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Happily Ever After: Pain-Free Prioritization


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If the Design Process were a boy band, Feature Prioritization would never be the fan favorite with a breakout solo career. Prioritization isn’t sexy. It hurts to let go of the beloved features created during brainstorming. The decision-making design phase often involves negotiation and compromise in an uncomfortable social environment. Prioritization can be downright painful!

If only you could recapture the enthusiasm and creative glow of brainstorming. Well, wish no longer! Design fairy godmothers Carolyn Chandler and Anna van Slee are here to transform this pumpkin into a stage coach. Strap in!

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Happily Ever After: Pain-Free Prioritization

  1. 1. Download the app! Stop Motion Studio • Available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play • Make sure you get the FREE version • Published by Cateater, LLC.
  2. 2. Pain-Free Prioritization
  3. 3. Carolyn Chandler Anna van Slee@chanan @adventuringanna Adventures in Experience Design
 Activities for Beginners
  4. 4. Prioritization… Why is it so damn HARD?
  5. 5. Features generation is a journey through forests, trees, and weeds…
  6. 6. …and traffic pictures change.
  7. 7. Assumptions get made left and right.
  8. 8. People fall in love… 
 and get their hearts broken
  9. 9. Prioritization… Why is it so damn IMPORTANT?
  10. 10. If it’s done badly you have a product with holes.
  11. 11. What primary product does Starbucks sell?
  12. 12. What experience does Starbucks sell?
  13. 13. bad prioritization leads to: frustration, loss of trust, and missed opportunities For your product’s users…
  14. 14. Prioritization done well inspires love and trust
  15. 15. Agenda! What are we going to accomplish today? • Foundations for strategic design • Intro to your case study • Teamwork to generate feature ideas, then prioritize together
  16. 16. FoundationsFollow the yellow brick road
  17. 17. Company Values User Insights Role Priorities • Clarifying values • Forming design principles • Research • User models (like personas) • Business • User • Technology
  18. 18. Teams get frustrated if they’re reacting all the time
  19. 19. What makes your team more strategic? 1. A thriving foundation of company values and brand attributes
  20. 20. Design Principles Brand-rooted guiding statements that help your team make decisions about which features to build, and how they work
  21. 21. Antoni Gaudi Value: Harmony The essential quality of a work of art is harmony. In sculptural works, harmony derives from the light that gives it relief and decorates it. Principles on Light • The amount of light should be just right, not too much, not too little, since having too much or too little light can both cause blindness […] • 45 degrees is the angle that best defines bodies and shows us the form.
  22. 22. What makes your team more strategic? 1. A thriving foundation of company values and brand attributes 2. Insight into real problems, and user needs and behaviors
  23. 23. BEGINNER BEN Personal Information Age: 19 years old College student at Uni- versity of Illinois, majoring in Civil Engineering Lives on campus in Cham- paign during the school year and spends summers at home working Ben uses: About Ben at age 12. Now he’s an outgoing, bright engineering student who gets good grades at school. He knows he currently lacks the experience to get the job experience now. Goals Study abroad in Copenhagan for a semester Gain the experience that will help him start working immediately after com- pleting his undergraduate degree Frustrations Ben is learning hard skills in his classes, but hasn’t been able to apply them to any jobs or internships directly related to his area of interest. in class, but most job sites focus on professional experience. Activities By night, he works part-time and occasionally attends on-campus workshops
  24. 24. Profile Comparisons
  25. 25. What makes your team more strategic? 1. A thriving foundation of company values and brand attributes 2. Insight into real problems, and user needs and behaviors 3. A focus on business vision/objectives, maintaining an awareness of what’s important, feasible and next
  26. 26. What makes your team more strategic? 1. A thriving foundation of company values and brand attributes 2. Insight into real problems, and user needs and behaviors 3. A focus on business vision/objectives, maintaining an awareness of what’s important, feasible and next 4. The ability to work with others to gain this knowledge and make it part of decision-making
  27. 27. Welcome to Happily Ever After You’re hired! Imagine that you work at Happily Ever After, an app developer that’s focused on mobile movie-making. We’re a small company of 50 people including developers, visual designers, user experience designers and business stakeholders.
  28. 28. Stop Motion What is it? Why do we care?
  29. 29. What is stop motion? What is it? • Stop motion is an animation technique that makes inanimate objects appear as if they are moving. • Essentially, stop motion is a series of still photos, in which the animated object(s) are moved slightly between pictures. When all the pictures are stitched together, it creates the illusion of motion! Why do we care? • Technology has made animation both easier and more available to non-professionals than ever before. • There’s an amazing amount of extremely creative amateur
  30. 30. Your Challenge Assess your company’s stop motion product Generate features / ideas to improve it Prioritize and prototype them
  31. 31. #shameless pug
  32. 32. This is our Methodology. SPONGE SPARK SPLATTER SCULPT STORYTELL Choose a design challenge and immerse in the related context. What do you want to make better? For who? Take insights from Sponge. Define your audience and their needs. Generate the solution idea you want to design. Brainstorm multiple ideas (quantity over quality). Explore possible features and content. Form and refine your solution with user insights and design strategy. Express the importance and meaning of your solution.
  33. 33. Whoa! Deja Vu… Make stop-motion movies more accessible for parents with 8-to-10-year-old kids • Making stop-motion movies can be time-consuming (parents = busy!) • Mobile UI can be confusing • Stop-motion movie making can be hard to understand • How might we speed up the movie- making process? • How might we integrate instructions or tutorials into the experience? A mobile app for both iOS and Android A mini stop-motion camera that you can attach to your pet’s collar that takes pics every 10 seconds Create a retail chain of workshops with deluxe stop motion stations you can rent by the hour Whoa! Deja Vu…
  34. 34. Company Values User Insights Role Priorities • Clarifying values • Forming design principles • Research • User models (like personas) • Business • User • Technology
  35. 35. Values&Principles Without them, you’re the villain in the tale
  36. 36. The French
  37. 37. The British
  38. 38. In the 1970’s, Ann C Noble created the aroma wheel
  39. 39. Attributes q Corporate q Cutting-Edge q Decisive q Deliberate q Detailed q Dominating q Educated q Elitist q Energetic q Essential q Ethical q Exacting q Exciting q Exclusive q Experienced q Adaptable q Adventurous q Approachable q Assertive q Busy q Candid q Caring q Commercial q Communal q Complex q Concise q Conservative q Confident q Confidential q Conscientious q Familial q Fearless q Fresh q Friendly q Fun q Functional q Giving q Growing q Heavy q Honest q Hopeful q Humble q Impactful q Informed q Innovative q Inspiring q Modern q Nostalgic q Open q Organic q Organized q Outgoing q Political q Refined q Refreshing q Safe q Self-aware q Simplistic q Spontaneous q Stable q Sterile q Timeless q Transparent q Trusted q Vibrant q Warm q Welcoming q Youthful ADD YOUR OWN:
  40. 40. Choose Your Attributes Choose 3-5 words from our attribute list that you think describe the site you’re about to see…
  41. 41. Attributes for the case study are… Empowering Inspirational Intuitive Trustworthy
  42. 42. Explore Definitions 1. On a sticky note, individually write your definition of the word “Empowering.” 2. Go around the table and discuss the different definitions for it. What resonates with everyone?
  43. 43. Empowering The act of making something is cathartic and magical. Kids don’t have a lot of power in their lives, so the act of creation gives them rare total control and an opportunity for growth. • Let the user make as many of the key choices as possible. • Balance this with the fact that choices can’t be overwhelming. • Make boring choices fade to the background and put fun choices front and center.
  44. 44. Inspiring The product should lead families to have and express ideas that they would not have otherwise. • Delight families with features like special effects that will push their movies and narratives to a level they didn’t realize they could achieve.
  45. 45. Intuitive Great design for kids is more than just easy to use – it’s fun because it’s intuitive. • Focus flow and functionality on the actual act of making, instead of the how. • Visuals are always better than copy – seeing is better than reading – doing is better than listening. • Learning by doing is always best.
  46. 46. Trustworthy This is a safe environment for play and growth that is both desirable to the child and wholesome for the parent. . • Parents should feel confident about their kids playing with this alone. • This means kids won’t spend $400 in a few minutes, that they won’t share a picture of themselves in the bathtub, and that strangers will not see kids’ creations.
  47. 47. User Insights No unimportant characters in this story…
  48. 48. Meet Kate McCallister. Kate’s a super busy 40-year-old mother of five, and a full-time, executive-level employee at a bank. Goals • Wholesome experiences for her children. They love technology and are glued to their mobile devices and TV. • Co-play experiences that are engaging…for her. Finally, her kids are old enough to play games that aren’t totally juvenile and boring for her to play. Frustrations • Time! As in, there’s never enough of it. • Technology can be intimidating. Her kids are getting old enough that sometimes they know her iPhone better than she does… which scares her, when she starts to think about safety and privacy.
  49. 49. Meet Kevin McCallister. Kevin is a very smart, energetic and creative 8- year-old with a short attention span. Goals • FUN, like, as soon as possible. Kevin compares every experience to his video games. How instant is the gratification?! • To make stuff that he can share (to impress, really) his friends and family. He doesn’t get mail or email. He can’t be on social media. Frustrations • Getting more of mom’s attention! With four siblings to compete with, every second he spends with his mom is precious. • Nothing can happen fast enough for Kevin. He’s a digital native who grew up taking instant messaging and on-demand entertainment for granted.
  50. 50. Usability Testing
  51. 51. Time to get sticky with it… Problems
 pink • Places where you are confused or frustrated • Bad/unnecessary errors • Situations that make you ask “how do I…” too often or for too long • Barriers to features caused by (mis)understanding Assumptions/Emotions 
 yellow • Unproven statements that you’re making about the audience • Comments such as frustrations, impressions, or other emotional exclamations Features 
 green • Proposed fixes for problems • Proposed changes to interactions/flows • Addition of functionality • Opportunities for a better fit with design principles
  52. 52. Task #1 (10 minutes) You’ve got a 10 minutes while dinner cooks to play with your little boy. He’s got a couple toys and other objects out on the dining room table. Open the Stop Motion Studio app and create a new stop action movie: With at least 20 frames, and 
 using at least 2 objects Problems
 pink Assumptions/Emotions 
 blue Features (3-5 per person)
  53. 53. Task 2a (5 minutes)
 When you are done making your stop motion movie, give your video a title. Task 2b (5 minutes)
 Share your movie by emailing it to:; Set the resolution to “Large – 540p” so that it will be small enough to email. Problems
 pink Assumptions/Emotions 
 blue Features (3-5 per person)
  54. 54. Brainstorm-Up (10 minutes) to at least 20 feature ideas or changes How might we increase delight during movie creation?
  55. 55. Time for a Bathroom Break! Put up your features and review other teams features (copy good ones) - We’ll start back up at 12:10
  56. 56. Time to do an about-face…
  57. 57. Evaluation criteria • What is important to the users?
 • What is important to the business? Feasibility considerations: • App size needs to be under 50 MB • Must remain COPPA compliant 
 (related: we don’t want to add user accounts) • A small lean dev team means no features should be specifically iOS or Android (must work for both) so there’s less development redundancy
  59. 59. Map Your Features!
  60. 60. Prioritization Personas
  61. 61. Meet Tess McGill. Tess is Chief Financial Officer of Happily Ever After. She’s run several profitable companies in different areas of new media. Goals • Monetizing the company’s products • Making sure operating, development, and marketing costs do not exceed revenue • She’s looking for “big bang” features that will make the company’s products stand out from the competition’s, and attract partnerships Frustrations • Tess finds that the team falls in love with features that are just not viable for the business. She doesn’t want to squash creative thought, but wants people to think realistically.
  62. 62. Meet Dade Override. Dade is a 28 year old developer specializing in mobile games and media creation. Goals • Become a more senior developer, both through learning new technologies and become a leader/ manager in the tech group • Create something challenging, but also easy for the team to maintain and scale. Frustrations • Dade is frustrated with the amount of time spent thinking and planning upfront. He wants to get in and start building as soon as possible.
  63. 63. Meet Jackson Pollock. Jackson is an experience designer who has specialized in working on products for kids. Goals • Make sure user needs are being taken into account with both features chosen and the usability of the design - including features that delight and surprise users. • Make an interface that’s playful, and that use symbols over text to help younger children use the app more readily. Frustrations • Jackson feels like some business-related features have negative impact on user experience or privacy and safety.
  64. 64. Pick your Persona!
  65. 65. Impassioned Exercise: Desert Island • Focus on the features “Do First” and “Do Later” only 
 (take a pic before you change) • Re-evaluate all these features through the lens of your prioritization persona • Pick the Top 3 that you think are the most important based on your persona • Prep a quick pitch - 30-60 seconds per pick • Put your mark on those sticky notes as you pitch 
 (B, T, D)
  66. 66. Take off your persona hat and shake it off
  67. 67. Visualization Seeing is believing
  68. 68. Flow shapes are linear and can be linked together in a se- quence. They include dot, line, angle, arc, spiral, and loop. Closed shapes feel more like solid objects. They in- clude oval, eye, triangle, rectangle, house, and cloud. Using just these shapes, draw: A watch Your neighbor’s face
  69. 69. Now You See It…. How has being able to visualize features affected the way you perceive their value? When doing this with your team, VOTE for your favorite feature visualizations by adding a star next to each. Why did you pick the feature that you picked? How did sketching/visualization affect that choice?
  70. 70. Pay attention when it doesn’t feel right
  71. 71. Summary of Take-Aways Prioritization is painful but important Strategic foundations • Company Values • User Insights • Role Awareness Prioritization Process • Generate feature ideas for business AND users • Create prioritization criteria (business and user-based) • Map features by importance and feasibility • Filter through role concerns • Map again by business and user benefits • Test through collaborative visualization
  72. 72. Carolyn Chandler Anna van Slee @chanan @adventuringanna And they all lived… Adventures in Experience Design
 Activities for Beginners