Experience Design Strategy: A North Star Approach
Published On: June 8, 2017
The human experience is rapidly shifting from physical to digital and the demand for high-quality digital experiences is higher than ever. Companies are taking note and moving as quickly as possible to compete by improving the many points through which they reach customers and in many cases their own employees.
This new economic shift is often referred to as the "Experience Economy" and there seems to be three ways to build a competitive advantage in the new environment:
Inspire, differentiate, and innovate – through experience design strategy!
What is an experience design strategy?
An experience design strategy lives at the ecosystem level, not the product level. It acts as the north star, guiding the design for the many system-wide interactions that make up your customer's experience. It is a detailed plan that guides a company and its resources toward a common goal of building brand value, inspiring competence and building trust with customers through user experience.
A strong strategy will outline the activities necessary for reaching that goal, and coordinate necessary teams to take action. While not every interaction must be groundbreaking, a strategic approach to experience design will ensure positive and memorable interactions are created.
Experience strategy will inform more specific user experience tactics like: deciding how to display content on a web page, actively working to reduce cognitive load, using a responsive framework, or testing early and often. The UX tactics and activities defined within a strategy should be informed by a broader mission statement or goal, such as:
- Empower a segment of users to express themselves
- Inspire trust through transparency
- Enable users to contribute to and shape the product experience
An experience strategy should also inform product and service design. The strategy should identify opportunities to differentiate your company from the competition and build lasting value by building a truly superior offering. By reaching these goals you will be creating an experience that is distinct in your customer's mind and worthy of recommending to others.
How Do We Create An Experience Strategy?
Developing a strategy requires a clear position. We determine who you are relative to your competitors. It also requires a pattern or approach to follow to deliver value, gain competitive advantage, and reinforce your position.
Steps to building an experience strategy:
- Analyze existing strategies and customer data
- Identify areas of constraint and areas that bring the most business value
- Analyze customer data like analytics and demographics
- Conduct research to expand existing knowledge
- Identify all user touch points
- Identify pain points
- Engage with customers
- Create personas and map customer experiences
- Draw from all available data to identify areas of opportunity
- Illustrate high value experiences through visual maps
- Combine all knowledge to generate your strategy
- Define problems and opportunities
- Design and test solutions through prototyping software
- Determine final solution and begin implementation
- Construct a detailed product road map to guide development
- Refine and optimize strategy throughout
"The digital and physical worlds are starting to come together more seamlessly–it's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's coming."
- Mark Parker, Nike CEO
The 3 most common UX Maps
Experience maps, customer journey maps, and service blueprints represent different processes and goals, yet their purpose is to align the customer experience with business initiatives, yielding opportunity and insight into innovative products and services. They are a means to engaging interdisciplinary team conversation and establishing common ground. This article is an overview of the three most common experience mappings you will likely see, and when to use which:
We begin projects looking at the big picture, so let's discuss experience maps. An experience map is a visualization of an entire end-to-end experience that gives teams perspective and understanding of different touchpoints and challenges of their customers. Experience maps are not linked to a specific product or service and move discussions toward the desired outcomes people seek. These types of diagrams offer a more holistic perspective (than a customer journey) of the human experience with a brand and fundamentally recognize that people interact with many products and services from a multitude of providers in many situations which is increasingly crucial as products and services become connected with each other.
Customer Journey Map
Customer journey maps focus on a specific customer’s interaction with a product or service. Like experience maps, customer journeys are chronological and used for understanding and addressing customer needs and pain points. For example, we worked with a SaaS company to better understand it's customer support experience. By focusing on one specific segment (open ticket through resolution), we were able to determine customer journey touchpoints that caused pain or delight.
The Evolution Of Marketing Through CX
Marketing is both expanding and evolving as consumers continue to place a higher value on the experience they have with a company. We are creating more experience design strategies than ever and executing experience design patterns across digital channels. These responsibilities often include:
As Above, So Below The Fold
In case you forgot..."the fold" is an invisible line on a webpage drawn at the bottom edge of the browser window. Content which is above the fold does not require scrolling to view. Content that is below the fold requires a user to scroll past the fold to view.