There's a common misconception that an effective user experience (UX) strategy focuses solely on the final interface. After all, what else is a user looking for apart from something that’s visually appealing and works well?
While paying attention to those key areas is, of course, critical to your UX strategy, the downfall occurs when developers mistakenly believe that these are the only elements to consider in a UX strategy.
User experience strategy is a fully integrated process that begins well before you get to the design stage. An effective UX strategy has its ideologies firmly ingrained in the core of the business and in the understanding of the products’ potential users.
UX strategy isn't just a one-off process. An effective UX strategy evolves and matures in line with real-time results of testing, development of products, and thorough analysis once the product has launched. It starts, logically, at the beginning and, little known to some, it potentially may never end.
If you're new to designing user experience strategies, or you're looking for a bigger picture overview of what a UX strategy involves, here are three stages of UX strategy which you must not miss!
Stage one: Research and analysis.
Research doesn't begin with the product, it begins with the business.
You need to know the background setting for the product, how it will give value to the target market, who the market is, and who the key investors in your product are.
Before you take the first step into your UX strategy you must have a thorough understanding of the company and its mission because your UX strategy will be very much in line with this.
Further to the details of the product, the designer must understand personalities involved in the design project. Some personnel involved in the project may believe they understand UX trategy, but their level of knowledge might be limited. They may have suggestions which will help turn their own product dreams into a reality but they haven't considered the practicalities of these suggestions simply because they're not experienced in UX.
While it's not their area of expertise, you’ll need to take these opinions into consideration as part of your research process. Even if it's only to promptly dispel them!
User experience strategy is so much more than having ideas. The key to successful UX strategy lies in analysing the advantages and disadvantages of your ideas and then developing them into a working concept to build upon in the future.
The research involved in creating your initial concept must involve everyone who has a vested interest in the product and will help you understand the target market of the product. While company personnel are often interested in practical matters such as cost, time constraints, and branding, you also need to focus very much on the emotional needs of the intended user to make sure there is a valid need for the product you create.
As part of your UX design strategy, get to know everyone involved in the project, learn from them, and teach them your way too!
The extent of your research depends wholly on the size of the project and while smaller projects might not need as much detail, research for larger projects can be complex and involved.
Unfortunately, research is often overlooked as the critical component that it is. For a successful UX strategy, you must spend time brainstorming, create best practice documents, and engage with key stakeholders (both internal and external), and make sure this research is detailed.
Once you've conducted thorough research, you're well-armed to create a powerful UX vision which will address all customer needs, strengthen your brand, and tie it all together to create a user experience that will create a unified relationship between the business and their customer.
Stage two: Design and create.
The design stage is where you combine all your research to create the first prototype of your project. Designing is a progressive process which you refine as you go based on partner feedback and recommendations.
The bigger picture ideas for your project will start to come to life here. Things that you thought would work might not, and vice versa.
When you start to create your project, you'll move away from working with internal stakeholders and start to liaise with external developers who will help you produce the first mock-up of your design.
During the design and creating phase, you'll produce the first prototype, define mobilisation parameters, create experience maps, and create the first outline.
While there are many differences between traditional UX strategies and lean startup principles, feedback from users and stakeholders is at the core of all methods of product development and should be treated with significant importance whatever your approach to UX strategy.
Stage three: Launch and evaluate.
UX strategy doesn't stop once the product launches. It's an ongoing process that advances the product until it meets, and then exceeds, all the needs of the user.
Product inefficiencies should have been identified during the previous two stages and all your actions prior to launch should reduce the risk of problems with software or design after the launch.
Implement robust evaluation procedures to gather feedback on user experience including their emotional response and how the product works both technically and from a customer satisfaction perspective. The evaluation requires a continual commitment to continue to improve the product based on feedback given to you by actual users.
The evaluation process may encompass A/B testing, user testing and the implementation of problem logs. It's important to remember that while your research will help you make close assumptions, you can never fully predict a user's response until you've launched. Their constructive feedback is an opportunity to learn more about them for the next version of the product so this evaluation is vital.
Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!