UX Briefs 101

I hope this is helpful to some UX beginner out there someday

I’m gonna walk through my process of creating my first UX Brief. It was… an iterative process, and my biggest challenges were in figuring out what information was relevant, how to present the information in a concise way, and how to propose design solutions that were directly related to the personas I had created.

Objective

Analyze an e-commerce site with a robust catalog of products and create a UX Brief pitching potential changes to be made. You’ll play the role of the UX designer, the class/instructors will play the role of the company you choose.

First Solution

Fumbling around, wondering what a UX Brief should include and how to create one, feeling like I was preparing for one of the games in the Goblet of Fire, then putting hours of research and work into a thing that pretty loosely resembled a UX Brief, probably.

Second Solution

Using two weeks’ worth of class feedback to refine my brief into a set of design principles to drive more sales on L.L. Bean’s e-commerce site. Proposed solutions were based on the overall company goals, the state of the industry as a whole, website analytics and heuristic evaluation, and opportunities rooted in my personas’ user journeys.

Process

My first few days were spent researching. Researching e-commerce sites, deciding what industry I wanted to look into, and eventually landing on L.L. Bean as the subject of my UX Brief. I spent a few days also googling “what to include in a UX Brief”, which actually didn’t yield too many helpful results.

After a week, I had created a brief that pointed towards a meta-problem in the outdoor industry (millenials aren’t really interested in buying expensive outdoor apparel) and a response from L.L. Bean (a new ad campaign to target new demographics, specifically millennials). My first brief lacked specific website data that proved that this problem actually existed for L.L. Bean and I hadn’t included any solutions.

Luckily, I was too passive about volunteering to present my brief that I ended up getting pushed back until the last day, giving me some extra time to prepare. By the time I presented, I had spent 15–20 additional hours on my brief and had given it a huge makeover.

My end result

Hypothesis: L.L. Bean’s web channel is not meeting selling potential to users in new target markets and could increase the volume of sales to users in the primary existing market.

To optimize the channel for conversion in new target markets, L.L. Bean’s website requires additional content on product pages to assist in buyer education, and would benefit from integrating social media accounts more prominently onto some or all web pages to increase buyer trust and establish credibility.

In order to increase the volume of sales to primary existing markets, L.L. Bean’s web channel would benefit from personalization tools and curated content to assist customers in discovering new styles.

Solutions: Further research then implementation of UX solutions.

Resources I found helpful

Guide Your Design with a 1-page UX Strategy

How to Write a Great UX Brief

Key Takeaways

Story: Tell the story. What’s the brand personality, what’s the overall state of the industry/the company and the e-commerce site, who are the personas, who are the competitors, what are the competitors doing that we aren’t, what are we doing well, how can we improve, what are the goals, and what do we do next?

Specific: Be specific about website goals, KPI’s, demographics, problems and solutions.

Website: Industry problems are important, but the brief is meant to specifically address website problems or areas that could be improved. Do this with a knowledge of industry statistics and overall company sales, but be specific about how the web channel will improve conversions on the web.

Personas: If you’re going to create personas, use them. Tie your solutions back to the user journeys created from personas. If solutions don’t lead to higher conversions specifically in the user journey for created personas, maybe they aren’t the right solutions. Tell the story.

Relevant: Present data that matters to your hypothesis. Web analytics and overall company sales don’t belong in the brief unless they’re tied back to your hypothesis about how UX improvements will drive higher conversions.

Relative: Provide background on what your data means by giving industry benchmarks and comparison to key competitors.

Research: It all matters for your job somehow, you can’t know too much about the brand and state of the industry. Just know what’s important to include in the brief and what’s not.

I’ll continue to refine the process of brief-writing and certainly become more knowledgable about UX research as a whole with more experience.

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