UX STRAT 2014: Focusing on UX Strategy

UX Strategy

Building a rationale to guide design

A column by Paul Bryan
July 21, 2014

The field of UX strategy has been growing rapidly over the past couple of years, as a specialty within the broader field of user experience. In the past year, postings of jobs that specify UX strategy as a key competency and specialized UX Strategist roles have become increasingly frequent. Events, workshops, and classes whose focus is the topic of UX strategy have been springing up to meet the growing need for education and professional growth in this area.

In just a few short years, the UX Strategy and Planning group on LinkedIn has grown to over 12,000 members, providing an active forum for discussions about UX strategy and, more broadly, experience strategy. UX design and management professionals around the world are participating in the dialogue. UXmatters has dedicated a significant amount of space to publishing articles about UX strategy—including my column UX Strategy, which I began in January 2012, as well as UX STRAT 2013–speaker Ronnie Battista’s new Strategy Matters column—altogether, 190 articles on UX strategy topics by many thought leaders within the realm of UX strategy.

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UX STRAT 2013 was the first international conference to be dedicated specifically to the topic of UX strategy. Check out the #uxstrat Twitter stream, as well as the UX STRAT 2013 conference reviews by Margie Coles and Pabini Gabriel-Petit, which were published on UXmatters:

The UX STRAT conference will continue this year because the response to UX STRAT 2013 was enthusiastic—in terms of both the number of people who attended the conference and workshops and the social buzz that conference attendees generated during and after the event:

“Bravo & well done #uxstrat two days of thinking & inspiration! Great people & great presentations - Great conference.” @simon_norris

UX STRAT 2014 will take place on September 7–9, 2014, in Boulder, Colorado, USA—a progressive city that is nestled in a beautiful mountain setting. During a day of pre-conference workshops and the two-day conference, experienced UX strategy professionals will present their approaches to guiding UX projects, products, and programs. The historic Boulderado Hotel is to be the venue for the workshops, which will take place on September 7, while the entire UX STRAT tribe will gather at the classic Boulder Theater for conference presentations on September 8 and 9.

The theme of UX STRAT 2014 is Sharpen Your Axe. Abe Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” It’s difficult for UX leaders to get away from work to attend conferences and sharpen their skills, but we have carefully curated the workshops and presentations to give you an array of tools and case studies that will help you guide your UX projects to success.

UX leaders, strategists, researchers, and other senior UX professionals who attend the conference will have the opportunity to hear about and discuss the latest methods and trends in strategic digital experience planning and design.

Why You Should Attend UX STRAT 2014

Since conference and training budgets for UX professionals tend to be limited, UX conferences must provide a useful, targeted, career-building experience to make it worthwhile for attendees to travel across the country or around the world to attend. As organizer of the UX STRAT conference, I’m very aware that it’s essential that we differentiate our workshops and presentations from those at other, more general UX conferences. When you attend UX STRAT 2014, you’ll

  • learn about UX and CX (Customer Experience) strategy methods, tools, and deliverables
  • hear case studies from industry experts that describe how they’re combining strategy, design, and technology to achieve business results
  • network with experienced professionals whose focus is experience design strategy
  • find out how other companies are organizing their UX, CX, product, and service design practices
  • discover new ways to communicate UX and CX strategy to your organization

UX STRAT 2014 Presenters and Topics

Our content-curation goal for UX STRAT 2014 is to cover a broad range of UX strategy case studies, giving attendees a practical toolkit of approaches that they can bring to their own professional contexts. The presenters are outstanding UX leaders who will share their experiences in UX strategy at well-known companies such as Google, Amazon, IBM, frog, Cabela’s, Nook (Barnes & Noble), Shutterfly, Citrix, and many others.

The breadth of the UX strategy case studies will provide both a foundation and a framework for the practice of UX strategy. Key topics that the conference will cover include

  • aligning user experience with business strategy
  • defining the role of user experience in product and service design
  • planning strategic digital ecosystems
  • modeling behavior to drive UX, CX, product, and service design strategy
  • optimizing organizational structure for experience design success

The Conference Program

We have finalized the program for UX STRAT 2014, and it promises to provide a very focused series of workshops and presentations on the topic of experience strategy, giving attendees a comprehensive overview of the key activities comprising the practice of experience strategy. Both the workshops and the conference presentations’ coverage of experience strategy case studies and methods will help UX leaders to improve their approaches to guiding experience strategy, planning, and design.

The following is a complete listing of the pre-conference workshops and conference sessions’ presenters and topics.

Pre-conference Workshops

We’ll present a wide array of hands-on UX strategy workshops on Sunday, September 7—mostly half-day workshops, but also two full-day workshops.

Full-Day Workshops

  • Steve Portigal, author of Interviewing Users and Founder of Portigal Consulting—“Immersive Field Techniques: Interviewing and Observing for User Research”
  • Dan Saltzman, Director of User Experience at EffectiveUI, and Beth Koloski, Lead Experience Architect at EffectiveUI—“Customer Insight-Driven Design: Really Getting There”

Half-Day Workshops

  • Megan Grocki, Experience Design Director at Mad*Pow—“Customer Journey Mapping”
  • Phillip Hunter, Formerly Senior Designer at Microsoft—“Growing UX and Product Design Maturity of Practice”
  • Jim Kalbach, Principal User Experience Designer at Citrix—“Mapping the User Experience with Alignment Diagrams”
  • Dan Klyn, Cofounder and Information Architect at The Understanding Group, and Bill Holsinger-Robinson, Vice President, The Understanding Group—“Deciding Together: Information Architecture Strategy”
  • Tim Loo, Strategy Director at Foolproof—“UX Strategy Fundamentals: Experience Visioning and Roadmapping”
  • Pamela Pavliscak, Founder of Change Sciences—“UX Metrics 101: How to Measure and Have It Mean Something”
  • Sophia Voychehovski, Founder of ReWired UX Studio—“Converting to Cross-Device: A Painless Journey from Desktop-only to Responsive”
  • Dr. Amaya Becvar Weddle, UX Research Manager at Immersion Corporation, and Curtis Lefrandt, Vice President of Product & Training at Innovator’s DNA—“Building a Culture of Innovation: A UX Recipe for Success”


There will be four keynote speakers at UX STRAT 2014:

  • Dr. Laura Granka, Head of UX Research at Google—“Winning a Seat at the Table: What It Takes to Shape the Direction of a High-Profile Product”
  • Theo Forbath, Global Vice President of Innovation Strategy at frog—“The Role of UX in Defining the Future of Products, Brands, and Business Strategy”
  • Matthew Holloway, Vice President of User Experience Design at Shutterfly—“Design Your Strategy”
  • Jon Kolko, Director and Founder at Austin Center for Design—“Well Designed: Bringing Design Thinking to Product Management in Order to Create Products People Love”


Conference sessions range from 60-minute presentations to short, 15-minute vignettes.

  • Peter Merholz, Cofounder of Adaptive Path—“Shaping Organizations to Deliver Great User Experiences”
  • Dr. Laura Granka, Head of UX Research at Google—“Data and Design Strategy: Effectively Engaging a Multidisciplinary UX Team”
  • Todd Wilkens, Design Principal at IBM—“Putting UX and Strategy at the Heart of the Product Team”
  • Martin Granström, Head of UX at Nook Media—“UX as a Core Company Strategy”
  • Fabio Sergio, Vice President of Creative at frog—“Design for Impact”
  • Dan Klyn, Cofounder and Information Architect at The Understanding Group—“Strategy and Structure: Doing It Right, and How You’d Know”
  • Ronnie Battista, UX Practice Lead at Slalom Consulting—“Big Love: The Case for Conscious Coupling in UX Strategy”
  • Brian Gillespie, Strategy Consultant and, formerly, Principal at Continuum—“How to Avoid Losing Design Strategy to Business Strategists”
  • Lisa Estrin, User Experience Architect at Turner Sports—Executing a UX Strategy for NCAA March Madness”
  • Dr. Sofia Hussain, Interaction Designer at—“Designing Digital Strategies Based on Ecosystem Thinking”
  • Jim Kalbach, Principal User Experience Designer at Citrix, “Applying ‘Jobs To Be Done’ to UX Strategy”
  • Ashley Halsey Hemingway, Associate Director of User Experience at AppNexus—“Validating UX Strategy Concepts Through Service Design”
  • Krispian Emert, Senior User Experience Consultant at BCLC—“Lessons from UX STRAT 2013: Applied to the Real World”
  • Bill Rattner, Director of Digital Strategy at CapTech Ventures—“Creating a Long-Term, Unified Plan for Digital Customer Experience”
  • Rich Warnaka, Manager of User Experience at Cabela’s—“Using Behavioral Modeling to Engage Customers”


If you are working in User Experience or Customer Experience as a leader, strategist, or senior researcher or designer, the UX STRAT conference committee and I would like to invite you to join us for this engaging and intimate conference. It’s like UX graduate school in a conference!

When: September 7–9, 2014

Where: The Boulder Theater and Boulderado Hotel, in Boulder, Colorado, USA

Early-bird registration ends: July 31, 2014

For more information about the conference, visit the UX STRAT 2014 Web site or send an email message to [email protected]

UX STRAT Conference & Masterclass Organizer

User Experience Consultant at UX Strategy Group

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Paul BryanPaul organizes the UX STRAT conferences and workshops to help experienced UX, CX, Product, and Service Design professionals continue to grow their skills, networks, and careers. A UX strategist and researcher, he also consults with companies to help them evaluate and grow their UX Strategy capabilities. He began designing ecommerce Web sites in 1995, in Barcelona, Spain; then founded Retail UX in 2002. Paul’s consulting clients have included some of the most successful corporations in the world—such as The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, SAP, Delta Air Lines, Philips, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Cox, and GE. Paul manages the UX / CX / Product / Strategy Group on LinkedIn.  Read More

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