UX STRATEGY (Garrett) — DAY 1

So, if you read my last post: About Users, it’s time to go into the five levels structure proposed by Jesse James GARRETT (2011). The first level, as you should remember, is the Strategy.

The Elements of User Experience, GARRETT, 2011, Pg. 29.

So, first of all, ‘what is strategy’? According to GARRET (2011), in UX, strategy basically encompasses two important questions: what do you want to get out of your product? and what do your users want to get out of your product?. It sounds pretty obvious when you read but, on real world, companies and professionals don’t usually answer these ‘obvious’ questions. If you really take care of it, you’ll have successfully accomplished this phase requirements, defining product objectives and user needs.

Ok, but, how to answer these questions? Let’s start with “what do you want to get out of your product?”. This is about inside your walls. About your company. At this moment you’ll be thinking about your business goals, your branding, and the right metrics to monitor your performance. You’ll understand how the product will help you to reach your business goals, and which of them it will help you to reach. This is very important, as you should not be able to address all of your business goals with only one product. At the same time, it is very important to understand how it will be related to your brand in order to exert control over the users’ perception, a very important part of UX.

Be very clear and explicit while stating your product goals. This will be the guide for the whole team during the development and design processes. This will avoid misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Be careful, think deeply about words, and be really careful about the metrics you’ll use. A wrong metric can show you wrong results and, somehow make it late for you to identify problems or opportunities for improvement. This is the root of your project, so really invest your time on identifying real problems and, even if sometimes you feel that you ‘found’’ a solution at this time, calm down, don’t jump into it and keep your mind only on “identifying problems”. The success in UX is rooted in a very firm understanding of each decision and its consequences, as Mr. Garret (2011) states.

Ok, the first part is done. You’ve got your product objectives but, what about the users’ needs. This is the core of the UX. This is probably where you’ll spend a big part of your time. A deep understanding of “what do your users want to get out of your product” will make the whole upcoming phases easier, will reduce rework, and will increase the chances of success on your UX strategy.

Some important things to remember:

  • You are not designing for yourself;
  • And you are not designing for 1 idealized user;
  • Users are diverse;
  • You can’t define who your users are by yourself;
  • You should go to a research.

Great! With these five points in mind, you are able to understand that some common assumptions as: “Users prefer this way”, “Users don’t like this kind of menu”, or “Users won’t click on this button..” are nothing more than perceptions that your peers or members of your team have about… themselves! Yes, themselves. When you hear this kind of assumption you can easily change it for: “I prefer this way”, “I don’t like this kind of menu”, or “I won’t click on this button..”. To create real assumptions about users and uncover their needs is very important to drive a UX research.

As this is a research, first you should select your audience, and in order to do that, you’ll have to segment your users, dividing them by key characteristics. There are a lot of segmentation ways, but, as Garret(2011) says, these are the most common approaches: demographic and psychographic. On demographic approach you’ll take a look at their gender, age, education level, marital status, income, location and so on. For the psychographic approach, though, you’ll be more interested on attitudes and perceptions. Attitudes towards technology, like daily time spent on web, kind of job and if it’s related to tech, or if they are early adopters, for instance. You’ll also be paying attention on their level of expertise with your website subject, or how they will use it: in a personal or professional way.

When you have your users segmented you’ll be able to start collecting information from the segments you defined as your target. You have a lot of ways to do that as well, but usually it will be made through surveys, interviews, focus-groups and/or observations. You’ll start in a general way trying to understand who your users are and how are their real perceptions and attitudes (the ones you assumed while on segmentation phase). For this first task, it is cheaper and faster to use surveys and interviews, but you can also use focus-groups. This is a very important part of the process, because if you get a good perception of who your users are, how they behavior, and you can have good insights to create your upcoming questions. Sometimes, for example, you know that something is happening and you’ll focus your questions on understanding ‘why’. So you don’t waste your time.

Going ahead, with the right segment of users, and understanding what you want to know, you’ll jump into observing how they are handling their tasks. As Garret(2011) says, every user’s interaction with a product takes place in the context of some task, so if you really want to understand how your users deal with your website, you should perform a task test with a survey or an observation in-loco. Even though the survey is a possible tool, observation is always better as you can analyze people’s real behavior. This works very well if you have a current product, a prototype, a work-in-progress, or just want to get insights with a similar website.

With all these results in hands, a very useful tool that UX designers use to guide their whole process is developing personas. Personas are fictional models or profiles, with fictional information that represent a complete user profile. You add a name, a picture, important key characteristics and create a story. You’ll usually build as much profiles as necessary to encompass all the different groups of users that you are designing to. This will be your guide for the whole design process, and every time you or your team get stuck you’ll be able to ask: “What would ‘John Doe’ do?”, or “How would ‘John Doe’ procede?”.

Ok, so, after all these steps, you should be able to answer: what do your users want to get out of your product. Now you’ll create the strategy document, stating the objectives, clearly indicating what users needs you have identified, and most important, making it in an easy and straight way to make it very useful for your team.

As Garret(2011) says, this is your base, the first level of the structure, and what you do here support the whole UX process. It does not mean that this should be set in a stone, the strategy can evolve during the project by receiving insights from the other phases, and you can (and should) refine it.

This is a very important part of your UX process. Making this level very strong can make your next steps way easier. Many designers don’t take the necessary care about this level because they don’t see its real value, they want to jump straight to de visual, interaction and other phases. Don’t do it, a good planning is one of the biggest key-factors for success in project management, the time you spend here will save you time and extra work in the future!

And what about you? Have you been spending enough time on planning? Hope to hear from you too! Comment here or on our facebook page!

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