Experience design – a positive disruption

Observation allows one to be objective and offer a fresh and if need be, positive disruption.

We have our own unique ways of running workshops and facilitating ideas as an inception team and I as an inception (early business envisioning and feasibility) lead. BUT we must humble ourselves it we are to remain open and suggestive to ideas. A leader and a strong team need to also listen. We should not be afraid to embrace a challenge, listen to ‘outsider’ feedback and incorporate it as part of how we create.

6 up - 30 minutes for ideas on related content, sharing, market differentiation, cross navigation, other navigation and user generated contentYesterday, I had the opportunity to go in and ‘observe’ an XD workshop as part of an inception. If anything I wanted to see how another team collaborates creatively with a client to get that good stuff we need to create stories to estimate that allow us to create the holy grail of a release plan.

What I learnt:

  • Ignorance is bliss – I came in NOT knowing anything about the project (it is not a programme!). The team brought me up to speed on the essentials and I looked at the personas for starters. I had to learn fast BUT that element of ‘not knowing’, if used ‘right’ allows you to rely on assumptions based on past experiences, different to what the team has already experienced in the inception -¬† a fresh view
  • 2.5 weeks is a ‘long’ time if most of it is spent exploring and not nailing the essentials fast
  • Visibility is key – We need to make sure the Parking lot, Out-of-scope, In-scope, RAIDs are ALL VISIBLE and referred to all the time – these need to be up on the wall so the client can see it and so no wires are crossed. Use these spaces to move features in and out but aim to slow movement down before estimating asap
  • What a difference a day makes – from little to no new stories to a huge bunch by the end of the day – fantastic BUT existing stories need to mapped to these quickly, Gaps highlighted and ‘filled’ and estimated asap. The client writing stories was great but they need to be read out and clarified asap.
  • Help where you can be most useful – sketching, user flows, writing stories, questioning technical feasibility, generally offering a holistic view as an agile coach
  • I could be the bad guy – I could bring stuff up and challenge the status quo and stir things up a little. This is interesting as it allowed me to re-energise and bring back items that may have been thrown out earlier into a new light for re-consideration
  • Break up – Based on prior experience, working to a tight schedule, separate in-depth, focussed technical break out sessions went well. At some point techinical folk need to separate and nail the technical RAIDs in order to write new stories etc.
  • One design is good enough. Remember it is an ‘experiment’: a minimum delightful product. There are enough user flows mapped and enough sketches to start consolidating them into one now. Splitting the groups into 4 instead of 2 meant more exploration but there are many commonalities. Unique ideas can be prioritised and represented all into one layout now. Don’t be afraid to narrow it down and propose one idea quickly. You need this to write and map stories.
  • Show progress from one day to the next. Don’t just walk away after a hard days work and pick up from where you left it with the client when they left. User journeys made up of related stories was brilliant they will love that. It shows how we have consolidated a days learnings into a considered and useful new arefact. The same needs to happen quickly with all other aspects of XD and technical e.g. re-sketch screens and interactions to map to user flows leading quickly to an exercise to create one design and eventually wire frames and hopefully a rapid prototype to demonstrate a key our journey with many if not all main touch points

Grouping stories together to form a user journey - spot the gaps, write more stories!

A few last words…

Some clients, some are are still quite set in their ways. Often when a rigid brief is handed to you, personas, prior research, wire frames, ideas are brought in almost as ‘non-negotiables’. Some ideas have even been ruled out before they have even been usability tested or realised. Not easy to take, break and remould…

Perhaps bringing in a casual observer (who never really just observes), who can disrupt is something we should be doing at strategic parts of envisioning and delivery all the time?

ok it is 4am and have have ranted enough (back to bed). Thoughts?

Five Digital Location Trends for 2011

I attended the Mashup event: Digital Trends for 2011 last night. There was a good panel of speakers made up of: Laurence¬†John, CEO Amadeus’ Seed Fund #1 & #2 at Amadeus Capital Partners, Andrew Gerrard, a Social and Digital business consultant, Gary Gale, Director of Ovi Places for Nokia; I’m also the co-founder of WhereCamp EU, James Poulter, a Digital Consultant at Lexis PR. Thanks to Stewart Townsend and his team for organising the event.

Gary spent the first 5 minutes going through his predictions for Digital Location Trends for 2011:

Gary Gale's Top 5 predictions for Location Trends 2011

Here is my interpretation:

  1. Privacy will matter – How much information do we really want to give away about ourselves. Perhaps just enough at the right time to get what we need? People don’t really know what is being data-mined and what information about themselves is being looked at and sold on. They will do in 2011 and they will want to get paid for it!
  2. Sensor convergence – GPS is no longer good enough. It is not every where, forever persistent. Contactless payments, near field locators will allow us to pay for anything automatically and keep us connected 24/7
  3. Location is a key feature, not a business – Mobile devices know where we are every second of the day. Businesses will use this to inform brands and marketers to better serve consumers with location relevant content that will be truly useful.
  4. More contextually relevant APIs (and maybe less apps) – There are too many disparate apps that do the same thing, that are not useful. Consumers will expect apps to connect their already busy digital social lives to save them time and perform truly useful functions.
  5. Geofencing and auto check inGoogle lattitude, FourSquare, FaceBook Places. See what friends and like minded individuals are doing in your area. Control your location and privacy. Share where you are with the friends you choose. Marketers and brands will need to be aware and see how they can be part of this new way of social navigation.

There was a lot talked about data gathering, privacy and how intelligent data driven marketing will allow London agencies to help their clients reach more valuable customers. Will cover this in another blog posting!

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