SXSW – Day 3: Bulletproofing your UX Strategy

The single most overheard phrase at SXSW? “I’m an interaction designer from New York”. Pretty impressive, considering the User Experience field of work didn’t really existing – at least in its current form – until a couple of years ago.

As a result, South-by is a bit of a mecca for UX designers, and provides an amazing opportunity to listen to a few of the best in the game discuss what is happening in the industry and what you can do to improve the work you are delivering.

Staying in the Lovepad with a real life(!) UX Designer from New York, it was strongly recommended I check out one session in particular. I was not disappointed.

5 Steps to Bulletproofing your UX Strategy – Robert Hoekman, jr – Director: Miskeeto

Good UX design should be so simple. Plan > grab user input > wireframe >prototype > fail > refine > re-test > iterate, >release. The problem for most organisations in implementing this is they fail before even hitting step 1. For most development shops, committing to a user experience strategy, and empowering it to sits alongside (and with equal importance) to the corporate vision, business strategy, and various mission statements and project management methodologies is still a bridge way to far.

Robert Hoekman is in the business of changing this. As an experience professional he works with large organisations to deeply embed UX in the corporate DNA. Though this, he helps to change the design mentality to reach a place where all decisions become defined by a UX vision.

So how do you move your UX strategy from building experience by default to experience by design? @rhjr offers his 5 steps to bulletproofing your UX Strategy:

Step 1) Audit:

This is where to start when considering improvement to your existing products.

  • Take inventory.
  • Compare to your competition (but understand that your competition are probably just as bad at UX as you are).
  • Be ruthless in your appraisal. What are the problems and the roadblocks?

Step 2) Define the vision

Is should be pretty simple, but Hoekman states that for the hundreds of organisations he has consulted with, barely a handful had made it to this stage. Whether you call it a missions statement, Customer Experience vision, or an Experience Promise®, it’s all the same concept works towards one a common goal – providing your developers and designers a higher purpose

  • A user experience visions paints a big red target on the wall.
    • When you know where you’re going, and why, the decisions become very easy.

To help in defining this vision for you organisation, Hoekman shared his Experience Vision template with the audience. Download the template at

Step 3) Plan

  • Identify the problem you’re looking to solve.
  • Establish the constraints (resources, budget), work out a lot of the design problems before the coders start looking at the work.
  • Design the end goal – what does the thing look like a long time from now.

Step 4) Implement

If you don’t build things yourself, work closely with the people who do.

  • The business needs to move away from the “throw it over the fence to IT” approach to doing things. If you’re not sitting alongside the developers writing the code, you need to be keeping very close tabs to ensure design decisions do not get made further downstream. One word: Agile.
  • If you implement changes without first designing the experience, they will come back to kick you in the ass.

Step 5) Measure

Metrics can tell you the basis of what you need to know about the user experience

  • Where are your customers coming from, what are they looking at, how much time are they spending on your site.
  • Start by grabbing whatever data you can at each state of the (5 part) customer experience lifecycle:
    • Acquisition, conversion, engagement, satisfaction.
  • A whole lot of things can change from concept to screen, and a lot of design decisions don’t work when code comes into play.

Want to know more:

Tweet hashtag:

  • #rhjr_ux5

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