A roomful of smart people argue over how to move a project forward. Each champions a direction supported by a pet data point. Been there many times. It happened working on a new feature for Vanguard’s website for Canadian financial advisers. We had great research, but could not move past subjective debates.
Research like user interviews, usability tests, brand awareness studies, and site analytics contributes to effective product design. We just needed a way to put this information in context, agree on the findings, and execute.
I had read about experience maps, thought it might help, and wanted to give it a try. Management approved a pilot effort and I followed Chris Risdon’s article on the process.
I focused on the wealth of qualitative data assembled by the client insight and marketing teams. I found and followed a great approach to qualitative data analysis used by social scientists. I broke down 11 reports into 451 data points, organized the data into themes, and iterated the maps.
Eventually, I followed Chris’ format. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?
As a pilot project, the experience map succeeded. It synthesized the research data and communicated it eloquently. And our team trended toward more productive conversations. The customer insight team adopted it into their practice. It spoke to upper management and gave UX a voice in a larger strategy initiative.
I discovered that process matters more than product, here. The goal is to achieve understanding and inform decision-making, not create a slick deliverable. I’ll support whatever form accomplishes similar clarity and synthesis. This takes less work than the confusion and redundant effort it saves.