UI/UX Career: The C.E.R. Framework | by Nick Lawrence | May, 2023

The goal of the C.E.R. framework is to help you position yourself correctly so that when a potential customer reaches out, or when you reach out to a potential customer, you are in the best possible position to land them as a client.

Let’s get into it.

1. Certainty

The very first thing that people need and want in order to make a purchase decision, or any form of contractual agreement, is certainty.

→ Certainty that you can address their problem, and solve their pain effectively.

There are several factors that go into this:

  • Skills — what you can do for them
  • Presentation — how you appear to them
  • Credibility — why and how they can trust you in the form of trust, authority, and clear proof of results.

Establishing certainty in the mind of your prospects is paramount to your ability to close them as customers, and help them solve their problems.

2. Exclusivity

The next thing people need is a reason to choose you over every single other designer on the planet that offers similar results to what you offer.

They must perceive and believe that:

→ You and you alone can solve their pain in the ways they need and want.

To effectively create exclusivity, you must create and inhabit a service category of your own, with a unique offer tailored to your prospective customer’s specific pain.

You’ve gotta be the best, and only, real, immediate option for solving their specific problem in the way they need and want it solved.

If there’s a better, faster, cheaper, or easier alternative that can solve their specific problem, why would they go with you?

Short answer: they wouldn’t, and they won’t.

3. Reliability

Finally, a person needs to know that you are reliable.

→ If they ever experience their pain again, they can come back to you, and you can solve it again consistently.

This is key, because most people don’t want one-offs, they want someone they can come back to as their design person, who’s gonna do exactly what they need, and who can solve their pain time and time again.

This normally takes the form of:

  • Longstanding service within an area
  • Current relationships with other, similar customers
  • Guarantees
  • Warranties, and
  • Commitments to your customers

— — — — — — — — — — — — —

If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around all this, don’t worry. I’ve got a metaphor which will make this framework much simpler for you to work with mentally.


Let’s break this down into a metaphor which will be much easier to follow:

Imagine that your services are a berry bush out in the middle of a forest.

Now imagine that a person wanders up to that bush, begins to observe, and consider it.

Seeking mode vs Content mode in action

→ The first question, seeking mode vs content mode: is that person hungry enough to eat a berry off a random bush in the middle of the forest?

If not, they’ll pass you up, because for all they know you could be poisonous. They are content, and don’t need your services.

But if they ARE, especially if they’re starving, we move onto C.E.R.

Moving into the C.E.R. framework

  1. Certainty: can you solve their pain effectively? If they eat your berries are they going to get poisoned? Are any animals dead around the bush or did they scare off a deer who was happily eating their fill of the berries?
    → Once they have established certainty, they move onto exclusivity.
  2. Exclusivity: there is still an element of danger even if there is clear evidence that your berries are not poisonous. So the next question becomes: is there any better way to stop being hungry, or do they need to take the risk and try the berries?
    → If there’s no better way in the immediate vicinity, and there is clear evidence that the berries are not poisonous, they will try the berries out of necessity.
  3. Reliability: now that they’ve tried the berries, and the berries are really good, now they’re going to return home having eaten their fill and do two things: remember where the berry bush is, and tell their friends.
    You want both, and when they and their friends return, the best way to ensure consistent that recurrence of behavior is to consistently provide that solution.
    → In this case, you bear fruit for their consumption every time they return to you, which reinforces them coming back.

To recap and summarize

  • Your services are a berry bush in the forest.
  • Your prospective customers come upon and consider your services.
  • If they have immediate need rooted in pain (in this case hunger), they move into C.E.R. If not, they’ll normally pass you up.
  • Certainty: are you legit and not going to poison them?
  • Exclusivity: are you the only viable option in the immediate area?
  • Reliability: can they return to you and have their problem solved again?

So what does all of this mean for you as a designer?

  • You can leverage the C.E.R. framework to position yourself correctly so that when a potential customer reaches out, or when you reach out to a potential customer, you are in the best possible position to land them as a client.
  • C.E.R. stands for Certainty, Exclusivity, and Reliability, and is the backbone of your ability to convert prospective customers.
  • If your prospective customers are NOT in seeking mode, that is to say that they are not experiencing pain and problems bad enough to warrant them actively seeking a solution, they will not convert.
  • If you can show your prospects that they can be certain of their outcomes with you, that you are exclusively the only one that can solve their problems the way they need, and that you can reliably service them time and time again, they will almost always convert, and you will almost always be able to retain them as a paying customer for a long period of time.

The next time you find yourself wondering why you can’t seem to land clients, give this framework a shot, and watch what happens.

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