Originally written for Magnet 360 Blog: Recently I went to the UX Roles and Titles: What do they mean? panel hosted by IxDA TC (Interaction Design Association, Twin Cities). Panelists’ titles ranged from UX Designer to VP of Experience and Engagement.
While some distinguished their role as largely visual by nature others described their position as research and strategy-heavy. I was intrigued by the unspoken interplay of User Experience versus Strategy.
Before I dive into the relationship between strategy and UX, an understanding and definition of how UX and Strategy fit together seems necessary.
I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time engrossed in debates over the rhetoric used around UX and Strategy, however at the core I believe:
- UX is about having empathy for audiences and takes a holistic view of their needs. UX should create and take action.
- When a company’s issues turn into problems and organizations are too entrenched to view larger solutions they often look for outside help. Providing a client Strategy is different than an internal plan. It’s about finding a partner that understands all the facets of an industry (marketplace, evolving technical environment, employee/partner/customer needs) to create a clear picture of steps that solve problems.
- The overall Strategy informs the UX that needs to be executed. A seamless customer experience is dependent on the strength of the overall Strategy.
At Magnet 360, we believe Strategy finds ways to enhance our clients’ understanding of their customer experience. Usually our clients have a general sense of the problem they need to solve but there might be oversight of the issues. Magnet 360 finds a solution by taking a holistic look at the problems the organizations is facing. We’ve found the best way to help businesses optimize opportunities is to use insights around their market, customer, and business. We may do that through contextual inquiries, stakeholder interviews, or a variety of other methods. Then we work with our clients to prioritize sub-issues using our own version of a KJ Technique. Customer experience, which is inclusive of Strategy and UX work in unison to inform a roadmap, pairing vision with actionable tasks for completion.
When approaching a problem, there are several tips on enhancing customer experience via a Strategy roadmap to assess and solve an organizational issue.
Using Strategy with UX:
- Before you begin, make sure your organization is ready to make a change. Most roadmaps will fail without all stakeholders buying into the vision.
- Hone in on the “so what” of your project. Make sure the “what” is clearly defined and then map all of efforts back to the “what.”
- Do not be afraid to ask “why?” Continuously questioning the relevance of the actions in the roadmap will ensure that you are always working towards the correct priorities.
- Have a clear understanding of to the current outlook of your business and where that vision needs to go.
- When it’s time to incorporate UX, thinking about it as “glorified graphic design” will prove incredibly limiting for all parties.
- Ask “Is what being created usable, desirable, and relevant?” at every touch point.
- Don’t skimp on stakeholder interviews and Voice of Customer (VOC) research. Both inputs are incredibly important to begin Strategy work and create well-informed UX.
- It is okay to break process. Strategy and UX are about providing value and picking up contextual clues to deliver the best solution.
- Identify what “done” looks like and ensure all stakeholders are aligned to those expectations.
User experience and Strategy are hot topics right now. There are many resources available — use them! A few places to start:
- Driven by Jared Spool who is often cited as pivotal force in the UX community, UIE supplies a number of resources which can be used as a jumping off point. Here is a complimentary article on UX Strategy to begin
- It’s Our Research series – available as a YouTube channel or in book format
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers
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