Designing a Dream

Attending Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive week gave me ideas of how we can improve our UX approach, and left me with a clearer picture of what a design-infused culture could look like in practice.

Each morning fills you with an energizing buzz that goes straight to your head. You feel free to tackle each challenge with both courage and and a sense of humor. Wild ideas flow freely, and you are brave enough to celebrate your successes and to laugh at your failures.

We are constantly in touch with our customers, and the office is designed to reinforce that connection. From the moment you step out of the elevator, every inch of wall space is covered with stories and depictions of our customers’ journeys, and you always love trying to spot the newest additions.

You go to the kitchen and overhear the product development team talking about their latest expedition to meet some customers. Their project space is covered in stories, sketches, and photos from the trip. It looks like they’ve been expanded the mental model you helped diagram with them last year.

You hear them talking about how one person was trying to do all of their investing from their family’s kitchen table, and the collection of cat paraphernalia at another house. Someone brings up some investing challenges customers complained about during the chats, and the group agrees it could be a really interesting pain point to solve.

You continue past the company storyboards that capture key touch points throughout our customer journey, from the moment they meet us to the time they leave us. A team has taped up all of the emails we send at each stage under the corresponding journey stage and are discussing whether we’re sending too many at some points and too few at others. You’re intrigued to hear what they decide.

As you come into your own project space, you look at your team’s dashboard and are excited to see the metrics have improved since your latest changes went live — you’re thankful the iterations took the work in the new direction. Your own project wall space has an area dedicated to stories you and your team captured in your own chats and the experience principles that came out of them. As your team is a diverse bunch, these help keep everyone on the same page and working toward a cohesive, customer-rooted experience.

Another wall displays the sketches that came out of your team’s ideation sessions, and the customer feedback you received on those ideas. A teammate calls you over to get your feedback on her prototype before tomorrow’s concept validation session. You find yourself looking to the ideation wall to make sure it’s going in the intended direction. You really hope the prototype is effective; it’s trying to solve a problem a member recently brought up to you. You think back to that conversation — what it was like to be in his home, smelling his dinner cooking, and how it felt to hear him say he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to afford to retire, but he hopes investing can make it possible. His story reminds you that your work matters and puts a face to the people you’re helping along the way.

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