The role of UX Strategist has been popping up lately in job descriptions, discussion forums, and professional profiles on the Web. Clients have assigned this role to me on a number of consulting projects. Some of my colleagues have taken UX Strategist as their new title. But what does a UX Strategist do that’s different from, say, a UX Architect or a UX Designer or a Director of User Experience? Does this role open up a new career path for UX professionals, or is this title just a way of making our work sound more important? Recently, I did some research, and I’d like to use this edition of my column UX Strategy to take a stab at defining the role of UX Strategist as it stands today. Read More
Personas have been a popular approach for guiding the design of Web sites and mobile apps. However, some in the UX community are now saying that personas have been superseded by the availability of more accurate data or by newer UX design and development methods. In this column, I’ll give a quick overview of how my team and I formulate personas, then discuss the three reasons I most often hear for abandoning personas as a design tool.
The Early Days of Web Design
During the first wave of Web design, before most people called it UX design, there were few standards or tools to rely on for strategic guidance. One of the earliest tools for introducing strategy into the more or less free-form creative process was the company brand book. A brand book is a detailed description of how to express brand attributes in visual design and content. Typically, a Creative Director would distribute the brand book of a company for whom we were designing a Web site at the beginning of a project and expected all subsequent design work to conform to its standards. Read More
User experience design evolved out of a discipline that was previously known as user interface design. Before user experience entered the popular vernacular, user interface designers were responsible for creating the thin visual and functional layer of software that allowed humans who didn’t know any programming language to successfully interact with computers. But since the emergence of the term user experience, as it has become more prominent, it has come to refer to the design of a full range of digital touchpoints that mediate the relationship between an individual user and the products or services a company or organization develops. Although this change in terminology wasn’t dramatic, the shift in focus from designing a user interface that makes computers easier to use to designing an engaging, relationship-building experience is a substantial transformation.
However, not all digital design teams have participated in this transformation. Some User Experience teams still focus primarily on designing user interfaces rather than the more strategic aspects of user experience. Perhaps they don't yet have the authority, the resources, or the access to the people and business information that they would need to deliver a holistic experience for their users. So, they continue to focus on the thin visual and functional layer of a Web site or application. There is nothing wrong with that—unless a team aspires to take on a larger, more mission-critical role in their company’s future. Read More