While every strategy will differ dependant upon the product/business, a few key points should remain at the core of our thinking when it comes to UX Strategy.
First and foremost, the business strategy must direct the UX strategy. As User Experience professionals we need to tailor our work to specifically meet the company goals. By setting KPI’s (key performance indicators) with the stakeholders we are able to track the success of our endeavours. Before starting any new work, agree the KPI and agree the metric against which to measure success. And, of course, ensure you have a baseline against which to measure!
Next: Figure out who your competition is. What are they doing well and where are they less successful? Determine what appears to be the key distinguishing factors in their user experiences. And then track these periodically with screengrabs and notes. As you understand how they develop, you may see how their users needs differ, or are similar, to your user needs.
Measure! Analytics are vital to a successful UX strategy. This ties in nicely with my first point regarding the KPI’s. Once you have agreed a metric against which to to measure success, you need to be able to track it. Web analytics will be brutally honest about your successes and failures.
Don’t try to design for everyone; understand your audience. Who is your user and why do they use your product? Personas, Empathy Maps and Mental Models really help with this process. These should be living. breathing documents that are updated regularly. Personas can be created from qualitative and/or quantitative data and should be available to everybody on the team so that they are all able to approach the product from the user’s perspective.
Take a holistic approach. Build an interaction model of the activity you are designing a solution for. This forces us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If you solve the wrong problem, it doesn’t matter how well you solve it. “Your UX strategy should set your design direction at the level of an interaction model, which means taking a much higher-order and longer-term view than simply listing features and creating design templates and patterns. By prioritizing areas of the diagram on which to focus resources over time, you can create a road map that ties directly to things the business cares about” -Paul Bryan.
Think long term. The UX strategy should encourage a cohesive approach to the design. A product is more than just a sum of it’s parts. Before spending hours undertaking the implementation of an exciting new feature, we must understand how it fits into the bigger picture, and whether it is indeed necessary. The UX strategist must create a roadmap that guides design efforts over time.
To summarise: UX strategy must be based on core business objectives, be contextualised against competitors, and be focussed on the audience. Success and failure must be trackable with analytics. And finally, by taking a holistic approach, the UX strategy should encourage design cohesion.