July 23rd, 2012
The task of coming up with a long-term vision of your design can be a daunting one. It’s a lot of responsibility to try to imagine what an ideal experience can be, then render a possible design that makes that easier.
However, there’s a way to break down the problem into bite-sized bits that make it far easier. By doing that, a vision emerges from a series of smaller, um, shall we call them, visionettes.
Here’s how you do it:
First, go out and study people using today’s solutions, whether it be your current design or just how people solve the inherent problems with whatever they have. As you’re observing them, note the order of the steps they take and whether each step is frustrating or delightful.
The second step is to create a journey map that shows the experience of the user. Typically, these are a horizontal timeline that represent each step. The higher the point on the timeline, the less frustrated and more delighted the user is at that point. When you’re done, you’ll have mapped out the current experience for that user. Repeat for each user and look for patterns.
[If you're not familiar with journey maps, there are some great examples in this article by Megan Grocki and Jamie Thompson.]
The third step is to draw an archetypal journey map – one for an imaginary user that falls into the patterns you’ve observed. (If you do more than one of these, you basically have multiple personas to work with. Not necessary, but might provide some interesting insights, especially if the activities vary widely.)
The fourth step is to take the archetypal journey map and look at the frustrating dips in the experience. Ask your team: what could we do to make each of these better? Can we change the design to be more delightful? Is there a way to eliminate the step altogether?
By focusing on the individual bits of frustration, we can get a jumpstart on what our overall vision might be. It’s easy to take, say a hard-to-use dialog and imagine a cleaned up version. Then we can do that two or three more times, and see something that flows more smoothly.
Once we’ve tackled all the low bits in our design, we’ll have a good starting point for a future vision that is a more delightful experience.Tweet