created by chance or circumstances outside of a marketer’s control; however, growth hackers aim to understand, control, and initiate this phenomenon at will.

By understanding the core motivations of consumers and what causes them to “want in” and “want more,” they can push past the outermost limits of contemporary marketing to achieve one objective – the ability to ensure the consistent success of any product that they create.

In essence, growth hackers are “lean marketers” who support marketing decisions with data, not just theories. They check for opportunities, ideate, rank ideas, test these ideas in controlled settings, analyze the findings before executing in campaigns, and then continuously optimize. Their one objective is rapid growth.

Growth Hacking Meets User Experience Design

UX designers create amazing products and seamless experiences to ensure that we meet users’ needs and desires. However, the efforts of a UX designer is all for nothing if the target audience isn’t aware of the product or service.

Even when users become aware of the product, getting them to sign up isn’t just enough, the product must have that “wow effect” that makes users become engaged with the product and refer their friends, family, and colleagues.

As such, successful UX design requires some adherence to the principles of the “pirate metrics” which covers these following areas

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referrals

Although not the primary goal, UX design is concerned about growth and leveraging consumer touch points to ensure rapid growth. Coincidentally, growth hackers have the same objectives.

Growth hackers also need to create products that have that “wow effect” on users, and as such, they utilize the pirate metrics when designing and implementing their marketing decisions.

Similarities Between UX Design and Growth Hacking

Let’s take a look at some of the similarities between UX design and growth hacking.


One of the things which growth hacking and UX design have in common is the dependency on data. Although UX design tends towards the use of qualitative data while growth hackers prefer quantitative data, both are critical to their objectives. Growth hackers collect and analyze data to know if customers are thoroughly engaged with the product and the channels through which they convert, while UX designers require data to see how and why a product is used. For both disciplines, data is the key to success.

Creativity and Innovation

Core skill sets for both disciplines is a knack for creativity and innovation. Growth hackers must think outside the box to develop innovative growth ideas as well as variations to conventional A/B test. On the other hand, UX designers must be creative and innovative to create intuitive solutions to users’ problems.

A Thorough Understanding of the Target Audience

To achieve their goals and objectives, UX designers and growth hackers must know and thoroughly understand their target audience. Good UX design entails knowing precisely who the target audience is and this is also crucial for growth hacking. Growth hackers need to know who to attract, and as such, they find and target the ideal customer profiles, not just “anyone.”

The Intersection of Growth Hacking and UX Design 

Although growth hackers and UX designers have different goals, and objectives, work in different departments and have different backgrounds, there are many instances where their professional interests intersect. Let’s look at some scenarios where growth hackers and UX designers can complement each others’ efforts.

Growth levers

Finding alternatives to conventional marketing techniques often requires growth hackers to transform the natural use of a product into growth levers. These growth levers come in various forms; they can be insights from usage data, incentives, backlinks, viral loops, or API integrations with other products.

Before using products as acquisition channels, they must be very good and this means designing an amazing user experience. As such, growth hackers should work together with UX designers to create product offerings that are irresistible to the target audience.

Creating virality

As explained above, one of the major facets of growth hacking is virality control and growth hackers are tasked with creating a product with inherent virality or using unconventional marketing tactics to make products go viral.

Growth hackers love when their products become viral because users begin to refer the products to their friends, who then refer them to their friends, and on and on and on – naturally creating a snowball effect.

However, this only works if the product itself is amazing and has great UX features. Since UX has a great impact on a company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), creating virality and acquiring more customers via referrals is more easily achieved with the creation of a better user experience.


At the end of the day, bad UX equals zero growth – something that growth hackers are allergic to. Although the value of UX design can be difficult to quantify and measure, it has a serious effect on the success of growth hacking. There is no point is attracting a lot of users if they cant be retained – and this is where UX design comes in.

In essence, growth hacking is all about designing an awesome UX using a data-driven approach. The end goal of growth hacking should be the hacking (improvement) of user experience to drive acquisition, engagement, retention, referrals, and ultimately, revenue.