5 User Experience (Customer Journey) lies, damn lies and absolute myths

1. Anyone can do user experience, nope!

I meet a lot of people claiming to do user experience, process and deliverables aside, they don’t have a usability background so they cannot do user experience.

User experience is a solution capability based upon usability principles and research findings not design aspirations

User experience is a solution capability (not all usability people can do user experience) based upon the experience of conducting usability testing and user research. Usability testing and user research provides the standards and experience of the user that is needed to understand their perspective, elicit the correct (there are wrong ones) requirements in workshops or testing and represent them in projects.

I met (in 2006) a UX expert, I’m always worried when I meet UX experts, because I am a UX expert. Anyway she was moving from Razorfish into the freelance world for the big bucks and working a large project for Honda cars through a digital agency. Unfortunately she did not know how to use any software apart from word, so I checked her out sure enough she was a PA at Razorfish not a UX architect as claimed.

This happens so often it’s shocking, my favourite one has to be the PHd student I met working as an accessibility consultant repackaging W3C guidelines as work for several agencies. What I love about this guy is he does public speaking and has even done UX London and people wonder why I’m not interested in these conferences!

There are loads more fakes some of them milking huge daily rates from major companies, as these companies don’t do any checking it’s their own fault, but it makes me quite sad that clients and employment agencies can’t tell the quality from the junk.

Not only is the user experience world full of fakes, I’d go as far to say that of the people I’ve met in the last 13 years involved in UX;

80% (8 in 10) of UX people are fakes and have no idea what they are doing

These fakes can certainly sell themselves and get work (now in some very senior positions) because the clients did not then and still don’t know what they should be getting out of a user experience professional.

2. User experience can be learned from reading books, nope!

Absolutely read books, but read lots of them, but don’t quote them like the Bible that’s a bit odd. But reading about someone else’s experience does not mean you have any or in fact really understand the context or scope of those experiences.

Do some testing and research, I’m seeing a great deal of roles advertised for UX researcher or UX workshopping this is a great concern as the priority of discovered requirements and their interrelation is almost impossible to communicate in written documents. This critical project information should always be available.

Separating UX research from the UX solution activity may make sense for IT activity but for User Experience Professionals it does not

I assume this was a bright idea of someone who doesn’t actually know anything about UX regardless of their job title.

3. User experience is an IT activity, nope!

User Experience is not an IT process, it starts in the business area before IT is involved

I know a lot of company IT departments have tried to subsume User Experience into their IT process; user experience is considerably less effective this way.

User Experience leads the projects speaking for the End User Stakeholders (customers) as the Business Stakeholders speak for the Business

User Experience fits better into Agile DevOps, Change Management, Operations or as separate Standards Authority within organizations.

4. User experience is a design activity, nope!

Not exactly no, it sets the project brief and requirements then latterly gets involved in research first before creating solution concepts, user testing concepts then defining the final solution.

If there is no research, user experience solutions are not possible

5. The cost of user experience is going down, nope!

Perhaps a better understanding is that the market is flooded with willing bodies, the quality goes down and so does the price because people find it difficult to sell invisible clothing (the kings new cloths) even to people who like the colour and the cut, so accept a reduced price.

So the value of the job title is going down.

User experience should provide major cost benefits and advancements to companies who wish to stand out from the crowd, provided they find people who know how to do UX correctly.

This is the same problem that Agile is going through, people have picked up the language and use one or two of the activities incorrectly but don’t exceed the current status quo because they don’t know how to.

Great Agile is fast and accurate, flexible and delivers usable software and change, just as Great User Experience should provide the experience that customers want and allow them to interact with the client, accurately and often.

Great User Experience delivers increased transactions, interactions and communications towards relationship building.

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Five most #common #failures of business #change and #transformation projects

Ever since transformation and change were linked to technology some of the worst parts of both have been combined on a national level and within major companies.

Giving users less functionality than they currently have and telling them it’s a great leap forward.

It is astonishing but this is the most common failing in projects, for some reason senior stakeholders appear to be convinced that technology is good and experience is bad. And if they concentrate on a new end state, all that is bad will go away. In a sad way all that is experience and knowledge are the things that go away often taking competitive advantage with them.

Asking stakeholders how things work even thought they only ever watch the outcomes and have no idea how things really work now.

Stakeholders by their very name determine that they are involved in the politics of a project, but they are considerably distanced from how thing work as they tend to represent management. This is less about the structure of projects in companies than how consultancies fail to ask questions about the current state, transition and opportunities into a project from a workers perspective and for service users.

Changing the requirements without understanding the long term debilitating impact of these changes.

There is without fail a point in all projects where the requirements will need to be changed due to cost, time or other constraint. At this critical point uniformly the future impact is relegated either to a later phase or someone else’s problem. While this at first sight is simply avoidance the impact in change, transformation and technology is significant often turning the current solution from strategic into nothing more than another tactical change that will need to be replaced.

Conducting due diligence on the project as a whole instead of across every aspect of the project at each stage and to the same consistent standard.

This may seem just a simple process but it is so often badly applied or not applied at all. There is naturally excitement when a project is in full flight but this some might say boring exercise often defines success or failure and will absolutely manage cost overruns which are often hidden by changing the requirements.

Not properly estimating and often severely underestimating the time it takes to create, refine, model, build and test solutions.

The reason that estimates are not correct is that translating requirements is not included in project planning. Project requirements must be translated into technical business requirements and user requirement both of which require testing and validation at a concept level before a solution can be considered to reliable, this is why so many project fail to deliver.

A brief note on requirements: Wish lists that make up an end state are not requirements these are just goals, requirements are what you get when you translate them into each delivery channel. For example the requirements to offer services to clients are different in mobile, desktop, telephony, marketing, pr etc. and they do not translate in the detail required to deliver. This is a highly common experience that no amount of lean and agile methodologies can make up or user experience cover up for the fact that most requirements given to technology as the bases of solutions are not fit for purpose.

Author Links;

Blog: user experience architecture
LinkedIn: profile
Twitter: userexperienceu

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#Blended #program #management #Prince and #Agile methods Part 1

Blended Program Management

I have been involved in project and program management since 1989 across various sectors and more recently have been focused in banking and finance.

I have experience in Prince and Agile methodologies and will expand on the blending of these two methods through the use of user stories (a user experience method) and the positive relationship between waterfall and iteration components in the following parts of this post.

Simply put (before getting into the detail) Prince and Agile = Delivery and in Banking and Finance they can give startling results.

This will not be a shock to many people but I’m not going to be describing the what, but the how.

I have managed some highly complex projects that would have failed if they had been run in Prince or Agile alone.

The clear advantage of blended management processes is that;

the project becomes team centric and affords an environment where success in common and that value is attributed to the correct people

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#Holistic #UX #Customers don’t think or interact along #channels

Business management does not reflect customer (users) activity

The management of a businesses online presence is broken up into various channels in order to simplify the management, responsibility and accountability for overall effectiveness and value. However customers (users) are unaware of these business rules and are only focused on their task or tasks, which will cut across several channels.

Holistic customer (user) experience is cross channel

Given the behaviour of customers (users) it is clear that effectual user experience is cross channel as well. This creates some problems for business, however with the advent of Agile, user stories it may be time for businesses to at last really focus on their customers (users) by changing their online management to reflect key user pathways rather than holding on to legacy notions of management.

Customer experience an example (not everything)

1. Engagement > 2. On boarding > 3. Payments > 4. Servicing > 5. Supporting > 6. Retention > 7. Up/Cross Selling

  1. Engagement – how the customer finds out about the company, where their expectations are set (also includes brand identification) and they self filter based upon personal tasks and objectives
  2. On boarding – agreement that the company provides the service required, through written and visual material, social media, personal recommendations, reviews, sign up routes
  3. Payments – payment or funding pathways related to e-commerce, m-commerce (including micro payments)
  4. Servicing – providing the goods or services, delivery and tracking
  5. Supporting – providing help and support both online and telephony (can complete servicing)
  6. Retention – managing potential loss of customers, analytics, advanced planning
  7. Up/Cross selling – data mining existing customers to up or cross sell other products and services to existing customers

For a customer this process can take hours, days, weeks, months or years and contains three key user experiences;

  1. A transaction (engagement, on boarding, payment, servicing, support)
  2. Customer relationship management (on boarding, payment, servicing, support, retention)
  3. Marketing (engagement, on boarding, retention, up/cross selling)

These experiences cross relate as can be seen by their components.

Managing the web in a holistic manner reduces risk and lowers cost

The problem remains at present that the customers (users) experience is supported by multiple sub-systems with owners and their own agendas.

Digital channel management costs a huge amount of time and money and creates a great deal of risk that valuable customer activity will become secondary to internal politics

There needs to be an importance given to the customers overall experience and the need to join it up in terms of user experience, visual appearance and standard interactions across multiple platforms and systems.

Related

 

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#User #Experience #UX #Process

Process thinking in User Experience (UX)

The first step in user experience needs to be the recognition that every problem is different and will require a separate solution. Because if they are not, then every business is the same which they are clearly not.

In effect there is no quick fix or single standard method but rather there is an armoury of methods each with associated risks, limitations and plus points. Anyone offering a standardise method without flexibility should be asked to leave as they about to cost you a fortune.

Karl Smith User Experience Research Testing 200711

Offering user experience services is a bit like dungeons and dragons in that you role your 12 sided dice and hope the business does not throw some trolls at you.

I have worked with very well known agencies who are unable to get their clients to understand the importance of user experience – research, testing and solutions as they focus on the solutions component without proper understanding that it is only one part of a three stage process. The reason that clients give for not paying for research and testing is the assumption that user experience people a such great experts that they can do their job in total isolation from the business and the end users.Maybe ‘Super User Experience Person’ does exist but I doubt it, most importantly users change over time, in what they want and mean by their actions.

Some process steps for user experience

This process list is based on personal experience and is open to reduction or extension based upon just how savvy the client is and how much they really want to be successful rather than just being seen to be doing something.

Understand the problem (concurrent with 2.)

  1. Do research
  2. Analyse research
  3. Get validation of what has been discovered by Target Users and Stakeholders

Define the audience (actors) this is the detail level the Target Users

  1. Create personas a tool used by the entire project team BA’s, PM’s and Developers to be acquainted with who will use the systemResearch persona types, activities, attitudes etc.
  2. Define critical tasks Research tasks ecosystem and review engagement strategy
  3. Define key pathways Main pathway
  4. Alternative pathways
  5. Failure pathways

Compose concepts

  1. Create buy-in with Stakeholders

Set the tone of voice

  1. Type of language
  2. Level of formality
  3. Use of jargon, brand identity or subject specific words
  4. Content style
  5. Meta standards
  6. Content object model
  7. SEO if web based

Wireframes

  1. Selection of type & method
  2. Wireframe Concepts
  3. User testing of Wireframe Concepts
  4. Wireframe sketches

Client sign off

Wireframe prototypes

  1. User testing of Wireframe prototypes

Client review

Wireframe & Visual design integration (prior to this point the use of high fidelity images are counter productive)

Functional specification & analytics specification

  1. Instruct development
  2. Usability Test plan
  3. Accessibility Test plan
  4. Functional & Content Test plan

Testing with participant screening document

  1. Review testing results
  2. Modify labels, interactions & structure in line with findings

Done, until …..

Check interactions based upon analytics and more user testing

Offer enhancements to clients

Some people will look at this list and think it takes years, depending on the project complexity it can take days or weeks for simple web or mobile applications and only months on complex software systems.

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#UX #requirements #gathering methods #determine #value

Requirements gathering methods determine value

There are lots ways to elicit UCD requirements so I don’t intend on listing them all here, what I will note are some of the effective ways that I utilise. They can be described as structured, unstructured or a mixture of the two, but importantly the methods produce differing depth of requirements dependant not only on the method but on the skill of the facilitator and the characteristics of physical location used. In effect the method used is limited by the capability of the facilitator.

Research Structure

It is critical to determine if there is enough usable information around the project to be able to establish a valid research start point. Get the questions right and the answers follow, get the questions wrong and you’ll waste a fortune. If your unsure carry out a pilot study to find out what the questions are.

Methods

Observational / Reflective

Asking users to carry out their normal activities while being observed does take quite a bit of setting up so that the activity data is not skewed as a result of the observation. It is critical not to participate or lead the user. It is especially common when users are told the fine detail about the project; they will try to give you what they think you want. Often this is because they feel threatened by the process, the old notion of time and motion leading to them getting sacked is embedded in British culture. However this type of method is very useful in a pilot study to determine what type of activities should form the basis of questioning or workshop based co-creation.

Narrative

Narrative is about stories, like the narrator in a play, they see the whole thing being able to talk in the present, remind of the past, note the future or describe a similie that others can relate to even if they cannot yet relate to the main story.

Asking users to describe how they think something should work (Cognitive Walkthrough), what the differences might be for different user types, how it’s done now, is there anything in other technology or experience that they can relate it to. In this way a multi-path picture can be built up from each participant for each interactive pathway within the new system or technology.

Diagnostic

Diagnostic is about testing something this will often manifest through workshops with groups of people. By setting a group a task or co-creation ‘Design the front page of your new website’ spending ‘K10,000,000 that’s Karl’s currency’ on to meet your goals and noting the group dynamic, decision making and outputs, very rich information is revealed by participants.

Show and Tell

Show and tell is imperative to feed back to participants what has happened to the information they have provided. More it can be used to validate key concepts and project directions in a fairly light environment, where participants can be highly critical knowing that everyone else is in the same frame of reference for that meeting.

Some of the Problems

Although the whole process exists to elicit information suitable to influence the project, some participants will have pet requirements that if not given the correct level of sycophantic response they will seek to invalidate the entire project as it does not represent their vision of what the project is any more. This type of attitude is very common when working with low pay low (self) risk bureaucrats, as they can personally destroy projects then blame it on ‘expensive’ consultants.

Case Study 4

On a national census project that was due to be run online and offline a member of the bureaucratic project team insisted that their opinions were correct on the basis of having won an award for a website ten years earlier. The opinions were very dated to the point of being bad practice, incorrect and were a constant disabler to the project. This client refused to consider an open support system, marketing website (to prepare country) or full language landing pages to support the full ethnic background of the country in question. The day to day engagement was painful, but the UX for the several forms, question logic and user interactions were eventually signed off even though the client never signed off the personas based upon the requirements they gave.

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User centered design to ISO 13407

User centered design (UCD) is a project approach that puts the intended users (audience) of a product or piece of technology at the centre of its research, design and development. It does this by talking directly to the user at key points in the project to make sure the product or piece of technology will deliver upon their perceived requirements and align the client with their market.

The following elements operate in a cycle being repeated until the project’s objectives have been attained. This makes it critical that the participants in these methods accurately reflect the profile of actual consumers.

Simple user centered design project lifecycle visualization
Simple user centered design project lifecycle visualization

ISO 13407 outlines four essential activities in a user centered design project:

Requirements gathering – Understanding and specifying the context of use
Requirements specification – Specifying the user, organisational, technological and standards requirements
Design – Producing concepts, architectures, visual designs and prototypes
Evaluation – Carrying out user based assessment of the product or technology

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12 #UX things you need to know

Getting into user experience, what you need to know?

What will a person need to be able to do to get into user experience;

1. Can you think?

Not the most subtle way to ask, but can you be creative? Thinking at the beginning of a project can save a huge amount of money and time later, but many user experience people blast their way into a project by starting on wireframes, without knowing what they are doing.

A huge amount of user experience simply is not user experience, its pretty pictures with poor justifications ‘it’s best practice’ my usual response is ‘prove that it’s best practice’.

2. Can you find things out?

Do you have a critical mind, can you work out what is missing from the information you have been given.

A project requires a bit of detective work because there are always gaps in the information provided to user experience, mainly because clients and IT don’t know what to provide or what is provided has had the juicy bits (outlier views) removed because clients and IT don’t know they are important.

3. Are you objective?

Having a strong opinion on user experience is really important, but it must always be tempered with an open non judgemental attitude. Are you willing to be changed by what your client, users or IT people know?

User experience people are not the gate keepers of an absolute set of rules, we have two ears and one mouth, we should listen twice as much as we speak.

4. Can you discern Fact from Fiction?

Again talking with clients, users or IT people can be pretty confusing unless you can work out if what they are talking about is still within the boundaries and various time lines of the project. A quick guide;

  • Clients tend to talk about the desired end state
  • Users tend to talk about any snippets they have heard about the project or their hopes for it
  • IT tends to take the pragmatic approach by thinking ‘what can we really deliver’

They are all true or were true at some point, or may be true if we had more time and money etc.

5. Can you deal with the politics?

Can you avoid taking sides in the various feuds that were going on before you got there and not flame the fires of distrust between business and IT.

6. Will you understand the business you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the business, helping them get past their assumptions about their users and giving them some facts to act upon.

7. Will you understand the users you are serving?

Your in a service relationship with the users, helping them get what they need and desire.

8. Can you test – concepts, theories, business thinking, user perceptions etc?

Your going to need a lot of guts to question other peoples thinking.

User experience people reserve the right to ask stupid questions, in order to avoid doing stupid things, by Karl Smith 1999.

I’ve been saying this since 1999, I say it on every project.

9. Can you seek validation?

The user experience person is not right, they can come up with concepts and questions but a user experience person never decides they are right, they must check out what they do with other people. Often this process of seeking validation reveals more information and opens door to previously inaccessible people.

10. Can you communicate – findings and concepts?

Can you talk to people and provide information to them in a digestible way? The best way to work is to not use jargon, not assume that people understand anything especially verbal references to famous people or design principals.

You need to be able to package your information in the users and stakeholders own verbal environment, so that they recognise and understand it when they hear it.

11. Can you understand and benefit from the project teams expertise?

Do you know what other people on the project do? For example do you know enough about technology to carry out research with developers to pre-scope extra user requirements.

Can you cope with the give and take that happens during development and know which things to fight for?

12. Finally do you keep your common sense active?

Can you spot a non sensible request, a great example of this was NASA spending $1,000,000 on a pen that would work in space, while Roscosmos (USSR) gave their astronauts a pencil. Can you give a reasoned non personalised argument for not doing something?

Related

Author Links

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#Context matters in #Usability

Context matters in usability

While any kind of user testing is better than none, usability testing out of context is like testing a car on water, it gives some basic information and not a lot more. If performance and use are important at all, then testing should take place in an environment standard to the expected users.

Contextual Usability

In practice this means testing children’s games at their homes, schools or clubs. Testing e-commerce websites at work, on mobile phones, PDA’s (on the bus, train, plane), internet cafes and in the home. Testing software in call centres, oil rigs, supermarkets, small shops, banks anywhere that they are designed to be used.

Can anyone honestly say that their environment does not affect what they do and how they do it. An extreme example would be fx traders using complex software, telephones and chatting to their colleagues while working within a constant stream of information that changes their activities, focus and effectiveness. Not only does context define how long things are used but it restricts attention span, acceptance of navigation and take-up.

Intelligent business requires a full understanding the effectiveness of new products and services. By testing in context, clients can get realistic data on the performance of systems. Such data can be valuable to making decisions on changes, or having confidence that the benefits you expect will be realised in practice. By testing real users in context potential problems can be eliminated and new previously unconsidered opportunities developed.

Republished from article of August 07, 2006

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#Definition of #User #Experience #UX

 

Philosophy of UX

User experience is about making people’s lives better not just changed

A persons experience is based in their mind and their emotions and can be established by both actual interaction and reflective (biographical experience) inputs.

In UX we define inputs in digital or real world frameworks which enable the creation of solutions that have meaningful impact and that can be measured.

Overview of UX

The current approach to UX is that it is the practical implementation of audience drivers, cognitive acuity, usability standards and accessibility laws with ergonomics (physical, contextual use) and anthropometric (digital behaviours analytics) measures. Creating an integration of business context into user context, to facilitate alignment, transactions and communications.
Definition; A user is a representative of the target audience. They are not involved in the project in any way. They will use the final product or service either as a customer or as an internal business user.
UX is not involved in the Look and Feel associated with GUI’s but rather delivers the human solution that can be accessed through any user interface this is why UX is closely associated with assistive technologies used in accessibility which are in turn derivatives of technologies developed for the military and space exploration.
While UX is not rocket science, it has been involved in the space program

The UX Process

We first try to ‘Understand the Problem’ from the user perspective (user research) so that we can create User Requirements, these combined with Business Requirements and Implicit Requirements create Project Requirements.
This process often called Discovery and can find new requirements, challenge business requirements or redirect the entire project along a route that delivers the business or organisation what they want but in a totally different way.
To de-risk human error (needing to be right) we work from researched archetypes (persona modelling) which creates the opportunity to ‘think like a user’ a great support tool if users are not always available.
This post is republished from an earlier blog from 2001.

 

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Welcome to my blog

About Karl Smith

Karl Smith works globally with directors, stakeholders and customers of multi-national enterprises across all verticals and technology stacks whose focus is on new concepts and capabilities that drive customer engagement, interaction and retention.

He creates digital companies, strategies and services that drive customer centricity into the core of client companies, that in turn enable them to realise their ambitions to engage with and establish a consistent two-way communication and interaction with their customers.

These new companies and capabilities are underwritten with tailored blue sky work, digital strategy, management consulting and program planning fitting to tight timescales, strategically correct, fully featured, useable, governable, scalable, efficient, end to end business propositions, service designs, applications, integrations and software systems.

Karl Smith Practical Skills

He is a highly competent, personable, creative and motivated person with a keen insight and definition ability. He is a critical thinker and able to rapidly discover the essence of problems then define, communicate, create buy-in and deliver end to end digital and process solutions. He positively motivates those around him and is able to engender a great team dynamic by leading from the front. He has business experience since 1989 at comparable levels in fields including defence, industry, energy, pharmaceutical, biomedical, construction, fashion, finance, banking, FMCG, property, publishing, healthcare, travel, policing, crown office, local and central government. He has specialist banking experience with investment, private, commercial, business, trading, wealth management in Europe, USA, China, Australia, Japan and Russia.

Karl Smith is a Founder and Director of UCD UK Conferences.

Karl has worked with several companies to define for launch or redefine their service offerings, business structures or digital presence including;

  • Avaloq AG – Setting up enterprise wide adoption of design thinking principals, master plan delivered in just two months.
  • Wipro Digital – Launch Wipro Digital, Design Thinking, Service Design, Creative Technology Services, User Experience Strategy, Creative Design Services, M&A Designit – 2014
  • Accenture – Launch of Enterprise User Experience, Digital Services Launch, M&A Fjord – 2012
  • Pearson Publishing – Digital Services Restructuring – 2011
  • Deutsche Bank – Self Service Paradigm Shift – 2011
  • RBS – Risk Management – 2010
  • The Oxford University Press – Mobile First Digital Strategy – 2009

Karl Smith has a wide experience in management consultancy and digital technology including business management, start-up, business strategy, digital strategy, advertising, customer experience, user experience, productisation, governance, change management, project management (waterfall & Agile), enterprise architecture and project definition, design, optimisation, delivery and digital marketing. He has been honoured by the British Computer Society for his eminence and significant contribution to the fields of UCD and User Experience with a Fellowship.

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