Creating a vision
December 5, 2019  

Supplied by entelect2013 Administrator from entelect2013
It all starts with a vision. Often business-as-usual includes putting out fires, making sure the small things are happening, and meeting short-term targets. For an organisation to truly be disruptive, it needs an overarching vision of where it wants to be – no matter how ambitious it might be. Without an ambitious vision, organisations tend to wither away over time. Let’s explore the facets that can guide defining a vision.



It all starts with a vision. Often business-as-usual includes putting out fires, making sure the small things are happening, and meeting short-term targets. For an organisation to truly be disruptive, it needs an overarching vision of where it wants to be – no matter how ambitious it might be. Without an ambitious vision, organisations tend to wither away over time. Let’s explore the facets that can guide defining a vision.



As users, we all know what it feels like to get frustrated with technology, but we also know the immense joy and empowerment it can bring to our lives when a solution is done right. We have apps on our phone that we simply cannot live without, other apps that are deleted within 3 seconds of downloading, and apps that are simply relegated to the app graveyard.


As people, we don’t care about features, we care about accomplishing a goal. It might be communicating with loved ones, managing finances, or sharing your memories. The technical bits that make these things happen mean nothing.


The key to the success of a digital solution is adoption by users and that can only be enabled through empathy for all involved, using robust qualitative research (research that’s more opinion) and quantitative research (research that’s more empirical).



The life of a solution begins with an idea; the business recognises a challenge and feels it may be solved through technology. Business stakeholders may already have a clear idea of what form the solution should take, what type of tech to use and what the eventual outcome may look like. The important factors often forgotten are seeing the solution as a vehicle for strategic innovation by empathising with the people actually involved in the trenches and being open-minded about who the customers are, what their goals are, and how these ideas can address those issues while providing business value.



UX engineering means to be involved with business and technical stakeholders from the very beginning to understand the potential constraints and opportunities for any potential solution. This can take many forms, such as stakeholder interviews or focus groups, heuristic evaluation (expert assessments of existing systems) and analysis of existing user data, and business or technical processes. This will allow the construction of a broad framework to direct research and design goals. Without this step, the solution is at risk of being designed solely for the assumed requirements and not the ecosystem in which the solution must live.


While a thorough understanding of the business and technology is vital, it should not affect the necessary objectivity or empathy required when engaging with the users or potential users of the solution. To retain objectivity and guide a user-centred design approach, we must employ rigorous research methods ranging from large quantitative data-gathering to smaller, more targeted qualitative exercises. The type of research methods selected are as important as the research itself and the project should have a strategic UX plan to guide that process. The next diagram shows where different research approaches fit within the UX research landscape.




There are many considerations when choosing which research method to use and the following should be considered at the start of every project:

•    What is this research method typically used for?
•    What will implementing this method cost?
•    How difficult will it be to collect the data?
•    How difficult will it be to analyse the data?
•    What type of research category does this fall into?
•    What is the context of use of the method?



In addition to classic UX research methods, there are many new ways in which UX engineers engage with both stakeholders and users. One that has gained traction over recent years is Design Sprints. Design Sprints were created to condense and target various UX methods such as stakeholder engagement and user testing into a fast and furious 5 days. More on this coming up.



The activities and artefacts generated through UX engineering include valuable information from different dimensions of the business and project. These finding are invaluable references for making critical decisions about features and direction.  

•    Contextual inquiries: Data-gathering technique combing observational research and semi-structured interviews in the user’s context of use
•    One on one interviews and/or focus group transcripts and analysis
•    Thematic analysis: Ways to organise research gathered, such as interviews or observations into useful and consistent themes
•    Personas: Consolidating research on users into imagined users to represent a larger set of data
•    User journeys: Mapping the entire journey that a user/customer takes during their use of a product or service, which aids in understanding sentiment, needs and goals




A Design Sprint is an excellent tool in the case where the business needs to be involved in ideation. As mentioned previously, this is a 5-day design process including all those that will be involved in making the project a success. Prior to beginning the sprint, those involved must have consumed the research gathered in the previous phase of the design lifecycle and now have solid grasp of their users.



Day One
We define our goals both for the business and the users. We then define the actors involved in the business problem and then map their journey towards the defined goals. We will also come up with questions and ideas through a process called "How Might We" (HMW). This involves crowd sourcing thoughts in a structured way to provide detailed context about a process. Additionally, it highlights areas of interest through a voting process.


Day Two
We’ll begin sketching out possible solutions to the problem. There are many methods we use to encourage creativity and allow stakeholders to explore their ability to ideate, free of constraints. We will then display the works, present them and vote on them.

Day Three
We’ll do the final round of voting and then begin storyboarding the solution using the best parts of each idea or sketch. As you can see, we start with individuals working collectively to form individual ideas, that are then voted on and consolidated into a single vision – this is why the eventual storyboard is so powerful.


Day Four
On the fourth day, our design team prototypes the solution. The other stakeholders may be involved if they so desire or if it is necessary to the goal, but it is often just the design team that manages this part of the process. We design a working prototype to test with real users the next day.


Day Five
On the fifth day, we venture out into real-world operations where the solution may be used. User testing is conducted and provides an opportunity to learn and validate solutions. This gives us crucial insights into the viability of a solution or part of a solution which can then be reported back to the stakeholders. In this way, we can know what works and what doesn’t with little time wasted if the idea fails and much gained if it is a success.


Prototyping and testing are however more involved processes for the solution as a whole. So, while the Design Sprint offers a way to tackle innovation and collaboration on specific areas of a solution, dedicated and extensive prototyping and testing is still required.



The power of the prototype is that one can create a testable design in significantly less time than it takes to develop a solution in code. According to Dr Susan Weinschenk in her paper Usability: A Business Case, 50% of development time can be saved by doing UX research upfront. Testing can take many forms, much like the user research mentioned above. Some of the same techniques we saw in the user research phase can and will be repeated here, for example:




•    Usability-lab studies: Controlled and observed test of users, using your prototype.
•    Eye tracking: Users eye movements are tracked while using a prototype, to understand focus areas and how to optimise the design.
•    A/B testing: Testing variations of your prototype or elements of it, to see which designs users favour.




Based on the testing done on the prototypes, the UX engineer can continue to refine the designs until they have been optimised. The reporting done during the prototype testing is again hugely valuable for the understanding of all stakeholders as to why certain design decisions have been taken. In fact, it is ideal if the product owner and team attend some of the user tests, as this engenders empathy and understanding directly.



If a UX engineer is included in the process, it will have continuous value to all those involved in the project later down the line. The result should be a set of validated and tested prototypes that consolidate all stakeholders needs into a design vision. It should also enable decision makers, architects, developers and analysts to add value to the solution in new and innovative ways, driven by a robust body of research.


Read the full From Here to There publication here.


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