How I deal with little budgets, no time and complex organisations.
Creating delightful digital experiences means to design and develop something that can be shipped to the users. Unsurprisingly, this highly involves software development.
In my experience, there are three main categories of software development environments: 1. start-ups; 2. large organisation that started to develop their own software to support and deliver their main services; 3. the classic Agency-Client pod.
Usually, start-ups rise from an original idea that aims to solve a specific problem that is still largely or completely unresolved. They focus on this one set of user goals and sometimes they lean on investors believing in the success of their product — and that might drastically change their focus.
They are pressured to demonstrate the viability of their idea and the team’s ability to actually deliver it. They tend to jump on coding and delivering, and they love working with MVP (Minimum Viable Product), sometimes so much so that they will never deliver phase 2.
Large enterprise that started to develop software
Think of Telco, Banking, Insurance industries. They are large organisations that sell services now supported and delivered by their own software, often rebuild, lifted or migrated from third party companies who used to produce it for them. I‘ve experienced software development in such organisations first hand, in more than one market, for more than one client, and in several industries.
Unlike Startups, the biggest challenge they face is Legacy. They can not start afresh (at least, it is rarely feasible), and the whole organisation structure, approval process and planning, and sometimes their overall culture, often get in the way of good software development practices -let alone on creating delightful experiences. Similarly to Startups, they rarely deliver the Enhancements Backlog.
The Agency-Client Pod
The Agency-Client pod is where an Agency designs and develops a product or a set of products for a Client. Usually, a Client goes to an Agency asking for better conversion rate, more digital presence, expand their customer base or add a product to an existing portfolio. Although now days the Client is generally involved in the process as any other team member, the Agency is quite independent in their ways of working while developing the new product.
In this case, the biggest challenges are the Client’s resources (in budget and time), the Client’s expertise in finding the right agency, and the Agency’s ability to deeply understand the problem and to co-create with the Client. Here, the risks are even higher and are related not only to the quality of the product, but also to the actual delivery of it.
What is en Experience Roadmap?
When creating delightful digital experiences, I try to understand what is the MVP with the highest value for the Client and their Users, given the context of its development. I start with this definition of MVP:
While the first iteration fulfils the most basic set of goals (going from A to B) with the minimum effort from the business, the next iterations will quickly reach the best outcome with the least effort and risk of failure.
Following this pronciple, it is possible to create an Experience Roadmap that focuses on the outcome (a set of well working features) — not on the output (just a lot of rushed features), and that always aims to the best experience (the shiny car).
While aiming to the shiny car, sometimes you can only develop and release a bike, gain trust and resources to then be able to build a motorbike. Some other times you need to develop a skateboard to prove that you have the potential to get to the next steps. Whatever your situation, a valuable outcome, even in its MVP form, always considers these three elements: feasibility, desirability and viability.
The UX Strategist
As a UX Strategist, part of my job is to spot the most valuable outcome, given the scope of the problem, the constraints and the context of its development. Sometimes, it’s just not feasible to do the perfect thing right away, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok doing the wrong thing. Instead, while knowing what would be “perfect”, I find the perfect balance to have something really good to scale up when the opportunity arises.
Research and Strategy
I conduct stakeholders and users research to understand what are the needs for the business and the users, and I work closely with the tech teams to understand opportunities and limitations of the technology to be used. This knowledge will inform the Experience Roadmap that will bring the highest value to the Client and their Users.