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Upsell ux midwestux2012

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  • I’m Jim Laing and this is Upselling UX.
  • -- Been in the profession less than five years-- How many people here have been in the profession less than five years? (Show of hands)
  • -- Started my career in the field of UX in 2007, attending the University of Michigan, School of -- Worked for Adobe in 2009 and 2010, doing user research on their Experience Design team-- From 2010 until just recently, I was an Experience Architect at ITHAKA, makers of JSTOR. -- Next week, I start a new job as a designer at a technology consultancy in Pittsburgh called Summa. -- Most of my experience thus far has been working on in-house user experience teams. How many of you are in-house? (show of hands)-- That’s my perspective on UX’s role in strategy
  • -- I’ve recently come to understand better why and how UX should be engaged in strategy, and that’s what I want to talk about today
  • --A developer comes to you or your team member and asks you for a recommendation on a particular portion of the interface or step in the workflow. -- You don’t know who that feature is targeting, how that use relates to other users of the product, or what experience you’re optimizing for. -- While you’re able to make a guess based on best practices and usability heuristics, deep down you know that it is just that: a guess. -- Soon you’re making hundred of guesses, and it feels like your entire job is to make small decisions when other people cannot.
  • -- Or how about a product manager asks you to run a few usability tests on a new feature of the site. -- You’re able to find a few problems with the workflow, and make some concrete suggestions, but you’re confused and disappointed when those suggestions are largely ignored. -- You get the sense that either the product manager doesn’t care about UX and usability, or that your suggestions were somehow off the mark. -- In these situations, you can get bitter and grow to believe that the organization doesn’t have the will to fix simple usability problems. -- But maybe the problem is that you don’t understand what’s important to the product manager, who specifically they care about, and what defines success for them.
  • -- @orst case scenario is certainly when your suggestions *are* taken into account, and the UX team helps to builds a product that is fantastically usable and delightful. And it launches … and no one uses it. -- In this case, none of the stakeholders understood what was important about the product and what wasn’t-- All of that great design work was for nothing. -- It’s clear that there was an opportunity for UX to help shape the direction of the product by representing the needs and desires of users. Have people experienced any of these scenarios or something similar? -- In all of these, a very important type of information is missing: an understanding of why – why this button? Why this workflow? Why this feature? Why these users? Why this product? -- The answers to these why questions lie in understanding strategy. Specifically, the product strategy, but also how it relates to the business strategy and organizational strategy. As someone new the field, this can be a very opaque topic, and it is difficult to understand a UX team’s role in product strategy, so I’d like to share a few of the things I’ve learned.
  • First off, what is strategy? How many people hear this word almost every day?How many people feel like they have a firm grasp on the definition?
  • -- One of the most confusing things about strategy is that it is a relative term. Some people like to talk as if there is a firm category of things that are strategy, but I don’t think that’s the case.--I recently moved, and my friends and I talked about our “strategy” for loading the moving truck – big things up front and to the sides, heavy things toward the bottom and light things on top. -- In organizations, we talk about our mission and our business strategy and we also talk about our content strategy, our technology strategy, and our talent retention strategy. -- I don’t think any of these are wrong uses of the word, but it is does show that it is a slippery word, and difficult for a new UXer to understand. However, all these uses point to a few attributes that I think help define the word…
  • Planning:Figuring out the big picture before you get into the details.
  • Decision-making: Making a few big decisions that guide you in making lots of smaller decisions.
  • Increasing the effectiveness of an effort:Understanding the “why” for every decision … and the why for that why.
  • Like I said, it is a relative term on a continuum. -- The bigger the picture, the longer term the plan, the bigger the decision, and the more important the why, the more strategic something is. -- What’s missing from the scenarios we just talked through is a sense of productstrategy or site strategy. That’s the focus of this talk - Why are we making whatever it is we’re making? And who, specifically, are we making it for?-- If UX is going to be effective in actually shaping and improving the experience of using a product in a way that matters to users, it’s necessary to engage with the product strategy
  • Before we talk about how you can be more engaged with product strategy, let me address a question that you may or may not be wondering: what does any of this have to do with user experience design? You might be saying: I just want to design! if I wanted to be involved in product strategy, I would’ve been a product manager. Well, I may have some bad news for you … There’s another word that it somewhat hard to define, but can often be taken to mean something about planning or making a plan, is a form of setting up a framework for decision-making, and the whole point is to increase the effectiveness of site or product. Of course, I’m talking about design.
  • Like strategy, design exists on a spectrum. Some things are more designed and others are less designed or implicitly designed
  • -- Designs ARE plans-- Like strategies, they define where we’re going and they suggest how we’re going to get there.
  • -- Designing is a process of making decisions – of all the things something could be, deciding which it should be.-- Should it be this? Or should it be that?
  • -- And design should always be about increasingeffectiveness-- what problem are we trying to solve and how are we solving it?
  • (DON’T READ THIS TWEET)Of course, I’m not the first person to notice this, but I know it can be confusing for people new to UX – we have these two terms that we use quite a bit, that we know are super important.Combine this with all of our other nomenclature issues – the “a-word” is Dan’s tweet above is “architecture” – and it can be hard to figure this all out: what’s different, what’s the same, and what differences matter.
  • -- Aside from all of the nomenclature issues, there are two fundamental types of design (at least …), and that can be a genuine point of confusion here.-- I like how Jesse James Garrett labels them “Abstract Design” and “Concrete Design”, side-stepping all of the DTDT issues.--You can see how abstract design is split in half by the strategic/tactical line. Concrete design is what most people think about when they think about “designer” anything. --Abstract design has more to do with what a thing is – what problem is it solving? Where and why will people use it? Whereas concrete design is concerned with how a thing looks and how it operates – how usable something is.
  • -- Getting involved with abstract design and engaging product strategy starts with the types of tasks I layed out in the initial scenarios -- Requests for wireframes or usability test: Theses are opportunities to upsell UX. -- So, how it’s done?
  • It’s actually very simple …
  • -- I’ve been using the vague term of “Engage” with strategy. -- That engagement has 3 phases – understand, critique, and shaping or helping shape.
  • Step 1 of upselling is to understand the product strategy.-- This phase is all about discovering the bigger picture. -- The key here is to be explicit … tying specific design decisions to the bigger picture. Aligning your work to strategy. -- It could be that you don’t know what it is or it could be that no one knows, so this is about both building your own understanding and building a shared understanding.
  • -- Step 2 is being able to critique the product strategy. -- This is where you show how the product strategy might be at odds with specific user motivations or design constraints. -- You’re still an outsider here to product strategy, but you’re making it clear why it matters to you and what you have to offer
  • Step 3 is where you want to be, in order to do effective design. -- This is where product strategy is informed by the experience it will create and your understanding of users. -- You’re able to represent users, their needs, motivations, and limitations when choosing to create a new product or in looking for new business opportunities.
  • Okay, so those are the three phases of upselling UX … let’s talk about what it looks like.
  • -- The most fundamental thing you can do is ask “Why?”: Good user experiences are made by creating a “chain of whys” all the way from “Why is that button there” to “Why are we promoting that feature?” to “Why would that user want to use that feature?” to “Why are we targeting that user?” to “Why would that person use our product?” to “Why are we building this product?”. -- Indulge your inner 4 year old. -- A tweet I remember from awhile back said something like “The most important design tool is asking questions …”-- “Why” is a great question because of the way it moves up the chain from the specifics to the idea. --Don’t stop until you’re satisfied that you understand how your work fits into the organizational big picture
  • -- After you understand and make explicit the strategy, you’re able to being critiquing the strategy – finding the weak links in the chain of whys. -- Which links don’t match up with known heuristics or your understanding of user motivations?-- One key deliverable here is a risk report – highlighting how the strategy may or may not line up with user expectations
  • -- Or, if you find that you can’t figure out the strategy, perhaps that’s a signal that no one actually knows what the strategy is – that can be both a huge challenge and a golden opportunity. -- It’s here that you can really open up your UX toolkit to introduce your users to the organization. -- You can use user research to describe a user-centered strategy: tell people what your users want and how it will create value in their lives. -- Use personas and storytelling to emphasize with the users and define who the organization should be focusing on and why.
  • This could be a whole presentation in and of itsself:--As a new UXer, I think this is really easy to screw this up – I know I have come in to a project with an attitude of “This whole thing is done wrong, and I’m an expert. Let me tell you how to fix it …” When it comes to engaging it strategy, this won’t fly, because strategy is high stakes
  • -- This can be in tension with my first tip of asking why constantly, so it is important to take them together-- Like I said, be explicit about why strategy is important to your work. This demonstrates the value of you being engaged in strategy
  • -- Stakeholders need to be assured that you want what they want: a successful product and a successful organization. Be participant in the conversation – empathize with product stakeholders the way you empathize with users. Understand what they value and why, and help them to see where that aligns with user goals and where it does not. -- You need to walk the thin line between belief and skepticism – accepting the product strategy as it is given to you and doing your best to make sure it is successful, while at the same time looking for weaknesses and concerns and opportunities to include the user along the way.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Upselling UX: Moving from Pixels to Strategy Jim Laing – @jhlaing MidwestUX 2012
    • 2. Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 2 About Me • I’m pretty new here – I started in UX and design less than 5 years ago • Most of my experience has been in-house • I remember what its like not to know about UX’s role in strategy
    • 3. 3 About Me • I’m pretty new here – I started in UX and design less than 5 years ago • Most of my experience has been in-house • I remember what its like not to understand UX’s role in strategy Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 4. 4 About Me • I’m pretty new here – I started in UX and design less than 5 years ago • Most of my experience has been in-house • I remember what its like not to understand UX’s role in strategy Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 5. A Few Scenarios 5Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 6. 6 A Few Scenarios Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 7. 7 A Few Scenarios Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 8. What is Strategy? 8Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 9. Strategy is … • Strategy is relative • Strategy is about planning • Strategy is about decision making • Strategy is about increasing effectiveness 9Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 10. Strategy is … • Strategy is relative • Strategy is about planning • Strategy is about decision making • Strategy is about increasing effectiveness 10Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 11. Strategy is … • Strategy is relative • Strategy is about planning • Strategy is about decision making • Strategy is about increasing effectiveness 11Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 12. Strategy is … • Strategy is relative • Strategy is about planning • Strategy is about decision making • Strategy is about increasing effectiveness 12Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 13. Focus: Product Strategy 13 Less Strategic More Strategic Organizational Mission Current business strategy Product strategy Content or technology strategy Interface design strategy Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 14. Strategy and Design 14Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 15. Design, like strategy, is relative 15Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 16. Design is about planning 16Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 17. Design is about decision making 17Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 18. Design is about increasing effectiveness 18Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 19. 19Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 20. 20 Two Types of Design Concrete design: what most people think of when they think about design. What a thing looks like and how it operates. Abstract design: What a thing is. What problem is it solving? Where and why will people use it? Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing The Nine Pillars – Jesse James Garrett – www.jjg.net/ia/files/pillars.pdf
    • 21. Concrete design and usability are the thin end of the wedge 21Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 22. Upselling UX 22Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 23. How the Upsell Works: • What it looks like: 3 phases • How you do it: 2 things you need to build 23Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 24. What It Looks Like – 3 phases Understand the product strategy Critique the strategy Help shape the strategy 24Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 25. What It Looks Like – 3 phases Understand the product strategy 25Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 26. What It Looks Like – 3 phases Understand the product strategy Critique the strategy 26Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 27. What It Looks Like – 3 phases Understand the product strategy Critique the strategy Help shape the strategy 27Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 28. How the Upsell Works: • What it looks like: 3 phases • How you do it: 2 things you need to build 28Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing
    • 29. Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 29 How – Build a Chain of Whys Understand Critique Shape Ask why constantly What parts of the chain seem like weak links? Where is the user not considered? Do user research and suggest new chains
    • 30. Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 30 How – Build a Chain of Whys Understand Critique Shape Ask why constantly What parts of the chain seem like weak links? Where is the user not considered? Do user research and suggest new chains
    • 31. Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 31 Ask why constantly What parts of the chain seem like weak links? Where is the user not considered? Do exploratory user research and suggest new chains How – Build a Chain of Whys Understand Critique Shape
    • 32. How Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 32 Understand Critique Shape The other thing you need to build is … trust
    • 33. How Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 33 Understand Critique Shape The other thing you need to build is … trust
    • 34. How – Build Trust Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 34 Get (more) engaged with strategy Demonstrate (more) value and build (more) trust Understand Critique Shape
    • 35. How – Build Trust Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 35 Understand Critique Shape • Don’t be an expert • Empathize with your stakeholders
    • 36. In Summary • Strategy and design are the same thing – you already have the tools you need • Without being engaged in strategy, you can’t create great experiences • Concrete design and usability testing are the thin end of the wedge • Engagement with strategy moves from understanding to critiquing to helping shape • Along the way, build a chain of whys and constantly build trust Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 36
    • 37. Thanks! Jim Laing – Upselling UX – @jhlaing 37