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Setting better objectives for digital design projects


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Setting clear objectives and ensuring the whole team understands them is a key success factor in digital projects.

This deck is designed to accompany a workshop I run with teams at digital agencies. It represents my current thinking on - why objectives are important
- what useful objectives look like for digital projects
- how to work with clients to define useful objectives.
Please feel free to spread the ideas. If you do, I would really appreciate a credit using my twitter handle @docket.
Keen to get feedback to so feel free to comment.

Published in: Internet
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Setting better objectives for digital design projects

  1. 1. Setting Better Objectives! ! ! Alastair Lee | | @docket! Factors that influence the success of design projects are often not directly related to the designer or the design work itself. It’s often about getting: • the right environment • the right mix of people in the team • the right timescales • the right relationship with stakeholders • and the right brief - with useful objectives
  2. 2. productpanda.com2 It seems simple, but in the rush to get on, we often assume everyone shares the same view of what we’re doing and why, when it’s actually not the case. This can lead to problems later on, when crucial design decisions need to be made and there is no agreed criteria for making them.
  3. 3. productpanda.com3 Today ! 1. Why bother setting objectives? 2. Terminology 3. What do good objectives look like? 4. How to set good objectives with clients
  4. 4. productpanda.com4 Part 1. 
 Why bother? So why is it important?
  5. 5. productpanda.com5 “If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will do” CS Lewis
  6. 6. productpanda.com6 “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all” Peter Drucker
  7. 7. productpanda.com7 FOCUS Clear objectives • gather the team • enable you to prioritise and say no • enable a more harmonious client relationship, where you share a clear goal
  8. 8. productpanda.com8 MOTIVATION Designers like a challenge Designers often don’t like being told what to do. With clear objectives you can give your team the autonomy to make their own decisions According to Daniel Pink’s book Drive - Autonomy is one of three key factors in motivating people
  9. 9. productpanda.com9 PROOF Have you ever wondered if what you were doing was worth the clients money? Having clear measurable objectives agreed in advance, explicitly tied to business goals enables you to prove ROI When that happens the boss becomes interested and you can engage at a more senior level
  10. 10. productpanda.com10 BETTER WORK And it tends to lead to better work and all that goes with it - new business, happy staff, easy recruitment, awards etc. It’s a good thing.
  11. 11. productpanda.com11 Part 2. Terminology
  12. 12. productpanda.com12 What is an objective?
  13. 13. productpanda.com13 ! A thing aimed at or sought - a goal! Oxford English Dictionary
  14. 14. productpanda.com14 A goal that is striven for Wikipedia For me a ‘goal’ is a bit wooly. It implies a lofty ambition. For me objectives should be, well, objective - meaning someone from outside the project should be able to look at what you set out to do and what you have done and say yes, you have achieved your aim.
  15. 15. productpanda.com15 Objective = What you aim to achieve For me an objective is what you aim to acheive. ‘Achieve' implies it’s done and you can prove it. If you objective is to buy a car then when you get the keys you’ve achieved it. If your objective is to become a wonderful piano player - that’s more of a goal, an ambition even.
  16. 16. productpanda.com16 What is a KPI?
  17. 17. productpanda.com17 A way to evaluate the success of a particular activity in which you are engaged Wikipedia A Key Performance Indicator does just that, it indicates performance, e.g. • Unique users • Customer lifetime value • Page load time
  18. 18. productpanda.com18 Objective = What you aim to achieve = How you measure progressKPI
  19. 19. productpanda.com19 What is a requirement?
  20. 20. productpanda.com20 A thing that is compulsory; a necessary condition Oxford English Dictionary • it must be on Drupal 7 • it needs to used by people in Spain • it needs to be done by Sep 12 • not all ‘requirements’ are real, many are preferences, be sure to distinguish between the two
  21. 21. productpanda.com21 Objective = What you aim to achieve = How you measure progressKPI = Something you can’t changeRequirement
  22. 22. productpanda.com22 What is a tactic?
  23. 23. productpanda.com23 An action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end Oxford English Dictionary • You could substitute ‘feature’, or ‘activity’ in here. It’s something you do to meet an objective. It’s not an objective in itself.
  24. 24. productpanda.com24 = Something you can’t changeRequirement Objective = What you aim to achieve = How you measure progressKPI = Part of a proposed solutionTactic
  25. 25. productpanda.com25 Objective = Sell more shoes = Sales volumeKPI = English, French, SpanishRequirement = Personalised recommendationsTactic
  26. 26. productpanda.com26 Objective = Reduce marketing costs = Cost Per AcquisitionKPI = Display ads remain as plannedRequirement = Content marketing pushTactic
  27. 27. productpanda.com27 KPIs Objective Tactics Requirements ✓ • Objectives and the associated requirements and KPIs should come first. Tactics are a response.
  28. 28. productpanda.com28 KPIs TacticsObjectives Requirements ✕ • However often clients come with pre-defined tactics and requirements. And the objectives are hazy. This is not so good. Clients are not always best placed to judge what tactics will best achieve their objectives.
  29. 29. • What is the objective, KPI, requirement and tactic here?
  30. 30. productpanda.com30 Part 3. What does a good objective look like?
  31. 31. productpanda.com31 A good objective is… 2. S.M.A.R.T. 1. Pitched at the right level!
  32. 32. productpanda.com32 • What it this man’s objective?
  33. 33. productpanda.com33 Be happy WHY? Catch bus! Be punctual Build relationships Get promoted Do interesting work Successful career • By asking why ? we can see ever higher objectives, that are more interesting to work on
  34. 34. productpanda.com34 Be happy Successful career Do interesting work Get promoted Be punctual Impress boss Catch bus! STRATEGIC TACTICAL • There are many tactical objectives contributing to less strategic ones
  35. 35. productpanda.com35 • What is his objective?
  36. 36. productpanda.com36 HOW? World domination Eliminate USSR & USA Cause nuclear war Steal rockets Launch spacecraft Build lair Find lair architect
  37. 37. productpanda.com37 World domination Eliminate USSR & USA Cause nuclear war Steal rockets Build lair Launch spacecraft Find lair architect STRATEGIC TACTICAL • By asking ‘how?’ we can move down the stack
  38. 38. productpanda.com38 Shoe Corp. • Lets take a mythical shoe company…
  39. 39. productpanda.com39 Maximise profits STRATEGIC Sales Prices Costs Productivity Revenues Wage bill Cost of acquisition ↑↑ ↑ ↑ ↑↑ ↑ TACTICAL Working environment Online sales Shift brand perceptions↑ Offline sales↑Head count ↑ Staff morale↑↑ Customer lifetime value↑Outsource production Engage young professionals Online conversion↑Traffic↑Brand awareness↑ ↑ SEO↑ Checkout flow Reduce form steps Restructure IA↑ Content marketing↑ Youtube channel Average txn value Visual refresh ATL Campaign ↑ Repeat visits↑ Loyalty club • The shoe corp pyramid might look like this. My view is that there is a fuzzy line where business objectives merge with digital tactics. You want to stay above that line if you can.
  40. 40. productpanda.com40 Right level =! The highest level business objective you can prove your impact on • If your line is too high then there will be too many other factors and you can’t prove a link • If it’s too low then it’s not clear how you are helping the actual business
  41. 41. productpanda.com41 A good objective is… 2. S.M.A.R.T. 1. Pitched at the right level ✓ • So on to number 2
  42. 42. productpanda.com42 Specific
 Measurable! Attainable! Relevant! Time-bound • Specific - no room for ambiguity, there for all to see. Not lose weight, but loose 2cm of your waistline or 5lbs in a month. • Measurable - If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. find a metric you can keep track of and one that proves you’re done. • Attainable - in needs to be within reach or you’ll lose motivation. get team to agree, but push them • Relevant - clear link to the goal above it • Time-bound - give yourself as deadline - doesn’t have to be client facing.
  43. 43. productpanda.com43 Dumb version I want to lose weight! ! S.M.A.R.T. version I want to lose 5lbs by June 30th! • Simple example
  44. 44. productpanda.com44 Dumb version Encourage increased donations! ! S.M.A.R.T. version Increase the average online donation size* from £20 to £23 by the end of the year.! *Measured monthly • Simple example
  45. 45. productpanda.com45 By the end of 2015 we will increase the average customer lifetime value (CLV) from £400 to £500. KPIs • Repeat visits • Basket size 
 Assumptions • Marketing strategy does not change • We do design and FE dev • Project goes live end of March 2015 Increase customer lifetime value • more likely business example
  46. 46. productpanda.com46 In the next 6 months we will engage 50,000 young professionals in a conversation about classic shoe styles on Facebook.! • To count as engaged, the user must Like, comment or share CR content containing key messages • Young professionals are defined by Facebook’s Graph algorithm Engage with young professionals • Another
  47. 47. productpanda.com47 A good objective is… 2. S.M.A.R.T. 1. Pitched at the right level ✓ ✓
  48. 48. productpanda.com48 Part 4. But what about clients? • yeah but…. clients
  49. 49. productpanda.com49 Clients are your users • If you are a designer, you need to think about the needs of your users. Clients are your users too
  50. 50. productpanda.com50 Understand where they are coming from…
  51. 51. • This can help
  52. 52. productpanda.com52 …then decode what they are saying
  53. 53. productpanda.com53 Engagement & Reach Reach Engagement Data capture Increase revenue New donors Existing donors Spend per donation Marketing efficiency Reduce cost Staff spend Cust. services spend Licences and equipment Influence policy and others Increase impact Communication and info. Better services Better UX Increase volunteering Add new volunteers Retain existing volunteers Increase activity Likely objectives for charities • There are not that many objectives that they can have, really. And certain ones will crop up again and again. Here’s a list for charities for example.
  54. 54. productpanda.com54 Ask questions to fill gaps in understanding • Can I just check your interpretation of… • What is driving that requirement? • Which of your business objectives do you see this supporting • How would we measure that? • What would success look like? • What else is going on that supports this objective?
  55. 55. productpanda.com55 What happens when there are lots of objectives?
  56. 56. productpanda.com56 PRIORITISE
  57. 57. productpanda.com57 Dot voting • Which is more important, repeat visits or new users? Conversion rate or basket size? • Stakeholders get three m&ms each and vote with them (see Lean UX and Gamestorming)
  58. 58. productpanda.com58 Effort vs Impact High Effort Low Effort Low 
 Impact High 
 Impact • Another way to do it. Perceived impact vs perceived effort. This will help prioritise.
  59. 59. productpanda.com59 Summary 1. Empathise with the client 2. Think about out their pyramid and fill in gaps 3. Find business objectives where you can measure your impact 4. Gather team and create smart objectives to support the business obj. 5. Prioritise 6. Measure as you go
  60. 60. productpanda.com60 Thank you