Designing Digital Experiences

Maven Wave’s Approach to Great User Experiences

For any business or organization, it’s clear to see that customers and employees are changing; by 2020, people will likely manage 85% of their relationships with little-to-no human interaction. We live in a world that is increasingly social, mobile, and easy to use, with an emerging generation of people who expect dynamic and engaging digital experiences in both their personal and professional lives.

The digital age continually challenges the enterprise to evolve all aspects of its business. A defining piece of that challenge is integrating User Experience (UX) as a critical piece of any digital transformation journey. User experience is not just about making products and websites that look “pretty”—it’s about usability, accessibility, ease-of-use, and creating the right experiences for end users. And it isn’t just about engaging customers, it is also about engaging and retaining employees as well. As more and more Millennials join the workforce, enterprise digital tools must evolve to meet their expectations. In the fight for top talent, employee engagement with corporate technology and tools is becoming very important.

At Maven Wave, we think about User Experience in two ways: Experience Design and Agile-Integrated Design. Experience Design is focused on meeting strategic goals and business outcomes through the design of dynamic and engaging experiences for customers or employees. Agile-Integrated Design is focused on working with technical development teams to turn those experiences into tangible systems, web sites, and apps. This article describes our Experience Design approach. Look for a future piece on Maven Wave’s approach to Agile-Integrated Design.

Experience Design is not Visual Design

As pivotal as the Experience Design can be, it is oftentimes confused with visual design and simply designing things that “look nice”. Visual design, while important to any UX effort, is focused strictly on the design of the product itself. Experience Design is focused more broadly on the underlying human experience with that product. That’s not to say that the visual design shouldn’t be appealing, it’s just not the primary goal.

(Left) Visual Design is strictly focused on designing the look of the product. (Right) Experience Design is focused on designing the right human experience around the product.

Experience Design focuses on how the user will interact with the product or system— taking into account how the experience makes users feel, how it drives behaviors, and much, much more. Thus, to do true Experience Design right requires a deep understanding of your users.

Achieving Business Outcomes by Understanding Your Users

For any company, business outcomes are ultimately achieved through the changing of people’s’ behaviors. That change might be more of a certain good behavior, less of a bad behavior, or encouragement to adopt new behaviors. For customers, those behaviors could be anything from eCommerce purchase pathways to online self-service adoption. For employees, they could be specific workflows, processes, or collaboration.

As human beings, any of our behaviors can only be changed by first gaining insight into the underlying motivations behind those behaviors and then creating engaging experiences that harness those motivations appropriately.

Gaining that motivational insight requires significant research into user behaviors, emotions, journeys, and pain points. Even after working to gain this level of in-depth knowledge of users, many organizations struggle to connect that knowledge to the design of experiences and ultimately to digital systems, web sites, and apps. Artifacts like Personas, Journey Maps, and other user research deliverables only provide value if they can be effectively leveraged into experiences and then ultimately to the designs of actual digital systems.

Maven Wave has a differentiated Experience Design approach that can bridge the gap between user research and great experience design. It’s called Research-Driven Experience Design.

Research-Driven Experience Design

With Research-Driven Experience Design, we perform detailed user research using three methods to understand users, their behaviors and their motivations:

1. User Interviews and Observation

  • Live user observation and interviewing. Often filmed for analysis.
  • Eye tracking technology can identify common patterns, what’s missed.

2. Internal Stakeholder Interview

  • Business Understanding: What goals do internal stakeholders have for the application?
  • Internal Interviews: Interviews with subject matter experts, stakeholders, customer services representatives, etc.

3. Analytics & Heuristics

  • What paths do users follow? Where do they drop off?
  • Apply known UX principles that are not utilized.

This research is organized and consolidated to create persona-based information. We then map that information into two deliverables we call Persona Grids and Persona Maps. Persona Grids consolidate all the user research information into behavioral patterns that can be divided into a customized 4×4 grid that designates how behaviors can be described and mapped to personas along a spectrum from low to high. Each persona then has a behavioral designation show by its particular placement within the grid.

Sample persona grid

A Persona Map is then created to designate a specific persona pathway through the Persona Grid – highlighting how the behavioral changes along the way will achieve the intended business results. The Persona Map also calls out Motivational Design Themes that represent those behavior changes. The Motivational Design Themes can be used to define strategies, or specific system designs.

Sample persona map

Workshop-Based Experience Design

Maven Wave recognizes that not every business situation lends itself to the degree of user research, insight, behavioral changes, and motivational design in our Research-Driven Experience Design approach. To address simpler, more basic system designs like Intranets, dashboards, and basic visualizations, we’ve developed a leaner, more iterative design approach – Workshop-Based Experience Design.

Workshop-Based Experience Design is a focused set of brainstorming, ideation, sketching, validation, and design activities meant to quickly drive towards an initial design that can be iterated and updated during technical development. Working closely with the right stakeholders and key experts, a Workshop-Based Experience Design project can be executed in as little as 2-4 weeks utilizing a series of intense workshops and activities.

The process is based on a rapid brainstorming design process pioneered by Google Ventures and described in the book entitled SPRINT, by Jake Knapp.

When deciding which approach is right for your business, it’s important to evaluate where you are with understanding your users’ behaviors and what your ultimate desired business outcomes are. Maven Wave can help you decide and then guide you down the right path for creating winning digital experiences for you customers or employees.

Contact us for more information.

April 28th, 2017

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