Start Making Sense With Visual Tools

Issue 9


  • Research and data
  • User stories
  • Touchpoints
  • Platforms
  • Stakeholders
  • Sticky notes
  • Pen/pencil
  • Paper
  • Visualization tools

Add ingredients to blender, mix on high speed, and pour into a chilled glass. Optionally garnish with a twist of lemon. If you’d like it dirty, carry on. This is not an olive friendly counter.

1. Un-Suck The Touchpoint

We are not designing for isolated moments any more, and maybe we never were. The concept sounds quaint in 2017, and perhaps a little precious. The experiences that we design for are increasingly complex and exist in moments in time that spread out across touchpoints, services, and platforms. What is a touchpoint, you might ask? Chris Risdon, Head of Behavioral Design at Capital One, defines it as an interaction, a specific human need that takes place at a specific time and location.

This can get a little heady when we think of the various combinations of channels, platforms, and touchpoints that drive our services. Every challenge is an opportunity, however, and we have practices that we can use to illuminate customer experiences like never before to drive strategy.

So, how then, do we make sense of the complicated convergence of experiences that define our modern world? We visualize them. We link them together through customer journey maps that compile all of the various data points and customer experiences that we know about. As Chris explains, we want to design for “experiences that unfold over time and through many different touchpoints and channels.”

Why? Because customers don’t think in terms of channels, and they likely don’t care about them. They begin an experience on one device and expect to complete it on another. Channels are unique to businesses, and should be defined by teams. Each channel offers opportunities and constraints that should be considered in the design. Using a journey map, teams identify those key moments in the user’s journey and design for the interactions and microinteractions that support them.

Chris sees visual artifacts like the journey map as the key document for drawing all of these customer experiences together. Maps not only illuminate opportunities. They bring the human experience, empathy, into the conversation. They can also result in change management, when companies begin to consider how they must support these customer needs that spill across offline and online experiences.

Chris recommends that you have as many different parts of your business involved in the creation of the journey map as possible, either participating or observing. In addition to studying behavior and visualizing moments in your customer’s journey, listen to the story that develops:

Listening to the Story

At the start of the journey

  • What were their expectations?
  • What actions did she or he take?
  • What touchpoint did he or she interact with, what events?

At different moments along the journey

  • What did he or she feel at different points of time?
  • What was he or she thinking about at specific moments?
  • What people were involved?
  • What tech was involved?
  • What locations did this take place in?
  • How long did it take?

At the end of the journey

  • What was his or her lasting impression?

WATCH: “Orchestrating Experiences: Strategy & Design for Complex Product Ecosystems with Chris Risdon

2. Sketch, Match, Game

Defining a product vision, and getting everyone on board with it and in alignment, can be challenging for teams. Christine Perfetti has developed a model workshop that helps teams visualize goals, data, customer information, and opportunities to crystallize a vision that will keep them on course, prevent silos across product lines, and drive product decisions.

In the workshop, teams and product stakeholders gather for two days, during which time they define the business goals, the target audiences they want to reach, the pain points around the product, and roadmap opportunities.

Christine draws inspiration from the Design Studio Methodology by having workshop participants break up into teams of 5–6 people to map and sketch out ideas for their long term planning. Teams work in short time boxes to generate and sketch ideas, present them to other teams, critique, and iterate. They work in rapid rounds of sketching and critiquing. Over time, they converge on one central vision.

WATCH: “A User-centered Approach to Product Planning and Visioning with Christine Perfetti

3. Visualize This!

Visualizing data analytics is not a practice for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming and challenging, and the majority of the time spent is on analyzing and preparing the material. The end-user is often a non-technical audience who benefits from having the information conveyed to them in a simple, intuitive manner via dashboards and reports.

When data analytics software fails, the culprit, says Eldad Farkash, is often the usability of the product (or lack thereof). Stakeholders and teams ask for data, but rarely have a chance to comment on the form that data takes when it reaches them.

How do you make data understandable, intuitive, and useful? Eldad shares four principles for displaying data.

  • Keep it simple - Basic first, advanced second: Most people are looking for simple, intuitive features. Design for this and keep your display obvious and uncluttered.
  • Use data to an advantage: Pull data from a variety of sources, including your CRM, bug reports, and Google Analytics to get deeper customer insights.
  • Embed proper data analytics: Combine and analyze data from multiple sources
  • Make them interactive: Allow people to get granular and dive deep into the data.

READ: “How to Make an Intuitive Data Display by Eldad Farkash

Alternatively, you can Quantum Leap to the ’80s and Stop Making Sense.

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