UX Strategy is the North Star of the user experience process – so where does that leave UX design? Expert advice from Justinmind and Jaime LevyUX Strategy lies at the crossroads of UX design and business strategy — Jaime Levy Click To Tweet
User experience is integral to creating digital products around user expectations. So much so that it features in each phase of product creation – from discovery and ideation to UX design and user testing, and on to code and release. Its impact is so great that it even remains an active ingredient in the end product, contributing to your user’s overall satisfaction.
But despite its prominence, some of us are still hazy on the details of the UX process. For instance, what is a UX strategy, and how does it contribute to UX design?
In a nutshell, a good web design project needs a strong UX strategy (or long-term plan) to ensure that it follows a user-centric approach, as well as aligns with the company’s vision. With some help from the UX experts, including UX Strategist Jaime Levy, this post will guide you through the finer points of UX strategy and UX design so that you can build the ideal UX process.
What is UX strategy?
UX strategy has been defined in a variety of different ways by the experts.
- Jaime Levy tell us that it’s about identifying a ‘North Star’; a strategic way to design UI UX.
- Senior User Experience Researcher David Juhlin talks about 5 levels of UX strategy that align UX and business strategy here.
- Senior Product Designer Sherif Amin describes it as the intersection between three concepts: human elements (the people and teams involved, including stakeholders), informational elements (data and user research), and desired outcomes (features, functionality and success metrics).
Whichever way you look at UX strategy, it all boils down to why and how you’re going to implement user experience in your software.
Defining your UX strategy involves planning your requirements around user goals and stakeholder business strategies. According to Tim Loo at Foolproof, strong UX strategy will include the following:
- The status of your user experience as it stands
- A vision of how you wish to improve your UX
- Your anticipated gains from improving your UX
- A roadmap with prioritized goals for visualizing the how and when you will implement your adjustments
- A list of the metrics you’ll use to measure the ROI of your UX activities
- A plan of your team’s workflow
Why you need a UX strategy
UX strategy means killer design strategy. By defining every aspect of the user experience before initiating the design phase, you’re giving your team direction for all aspects of the design. This means fewer misunderstandings, and less rework and resource wastage during the design process.
If that’s not enough of a reason to jump on the UX strategy bandwagon, here are some more incentives:
- To keep up with user behavioral patterns. As technology transforms and improves ever more rapidly, so does user behavior and adoption of new tools and features. Companies need to be continue to predict user expectations and deliver digital products that delight users.
- To align different product teams around a shared product vision. This will help teams maintain consistency across UX touchpoints, features, and devices so that the user always has connected, frictionless experiences.
- To ensure that you have a plan to measure your successes and yes, your failures.
Creating your UX strategy
To get started, you need to identify gaps and UX opportunities in the market, where a product could provide value. Perform a competitor analysis to gain insights into the market and then focus your design efforts around the data you’ve gathered.
As important as initial market research is, you will also need to think about specific target user groups for a real competitive advantage. To better understand your customers, create personas and scenarios. Build them up with the data gathered in your competitive analysis, (plus some past analytics to pinpoint things that users liked and disliked, if you’re performing a redesign).
The next step is to define your product strategy by writing a value proposition that defines the problem, how you seek to solve it and the tangible results for the user. As Gregory Ciotti at Help Scout puts it, “A well-defined problem is half solved.”
Once this is done, you can start to think about what features will bring about the best results, and prioritize them based on user goals and stakeholder ranking.
The final step is to create storyboards to create a narrative around your product goals, as well as validate your value proposition.
Then it’s time to get designing!
What is UX design?
In UX design, we create delightful experiences through the implementation of UX strategy. User experience design seeks to improve the usability, accessibility, aesthetics and interactive elements of a web or mobile user interface in order to enhance user satisfaction.
Sketch, Adobe and Justinmind are a great combination of design tools for your UX design toolkit.
How to implement your UX strategy in your UX process
Sketching your initial design assumptions
The first step in your UX process should be to sketch out the high level features and screens with the design assumptions you identified in the UX strategy. At this stage, keep things basic. Use pen and paper (or Justinmind’s Sketching wireframe UI kit) and just get your initial ideas down.
Create wireframes to map out your navigation flow
Next, use a low-fidelity wireframing tool to create your design assets, flesh out your screens and, most importantly, define your user flow. Without an intuitive user or navigation flow, users won’t be able to reach their end goals and the user experience will suffer.
Build up to a mid-to-high fidelity prototype
Now, you’ll want to build up your wireframe with an interactive prototyping tool, such as Justinmind. At this stage, your visual design and navigation flow should be refined.
With Justinmind, use the Events system to make your prototype clickable. Add events, animations and transition effects, as well as gestures for mobile app prototypes.
You can also create and simulate scenarios to test your design assumptions against the personas you created when defining your UX and design strategy.
Testing is where you will validate your design assumptions against your product goals with real users. There are several ways to do this, such as a heuristic evaluation, or quantitative or qualitative user testing. Whichever you choose, create a prototype that users can relate o for the most accurate feedback.
Then, use that feedback to refine your prototype before sending it to the development team for coding.
Hopefully this post has informed you – or refreshed your memory – about the UX process. When it comes to UX, there is always more to learn. So, when in doubt, ask an expert!