An interview with a #User #Experience #Guru

User Experience (UX) looks pretty simple can anyone do it?

No it’s a skill and knowledge based activity, I look for communicators with formal science qualifications (BSc, MSc or PhD), standards knowledge, creativity and genius level intelligence.

Wow you need to be a genius to do User Experience (UX)?

Not exactly, but it helps. User Experience is a complex translation process, requirements are tested with users and transformed. These user requirements are then filtered through standards and then transformed again into concepts. The concepts are then transformed into functional and non functional specification (mostly as user stories) which are transformed again into wireframes, annotations and models. Finally developers build UIs supported by User Experience which are then tested by User Experience.

All of this must be conducted under strict scientific rigour and be repeatable by another User Experience practitioner. Most people who say they do User Experience simply can’t do this process.

But everyone’s opinion is important?

No they are not. Think about it why are companies looking for User Experience (UX)? It’s because they recognise that they need to build experiences that their customers want to have in order to have an active and continuing relationship. If you recognise this is a relationship between a business (that is the brand, ethos or product capability, not people) and end users or customers then they should be given equal priority in the project. Business requirements plus User requirements become project requirements.

How do you get this equal priority?

The business will have clear objective and sometimes an overarching strategy so usually that is clear. But end users and customers require user research by an experienced non partisan User Experience practitioner. Ultimately the level of risk on non adoption, training required or out right ridicule (by the public on social media) has a direct inverse relationship to the amount user research conducted. Projects with User Experience people on them but no user research have a 70% failure chance compared to projects with scientific rigour having a 30% failure chance. The 30% comes from stakeholders or other project team members changing things to fit their opinion after UX has completed their work.

So are UX people always right and other people on a project team are wrong?

No not at all, User Experience people are not speaking for themselves or protecting their design, they speak for users and the best alignment of the users experience with the business.

More of the interview to follow in Part 2.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / /

#Subsistence #UX #Resolution UX #Gain UX or #Advantage UX what results do you get?

Subsistence UX, Resolution UX, Gain UX or Advantage UX ?

What do clients require, what are clients getting and can they tell the difference in the level of UX or do they just not call again?

There is a major problem with user experience UX as it evolves, many projects are not underwriting their solutions with recent and client specific UX research but are relying on past patterns. In turn this has caused the creation of streams or levels of UX capability and delivery; Subsistence UX, Resolution UX, Gain UX or Advantage UX.

Pattern based UX has been added to major software by companies who build static interaction libraries for front end development tools, as if everything in user experience and interactive systems can be or should be limited to the same interactive behaviours as every other system!

When I commission a digital system for a client, I would want to know what has been used already and who else has the same thing.

Subsistence UX

Pattern based user experience, where the person (interaction designer, visual designer, UI developer) providing the service has not conducted UX requirements gathering and UX research. The result of this type of UX is survival but it does not support growth as it was not conceived by understanding targeted users. Many practitioners would not consider this UX at all, but it is what lots of clients are being sold as UX.

Resolution UX

Fixing basic problems with a user experience would at first glance appear easy, but in fact it’s more difficult than working on a green field project, because no matter how bad the experience is, people have become use to it. With existing users involved projects are not a fix problem, it’s becomes a fix and migration problem. UX people should be asking themselves ‘how do I in UX facilitate users moving from one experience to another?’ This requires a mixture of analytics and user workshops (group work) to rapidly find a common interactive language for the systems target audience.

Gain UX

Understanding the motivation, desires and needs of targeted users in defining UX requirements (changing the project/business requirements) enable gain type UX. This type of UX is front loaded (quick wins) on to projects to establish clarity of focus that enables the adoption and rapid integration of complex interactive systems.

Advantage UX

Advantage based UX, is like Gain in that the focus is the user, but at a strategic and architectural level. Almost everyone you ask at the strategic level will say ‘yes we focus on the user’ but they don’t think like the user, they think like someone selling or engaging with the user and are not objective.

Advantage based UX has the rights to questions the reason for projects, by asking ‘what benefit does the user get from this? does this reduce our trusted brand status? etc.’ Advantage is always set by being where there market is often before they know that where they are themselves. How? By modelling user logic, user behaviours, user interaction, external factors upon personas and target markets it’s really complex, that’s why so few people and companies do it.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

#UX #Requirements #gathering #preparation

People focused Requirements

Capturing requirements is subject to other peoples availability, this remains one of the most painful parts of the process as few participants seem to understand just how important their experience is to the project. Often a participant can shape the final output without realising they have done so, I include a Show and Tell component to requirements research as it informs participants that the information provided is important, has been used and is affecting the whole project. Additionally Show and Tell is critical to validation and creating buy in. I will post more about Show and Tell later.

Screening Participants

Creating a participant profile

There are several key questions that the facilitator needs to ask themselves when preparing to do research;

  • What do I need to know?
  • How will I cross relate requirements sessions?
  • Does this domain have it’s own rule system?
  • Does this domain have it’s own language and is it inclusive or exclusive?

The participant profile needs to represent the answers to the above questions, a good place to look for participants is senior managers (not directors) as they still have direct reports from the bleeding edge of business but have gained a level of strategic understanding both for their area and the ebb and flow of internal politics. Dependant upon the project type an understanding of the their knowledge base (within the business or organisation) is required as it determines the weight their views should carry. Other significant factors include; length of service (often describes personal drivers), education background and level, attitudes and behaviour (tend to be observational by selectors) and social / business importance.

Selecting participants

There is a huge amount of internal politics involved in projects and often unsuitable participants are forced on projects, often as internal staff have failed to create buy in internally. I tend to work with a selection group of two to three internal people to help me understand the value each participant add to the project or the threats and risks associated with their internal agendas.

Case Study 3

I was involved with a offshore wealth management (HNW and UHNW) companies major project as a UX consultant for a new truly complex asset trading and policy construction system (a type of which I had completed before as an Enterprise Solutions Architect). I had requested but never received a profile of each participant as they had been pre-selected by the client. I had spent several days meeting people with valuable hands on experience and then I was put into an office with a Director of Sales who after 10 minutes showed an obvious controlling agenda stating “they work for me” when describing several staff members (who incidentally did not work for her). I completed the requirements gathering process and found that the Director of Sales requested other staff in the agency to work on the project. The agency involved had no specific experience in this type of system so had acquired my services specifically to work on this project. I understand they are now on to their third UX person on this project since I left, frankly the project is not standard UX and they are in deep trouble. On my side I was stunned but still think it’s one of the funniest experiences I have had working with people.

In short if your standard preparation methods have been circumvented by your clients it is a clear indication that there are problems now and will be problems on the project in the future.

Tagged : / / / / / / / / /