10 Lean UX Secrets for Successful Strategy Sessions

Notes on a presentation by John Whelan, Brilliant Experience’s Founder and UX Lead, at the 2013 MoDevUX Conference, link here.

Some methodologies:

  • Design Thinking: Reasearch, ideate, prototype, test then back to ideate (more specifically Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test)
  • Lean Startup: Build (product), Measure (data), Learn (ideas)
  • Agile: User Stories, Design & Develop, Feedback

Lean UX

  • Concept > Prototype > Internal Validation > External Testing > Learn from User Behavior > Iterate

Key Belief No. 1: Must balance business & user needs

Key Belief No. 2: Iteration improves the product

10 SECRETS to a successful strategy session

This is a cycle of Business Needs, Audience Needs, Ideation and Sketching.

1. Get the stakeholders aligned on prioritized business needs/goals.

  • Create an elevator pitch: For (target customer) who (customer need), OurProduct is a (market category) that (one key benefit). Unlike (competitor), OurProduct (unique differentiator). Have each team members create their own pitches. Post the pitch framework (For ___ who ___, OurProduct ___. Unlike ___, OurProduct ___.) to a dedicated board/wall and and have people put their answers on PostIts underneath. Have everyone put dots on which PostIts they think are most important and then use consensus to develop high-level priorities for the product.
  • Repeat the PostIt/Dot process to establish high-level business goals.

2. Prioritize only a few personas.

  • Create personas on PostIts and do the dot exercise again to create a few prioritized personas.
  • Create all the personas quickly, perhaps in 20 minutes. This is LeanUX! Don’t overthink them.

3. Create scenarios for the personas.

  • Including one in which the user is fearful that they won’t understand/be able to use the product. That will help focus on keeping all users comfortable.

4. Map out the experience journey.

5. Debate design direction alternatives early in the process.

  • Sketch quickly and plentifully! Volume not quality counts. Try 8 sketching boxes per piece of paper so that people are forced to focus on the general and not the specific. Ideate, Present, Critique (gently), Refine the favorites. Repeat the process.

6. Develop a big-picture conceptual model with stakeholders, NOT the design.

7. Rapidly iterate design.

  • See if you can design and test in a single day, then repeat the process several days in a row.

8. Continually do usability testing.

  • Watch the product in action to make sure you’re focused enough on user-friendly content and not too much on stakeholder-driven navigation and marketing jargon.

9. Share broadly–publish the tests and results so that all can see them.

  • Do testing internally as well and be attentive to internal feedback.

10. Visual and interaction design do matter!

  • Research has proven that users have a bias that graphically-designed interactive interfaces are automatically more usable than plain non-functional wireframe interfaces–even when they have the exact same functionalities.
  • It doesn’t have to be the final design, or even good design, just designed enough so that users feel comfortable that it’s “done and ready to use” (ie it looks like a real site they would see on the web).



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