Thursday, February 5, 2015

From UX Strategy Mode into UX Design Mode

The artifacts that bring strategy alive and allow it to be communicated effectively are an essential part of the UX designer skill-set.

User/Customer Strategy has become an important element of corporate digital strategy, and the idea that the strategy envisions becomes real through UX Design. However, what do you do to effectively transition from UX Strategy mode into UX Design mode? What are all the ways and means you use to bridge UX Strategy to UX Design? How do you transition into design mode? How do you kick start the design process? What role does your strategy play as you progress through design and implementation? How should you apply your strategy deliverable during design? What role do your UX Strategists play in UX Design? How do you take UX design into agile teams and implement it smoothly?

Strategies inform the tactics. Strategy is a plan or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. UI design is tactic, an action intended to achieve a specific end. Strategies inform the tactics ... those actions intended to carry out the strategies. In reality, Agile teams will understand design, but may have trouble understanding the need or role of UX Strategy. It's necessary to bring a design strategy for any given project to life through storyboards, prototypes and stories of some sort, and this is where UX design plays in. So anyone in UX needs to be an advocate for making strategy a part of the design process and may need to fight for that role. The positive side is given the adaptive nature of agile teams once an argument can be made for its inclusion, teams can incorporate UX Strategy into the process pretty effectively.

The artifacts that bring strategy alive and allow it to be communicated effectively are an essential part of the UX designer skill-set. Pure strategy deliverable don’t often convey the potential reality. Sometimes the nature of final strategy deliverable differ depending on whether the work is pure strategy (which will be deliberated on before a decision to design and build is made) or instead strategy for design, which can go deeper into the conceptualization. On the strategical level, look at the overall business/operations, trying to understand culture, business, and both business and user needs and expectations. Business goals, visions and missions, features heavily in this. Look at where the reality is today and where they need or want to be, looking at the gap. The strategy, then, describes this gap and the journey needed to get there. Defining goals and KPIs is a vital part of this. On the tactical level, then, describes the solution that will help the client meet the vision or reach the goals. The result is a conceptual solution. It may consist of many different parts, over different channels - some may be organizational changes, for example, so not limited to digital solutions. Maybe there is a need for a new governance model, new ownership models, or there may be services needing a corresponding back-end organisation.

Either an individual designer or team needs to work on both simultaneously. That is, one needs to give time to both (switching between both seamlessly). Without strategy, a designer can start to lose the bigger picture. Without design, the grand plan never gets implemented or is done adequately. Even if a UX team is split between those who focus more on product strategy and those who focus more closely on design elements, they must work more collaboratively to make seamless design following the strategy, develop skills - either individually or within a team in visualizing the strategy and implement it.

So by definition, you're really never out of UI Strategy mode. Strategies and tactics run at different levels in your process with strategies running at a higher level of abstraction than tactics. Where designers and strategists often intersect will be in design standards; design evolutionary paths often related to expected availability of capabilities; managing risks and the means to reduce use errors. So a UI Strategist should be taking a long and informed view of what UI policies best serve or will best serve in the future the needs of the business or organization. The UI designers should be fully aware of those policies when initiating a design. A designer should be able to justify a design on the basis that the design furthers the policies as defined by the UI strategists. They need to work collaboratively to make strategy a living thing, and the design a true delight to their users and customers.


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