Explaining User Experience

Explaining User Experience

User Experience has been defined and visually demonstrated many times before, but I’ve never really seen the “nuts-and-bolts” of a User Experience project listed in a way that’s easy to understand. I’ve come across many people who just don’t know what goes into a UX project, and also don’t know what resources should be on a UX project. By breaking out all the pieces I’m able to solve multiple problems with one graphic…

First, download this PDF and take a look.

User Experience

I started by listing out all the pieces necessary for a standard User Experience project – all the pieces that could eventually effect the experience. From Project Management (were we allocated enough time to realize the product?) to Accessibility (can people with disabilities use the product?), each one of these pieces can effect the experience.

After I listed out a good range of tasks and technologies, I started dividing them up into groups:

  • Managing the Project
  • Defining the Problem
  • Designing the Experience
  • Architecting the Technology
  • Delivering the Experience

Some areas were a little muddled and I reflected that in the graphic, but for the most part they generally fit in the above buckets.

So, what are my goals for this breakdown?

  • Show the User Experience process and all the pieces involved to clients and non-ux coworkers
  • Use this as a base to gather “stats” on UX employees (more on this later)
  • Use this as a beginning for a UX growth chart
  • Reference this with new hires to find out where their passions lie
  • Use this to map UX projects, and then UX consultants to the project

I’ve used the graphic a couple times already – one on a potential hire that had a wide range of experience and skills, but when shown this graphic quickly said “I’d definitely like to be in the Delivering the Experience area”. Most resumes nowadays for UX resources span all five areas, so this graphic is a good way to gauge where someone’s passion lie.

Another idea I’ve already started on is the UX employees “Insta-stats” (pdf). This would be a high level Baseball Card style stats:

Below is a simplified sampling of different tasks and technologies that go into most User Experience projects. So, what makes a User Experience project you ask? In 2004 Peter Morville described the facets of UX as: Useful, Usable, Desirable, Findable, Accessible, Credible, and Valuable. These facets take a wide breath of knowledge from a consultant to make sure everything works well together and works well for people. Here at Geniant we value breath and depth in our consultants, this “Insta-stats” is just a quick way to get a general sense of your skills and strengths.

This would be a self-assessment, where you could map out your current strengths and weaknesses and at the end even add up your UX score.

UX Stats

This could also be easily reversed and used to define the tasks and technologies for a project. Then you could go a step further and “overlay” your resources and find the people that fit best.

I believe this is a great starting point to help define UX projects, people and help staff UX resources.

I’ve posted my UX “Insta-stats” – anyone else?


Thanks to Xiaoxiao we now have the above “The Universe of User Experience” in Chinese!

9 thoughts on “Explaining User Experience

  1. Nice first try, Jeremy! It complements my own, higher-level T-model for user experience[1] nicely.
    I have a few questions about it:
    – what are the “Design Deliverables” you mention in the top-left corner?
    – are designers the only one who can apply Creative Thinging?
    – why isn’t Problem Framing closer to the Project Management circle, as it’s usually linked to keeping the scope right?
    – doesn’t Front-End development encompass AJAX, DOM, CSS, and Flash programming?
    And maybe some more. But as I said: I like where this is going!

    [1] http://www.peterboersma.com/blog/2004/11/t-model-big-ia-is-now-ux.html

  2. Peter – I’ve seen your T-model many times before and have now added your blog to my feed reader :-)

    – Design Deliverables are what I call presentations and infographics used to explain different aspects of the project. Maybe it’s visually showing clients user research, or the results of a usability assessment. I’ve found that being able to visually explain the process and results are a huge benefit and a skill not everyone has.

    – Anyone can apply Creative Thinking to a UX project, but again I think it’s a acquired skill. You could also call it “out-of-the-box” thinking, not everyone excels at this, and some people are downright stuck in convention and avoid change.

    – Problem Framing is more about defining the real problem that needs to be solved. When a client comes to you with a need: “I need a new intranet”, – is it they need a new intranet, or just a better way to communicate? – and if so, is a intranet the best solution. But, I do agree Project Management is closely tied everything in the “Defining the Problem” project phase.

    – I also agree Front-End Development does (and should) encompass many of the items in the “Delivering the Experience” area, but I broke them out because some resources know “Site-Development” but my not be versed in Accessibility and/or Flash Programming, etc. These are all different aspects creating the User Experience, but depending on the project one area may be more important then others. Example: developing an application for the blind would need a expert resource in Accessibility – not just a Front-End Developer.

  3. Just a thought, lovely model, but, accessibility should be in ‘designing the experience’ rather than ‘delivering the experience’ IMHO.

    Accessibility is more than just how you do your front end coding, it goes hand in hand with Usability.

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